A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Paul Thomas Anderson (“The Master” and “Boogie Nights”) has delivered an absolute gem. A masterpiece that is intense, enthralling and tantalising in the way it plays out. The equivalent of striking gold in Hollywood (or oil for that matter), 2007’s “There Will Be Blood” is the best picture of the last decade without a doubt.
Set at the turn of the century, “There Will Be Blood” is the story of one man’s rise to wealth and immense success as a result of the ocean of oil he unearths in New Mexico in the late 1800’s. Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) is that man; an honest and straightforward businessman who has highly regimented intentions and stops at nothing to fulfil them.
The film is violent and shocking, showing the harsh working conditions of that era and the intense struggle one had to endure in order to obtain oil and as a result, make money. It also shows the dark side of business, the element of betrayal plays a part however it is greed, obsession and insanity that dominate this epic drama.
Daniel Day-Lewis is an extraordinary actor, he is one of few well known Hollywood method actors (a term used to describe an actor who literally embodies his or her character and doesn’t break it at all, even when at home). He is arguably the greatest actor we have in this day and age, from “Gangs of New York” to “Lincoln”, his dramatic range is endless, and it is truly breathtaking watching him transform on the screen.
Transformation is another key element that plays out in “There Will Be Blood”, the gradual change of Daniel Plainview is an eery and somewhat scary one. As the money flies in, the stress builds up, the tension grows and the oil is excavated, Plainview becomes something the audience never thought possible. Film’s usually have a primary antagonist and a protagonist, yet that doesn’t always mean they have to be two different characters.
The performances of Paul Dano have furthered his career immensely. Dano plays a set of twins, the Sunday twins Paul and Eli, who are courageous and kind hearted. The two are never seen on screen together and the only downfall of the film was the unclear distinguishing between the two. Granted, they go by different names, they occupy different timeframes of the film and Paul states that his brother Eli would meet Plainview later on, however, the Sunday twins are more or less identical, and the connection could have been a little stronger, only for plot progression’s sake.
Eli is the twin more crucial to the story, the extremely religious preacher and man of the people is not used to being outspoken and over ruled, however he faces a monster gradually becoming more and more haunting in that of Daniel Plainview, the conflict between the two is brilliantly played out.
In addition to the film’s ominous and uneasy nature, the soundtrack is perfect. The choice of mechanical sounds to dominate the score work incredibly well with the film, as the construction noises and overly blunt sounding effects add so much tension to the piece and take away any feeling of comfort; it is distressing to say the least.
The title itself is ominous and formidable. “There Will Be Blood” stands for so much in this film, but ultimately it seems to epitomise Plainview’s intensions as a sadistic businessman with unwavering fixations of wealth. The title delivers faultlessly, but not as it may be expected to.
“There Will Be Blood” is a masterpiece above all else, there hasn’t been anything like it, and it seems nothing can surpass it. The timeline it depicts is brilliant, showing Daniel Plainview’s life as a worker from his early days all the way up to his retirement. Displaying the brutal display of labour and the high risk environment the workers occupied, mixed with the undertones of religion, faith, family, death, pride, wealth, savagery, greed, power, competition, morality and compulsion make “There Will Be Blood” an absolute classic and the best film of the last 10 years.
Nominated for 8 OSCARS in 2008, “There Will Be Blood” took home 2 awards. Not surprising, Daniel Day-Lewis won the OSCAR for ‘Best Performance by and Actor in a Leading Role’ for Daniel Plainview, and Robert Elswit won for his cinematographic work on the picture, which in itself is wonderfully executed and adds so much more to the story.
This film is a powerhouse from start to finish, the way the tension mounts and the characters change is a thrill ride in itself. The story is fantastic and the subplots and supporting actors deliver incredible performances. Add an amazing score with beautiful shots and of course Daniel Day Lewis at the helm, and you have the 5 star triumph that is “There Will Be Blood”.