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There Will Be Blood

2007 movie with Daniel Day Lewis

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Black Gold

  • Aug 8, 2010
Rating:
+5
I confess to being rather late getting around to seeing this. It's one of those films that managed to pass me by upon its release, despite the fact that I was constantly hearing praise for it and despite the fact that I am a fan of Paul Thomas Anderson's previous work.

Let me say this right from the start: There Will Be Blood is definitely not a film that will be enjoyed by everyone. In fact, I think some will outright hate it. It's a film that is hard to enjoy - not the kind of film you'd watch with your friends while munching on popcorn. However, it is a film that, if you have the patience to stick with it, will leave a lasting impression. In that respect, it is like Andrew Dominic's superb The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, released in the same year. Indeed, There Will Be Blood makes a nice companion piece to Dominic's film.

This is a wonderfully crafted film. Everything looks and feels authentic and gritty - people have dirty fingernails, stained teeth, worn clothing and battered possessions. It's as though everything in the film is stained with the black filth of the oil at the heart of the story.  And yet, there is also much beauty to be seen in the film, thanks to the wonderful cinematography of Robert Elswit.
It's interesting to note that Anderson dedicated this film to Robert Altman. Somehow, I think that's fitting as it displays many of the hallmarks of his work, most notably its naturalistic feel, emphasis on character, and autumnal aesthetic.

Anderson's choice of using mostly unknown and regional actors is inspired. It lends even more authenticity and believability to the film. Of course, I can't talk about the acting in this film without mentioning Daniel Day Lewis. He owns this film. There are many fine performances in the movie, but it belongs to him. His performance is, quite simply, astonishing.  Even when the camera lingers on him, which it does often, he never looks anything less than completely immersed in the character. Day Lewis is an actor who's justifiably revered and respected and it's right that he won so many awards for his role as Daniel Plainview in this film. I would go as far as to say it's one of the finest acting performances I have ever seen. Full stop.

There Will Be Blood has a very impressive, unconventional score , written by Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead. At times, the music often seems at odds with the visuals, almost betraying their implied emotion, but at the same time that is extremely fitting. There's a very sinister undercurrent to many of the pieces, creating a real sense of foreboding, unpredictability and unease that matches the tone of the film perfectly.

I have to say, I find it hard to reach a solid conclusion about this film. Part of me is in awe of it and part of me is perplexed by it. I think it's one of those films that needs to breathe and be revisited for it to be fully appreciated. Taken at face value, this is a fairly simple story, but there are a lot of riches bubbling beneath the surface if you're willing do a bit of digging. There's a lot to this film that's not spelled out to you and made explicitly clear; things left open to interpretation.
There Will Be Blood can be seen as an allegorical tale - there are veiled allusions to the oil industry in the modern world, government corruption and its quest for power and control of wealth and resources. It's also a parable of how greed and power corrupts and twists the human mind. It also makes points about religion and even the relationships between fathers and sons.

This is a very ponderous movie. A chin stroker. Some may call it pretentious or self indulgent. Personally, I simply find this to be another style of film-making. Some films are made to please the masses - they strive for nothing more than to entertain. That's perfectly fine and I enjoy those kind of movies as much as anyone else, but, I also like to see movies that are striving for something more than that. Movies like There Will Be Blood remind us that film, as a medium, is just as valid as any other art form and can be something more than a product to be consumed.

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August 09, 2010
I love this film. When I first saw it, I thought it was good but not excellent and yet, the more I see it, the more I learn to appreciate the raw briliance of the direction. In some ways, it reminds me of the older movies with limited dialogue. I need to add this to my collection. Great review, Simon!
August 09, 2010
Thanks, William. I can't believe it's taken me this long to see it. Better late than never though, I guess! :)
 
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More There Will Be Blood reviews
review by . December 22, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
There Will Be Blood... and OIL!
Paul Thomas Anderson's loose film adaptation of Upton Sinclair's novel, Oil! is a somber masterpiece. There Will Be Blood is a fascinating examination of mankind's descent into madness, greed and zealotry. But rather than being heavy-handed or pretentious, the film is subtle, ironic and darkly humorous. It's not often that you see an American film that so skillfully balances these themes without being tainted by political partiality. Nor has there been a film in recent years that so rightly …
Quick Tip by . July 26, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This is the movie that should have won best picture of the year. Daniel Day Lewis is never a disappointment. This is definitely another movie where the tadum of the directing and scoring elevate the movie to a rare and powerful level.
review by . May 15, 2009
DVD
It is 1898, and Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) has just struck oil for the first time. As the years pass, Plainview becomes a wealthy oilman, traveling the countryside with his son, buying land and building oil wells. When he buys one farm, he begins an antagonistic relationship with a young preacher.     I didn't "get" this movie. I know critics praised it for being a great piece of art but for me it was two and a half long hours of monotonous tedium. The only thing interesting …
review by . December 19, 2008
I love the historical fiction/drama genre, especially if it has to do with California. And There Will Be Blood falls into that category perfectly!    The film follows an oilman played by Daniel Day-Lewis as he develops oil fields in Central California. As the film progresses, he becomes more engrossed in his oil and more obsessed with his wealth, eventually leading to a near mental breakdown at the end.    Best line from the film? "I drink your milkshake!" …
review by . November 15, 2008
Powerful performances by Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Dano make this film worth watching. As for the story itself, well, it's not a pretty one. The love of money (and oil) changes Daniel Plainview (Lewis) from an enterprising, industrious man and decent human being, into a whiskey soaked degenerate, who eventually alienates everyone close to him.     Preacher Eli Sunday (Dano, in a double role as both Paul and Eli Sunday) serves up fire and brimstone at the pulpit, but even his …
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Simon Lee Tranter ()
Ranked #142
Member Since: May 8, 2009
Last Login: May 15, 2014 07:58 PM UTC
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There Will Be Blood is an American drama film written, produced, and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. The Academy-Award winning film, released December 26, 2007, is loosely based on the book Oil!, written by Upton Sinclair. 

The film depicts the development and consequences of an oil production boom in California's Central Valley in the early 20th century and the pursuit of wealth by a silver miner turned oilman played by Daniel Day-Lewis.

There Will Be Blood was received very well among critics upon its release. In addition, it appeared on many critics' "top ten" lists for the year, including the National Society of Film Critics and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Actor Daniel Day-Lewis won Oscar, BAFTA, Golden GlobeNYFCC, Screen Actors' Guild, and IFTA Best Actor awards for his performance. Additionally, There Will Be Blood was nominated for eight Academy Awards; Daniel Day-Lewis won Best Actor, and Robert Elswit won Best Cinematography. It grossed more than $75 million worldwide.
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Details

Genre: Drama
Release Date: December 26, 2007
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Runtime: 158 minutes
Studio: Paramount
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