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There Will Be Blood (2008)

Drama movie directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

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Punch in the gut movie-making

  • May 31, 2008
  • by
Many a year goes by without a movie of this quality, importance, and lasting value being made. 2007 saw two: No Country for Old Men, and this one. Both were richly and rightly rewarded at the 2008 Academy Awards.

Whatever one's notions of the subject matter, the director, the writers, or the actors involved, Blood punches you in the gut and won't stop until it winds down to its abrupt and astonishingly right ending. Like the best of classic movies, it compels your attention. The nearest comparison I can make is to Citizen Kane (Two-Disc Special Edition), another great classic about a strong man whose power over the viewer is the more astounding because of his unstoppable attraction and unacceptable moral stance.

Daniel-Day Lewis, perfectly playing the oil tycoon whose tale is told here, is strong and silent when needed, loud and aggressive when needed, but always and maniacally focused on achieving his goals. This singular focus impacts his son, his business partners, his employees, the family that owns the land where he makes his biggest strike, and finally the society in which he lives. His focus, and that impact, will be analyzed and debated by far smarter people than me as this movie takes its place in cinematic history, but one apt comparison which will surely drive many a master's thesis is that between Daniel Day-Lewis's oil tycoon and Javier Bardem's psychotic killer in No Country.

Blood is "inspired by" Upton Sinclair's Oil!, which I read and reviewed after watching the movie. See my review there for touch points and departures between the movie and the book.

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More There Will Be Blood (2008) reviews
review by . April 22, 2008
Since hitting it big with 1997's critically-lauded "Boogie Nights," Paul Thomas Anderson has stood in the front ranks of American filmmakers. Actually, Anderson has crouched in the front ranks, dreaming about what would make a great shot and how he could do this scene or that scene, while all the other filmmakers stand around and chat. For his fifth film, "There Will Be Blood," Anderson has set aside his trademark Altman-esque lushness for a style which recalls Francis Ford Coppola in his prime. …
review by . April 10, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Upton Sinclair's epic novel OIL! has been successfully transformed to a film by screen writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson ('Magnolia','Boogie Nights', etc). The film is a long song (158 minutes), covering a fascinating span of time in turn of the century California when oil gained the lure of gold and transformed the land and the people into creatures of capitalism and greed and lust, and were it not for the presence of Daniel Day-Lewis' powerful performance as the man who makes it all happen, …
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Todd Stockslager ()
Ranked #36
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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About this movie


Unmistakably a shot at greatness, Paul Thomas Anderson'sThere Will Be Bloodsucceeds in wild, explosive ways. The film digs into nothing less than the sources of peculiarly American kinds of ambition, corruption, and industry--and makes exhilarating cinema from it all. Although inspired by Upton Sinclair's 1927 novelOil!, Anderson has crafted his own take on the material, focusing on a black-eyed, self-made oilman named Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), whose voracious appetite for oil turns him into a California tycoon in the early years of the 20th century. The early reels are a mesmerizing look at the getting of oil from the ground, an intensely physical process that later broadens into Plainview's equally indomitable urge to control land and power. Curious, diverting episodes accumulate during Plainview's rise: a mighty derrick fire (a bravura opportunity that Anderson, with the aid of cinematographer Robert Elswit, does not fail to meet), a visit from a long-lost brother (Kevin J. O'Connor), the ongoing involvement of Plainview's poker-faced adoptive son (Dillon Freasier). As the film progresses, it gravitates toward Plainview's rivalry with the local representative of God, a preacher named Eli Sunday (brimstone-spitting Paul Dano); religion and capitalism are thus presented not so much as opposing forces but as two sides of the same coin. And the worm in the apple here is less man's greed than his vanity. Anderson's offbeat take on ...
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DVD Release Date: April 8, 2008
Runtime: 158 minutes
Studio: Paramount
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