Anthony's Film Review
There Will Be Blood (2007)
An exploration of themes in American history with a nice performace by Daniel Day-Lewis...
There Will Be Blood is an interesting movie if you love American history and/or stories set in earlier times. It can be even more interesting if you are a fan of the novelist Upton Sinclair. He wrote the novel called Oil!, from which this film is based, along with a memorable novel called The Jungle. Both stories deal with themes related to American capitalism, both the rewards and the costs.
You can see this in the first several minutes of the film. At a silver mine in the middle of a desert, one worker accidentally strikes oil. What begins as seepage becomes a black pool, leading the miners to frantically collect as much oil as they can. This is taking place in the beginning of the 20th century. Oil is a very valuable source of fuel. Any digger who is lucky enough to strike oil is one who strikes gold.
For this specific patch of land, that lucky oil tycoon is Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis). He is an example of a capitalist, just like any other. He finds a way to make a profit, then looks for more oil and new ways to transport oil to make an even bigger profit. At one point, a small community of people turn to him for hope. If his business can generate wealth, then water, food, education, and everything else will follow.
Daniel is also a sort of family man with a son named H.W. Other characters include Paul Sunday, who informs Daniel of oil within land occupied by his family ranch, and Eli Sunday, a devout preacher. (Note: Both Paul and Eli are played by Paul Dano, but they are two different characters.) These characters set up two conflicts in the story: capitalism versus religion and capitalism versus family.
That's what the film is really about. It goes from a historical drama to a character study in which Daniel reveals his true side. He is not devoted to the church as Eli. He may even put his business over his son. The start of Daniel's oil business is followed by complications, which serve as a catalyst for the dual conflict. Plenty of scenes in the film are long and sometimes drawn out, but they are so to focus on character.
Daniel Day-Lewis gives a pretty good performance. I certainly like the mannerisms and voice he put into the character of Daniel Plainview. He gives the performance a sort of historical authenticity. He just holds it all together as we anticipate the answers to two questions. One, can the conflicts even be reconciled, or must he pick one over the other? Two, what choice will he make at the end? Two scenes in the last part of the movie sort of provide the answers (including one scene with an amusing quote about milkshakes). In addition, they are long scenes but they have what I consider to be the film's most memorable dialogue and are a nice way to wrap up this thought-provoking story.
For more information about There Will Be Blood, visit the Internet Movie Database.