There Will Be Blood Reviews
Everything is grist to his mill, exploiting any weakness and getting rid of every encumbrance ironically up close and personal.
Almost operatic in it realisation, I'd suggest a small intoxicant of your choice as a good way to appreciate the film, but do see it if you missed its theatre release.
Daniel Day-Lewis was given an entire year to prepare for the role of Daniel Plainview and it shows. Even more incredible is the fact that Paul Dano was given just 4 days (!) to prepare for his breakout role as Eli Sunday after he was originally cast to just play the smaller part of Paul Sunday (the script was quickly re-written to make the brothers twins so that Dano could pull double duty).
While the Oscar for Day-Lewis' performance is a no-brainer, the other--for cinematography--is actually quite debatable. Sure, the Texas locations and landscapes were quite remarkable, but there were also plenty of times when the images on the screen were unnecessarily dark. I would've preferred if the film won the Oscar for best sound editing (for which it was indeed nominated) as the use of sound--including distinct moments of silence--heightened the overall viewing experience to an even greater degree.
When I first saw Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood, I was annoyed. Annoyed at the abrupt final act, and annoyed at Daniel Plainvew's life. Then I realized, about a day later, this was American filmmaking at its ballsiest. Daniel Plainview is a magnificent caricature of American values, and his 19th century industrialist disdain for human life, is somehow the perfect embodiment for 21st century selfishness. He is what we are, what we will become, and what we fear the most. The movie itself forces us to consider our own personal dichotomy of religion and faith (through the hypocritical Eli character) and materialism. Whichever you choose, you lose your soul.
What I Learned: I am embarrassed to admit that I really relate to Daniel Plainview. I know I shouldn't but I do. His lack of attachment to people, his burying himself in a profession that doesn't "love" anyone, and his mistrust of everything except what his own hands can reach was a terrifying vision of what a naturally anti-social person can easily turn into. In art and in life, I am always running from Daniel, the definitive peak of decadence that you never want to reach, as an artist who strives to inspire people for the betterment of humanity, and as a human being who must always love people more than life experience. Otherwise, everything is worthless.
Nevertheless, this movie was really good and the acting and set pieces were on point. Would I watch it again? Mmm maybe not.
The rise of a miner named Daniel Plainview turned wealthy oilman is explored in this film from the years 1898 - 1927. The film shows how he becomes wealthy, and how he takes advantage of those around him in order to achieve his goals at all costs.
This movie is very depressing in many ways. After H.W.'s father dies in an accident when he's an infant, Daniel adopts him, and he pretends that he's his son. He uses him just so he can help him deceive the Sunday family more. Also, it's really hard to watch the scene where he becomes deaf in an accident. However, despite everything he experienced in the film, his character represents hope. He shows that even though Daniel used him as a ploy for better business and wealth, he is still able to break free of the chains he's held down with. Since he and Daniel Plainview are more educated than the Sunday family, he is easily able to see through all of it and know that what Daniel is doing is wrong.
After you think about the film a little bit, you start to realize how Daniel used every character he met in the film. After he becomes fed-up with H.W., he spares no time in finding an excuse to get rid of him by sending him to a school for deaf kids. He just works with his long-lost brother to keep deceiving his workers with the family image. If his brother leaves the film, he - only then - brings his son back. Daniel Plainview is a really memorable character, because he is able to expertly deceive those around him without them being able to notice nor do anything about it. At some points in the film, the viewer starts to be tricked into liking Daniel Plainview and it's very easy to forget about his true colors as a result.
The cinematography in this movie is excellent. The shots of the desert are gorgeous to look at, and the shots of the ranch feel atmospheric. Every shot makes you feel like you're actually in the time period this movie takes place in. One of the shots that the movie does very well is how it shows you how insignificant the characters are. It shows you a shot of a character. Then, the camera would move up to make it seem like they're in the middle of nowhere. This technique is best utilized in the beginning. After Daniel falls into a mine and breaks his leg, he has to climb out and crawl back to his fellow miners. A shot is pointed at him crawling on his back. Then, the camera moves up and shows us how much he has to trek back. This is a powerful shot, and it's good that they made this technique clear by utilizing it very well in the beginning. That way, the viewer would continue to be immersed every time they did this in the film.
The acting was really good. Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview stole the show. He deserved that Oscar he won. Every single line he spoke was convincing. Near the beginning of the film, his voice continuously evoked a slight feeling of distrust. As he got more suspicious and as he made more enemies, his facial expressions gave the viewer a feeling that something bad was about to happen. The highlight of his performance was at the end of the film though. He gives reactions so convincing that they might as well by passed off as genuine. When he slowly goes insane, the viewer feels like the same is happening to them. I honestly can't decide who I liked more: Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men or Daniel Day-Lewis in this film. Both of them were about equally amazing. I liked most of the cast. They were pretty good. However, if I'd have to criticize one actor, it would have to be Paul Dano as Eli Sunday. His performance was good for the most part. However, I felt like he lost some of his believability during the scenes of him preaching at his church. He seemed a bit over-the-top in those scenes. Also, there were a few other parts in the film where when he was yelling, his voice got a bit high-pitched and that didn't fare too well with me. Overall, however, he gave a good performance. He just didn't balance out the impact that Daniel Day-Lewis left.
The soundtrack works very well in the movie. There are some songs which sound very haunting, and they do a very good job at representing the feelings of deception that the movie provides. An example of a really effective soundtrack comes in during the gas blowout scene. The striking minimalist soundtrack sets a feeling of urgency, and it makes the scene suspenseful as a result. While the soundtrack worked very well in the film, I found it a bit uninteresting and bland to listen to on my own. It was a soundtrack which was meant to be listened to in the movie. It was still pretty good, but I'm not going to be signing off on its praises anytime soon.
In conclusion, this was an amazing movie which was almost perfect. Daniel Plainview and the tension he had with other characters in the film was great and the cinematography was very well-done. For the most part, the acting was good and the soundtrack was still good despite its flaws. This movie is often compared to "No Country for Old Men" as the 2 were filmed in the same desert. I think that this was an amazing film. However, I liked "No Country for Old Men" a little more.
He's shameless in his pursuit, no loyalty to anything else, nor true membership to a church. He's such an honest, smart capitalist that he fully knows the capitalism in others. When Eli reveals his desire to have more attention from his townsfolk, Daniel jokingly agrees to help, only to put Eli in his place by not actually fulfilling any obligation. The shot of Daniel walking up the steps out of focus while in the background, Eli stares disappointed in focus, is a perfect example of this. Eli is best captured in his natural setting: the church. It's shot through an atheistic lens as he manipulates the old woman to believe he's a great healer, a shameful sideshow proving his true capitalism. Daniel can confidently look upon churchgoers with absolute confidence in his power over them. He also knows Eli is just as interested in the liquid gold oil as anybody else.
Daniel takes absolute authority when he manipulates the Stephen's daughter to be his own because she gets hit by her father; he audaciously causes this scene right in front of the father.
How can one even speak of the beauty in the transition from daylight to the oil tower going up in flames with black smoke, transitioning this methodical scene into total darkness as the music carries us scene to scene? Anderson harkens to a Kubrick style of filmmaking - we sense the darkness in what humanity will endure for profit. A dark light hanging over Eli exemplifies this idea, and it speaks volumes. Or in his use of music, exemplified by a single string note playing over HW going deaf, Daniel trying to speak to him to no avail. And then Daniel's evil completes itself, perhaps too soon, when he abandons HW for being deaf and useless.
What lengths will Daniel Plainview go to? For the sake of good business ties to the town, he sincerely humiliates himself amongst the congregation, allowing Eli to baptize him. The comedy is so outlandish and absurd, yet truthful, again impressing the lengths men will go to for profit.
HW makes a surprise return two hours into the film, and like HW, we haven't forgive Daniel, yet we see him trying. We know why Daniel has brought HW back, and it's merely for his reputation. There's no love emitting from this cold man. How much madder does it get? He eventually tells HW the truth of his existence, revealing his shitty plan, degrading HW into absolute nothingness, a "bastard from a basket" who he used for his own image. This is about as purely rotten and soulless as it gets. The film delivers its expectation to take us from most cruel to most cruelest.
What I love most about this film is that I can never really say where it's going. Traveling through time to 1927, we see Daniel's upscale mansion, living amongst spoils and hoarding, sloppy, disorganized madness. It ends on an awkward yet poignant note, and it's all we need to wrap up the experience.