There Will Be Blood
By Alex Easton
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Dillon Freasier, Ciaran Hinds
Running Time: 158 minutes
Paul Thomas Anderson has created an epic work of genius with his latest film; There Will Be Blood. But it is by no means an easy watch.
Britain’s own Daniel Day-Lewis plays Daniel Plainview; an oilman intent on growing his business into a national, profit-making dynasty during the 19th century oil boom. Plainview comes across a stubborn obstacle however: the church. The obvious ethical issues facing Plainview don’t affect him and he will clearly stop at nothing to drain their land of oil.
The first scene sets the mark for the rest of the film. It is a cringe-worthy 15 minute sequence containing no dialogue. We learn all about Plainview’s personality however. He is stubborn, callous and hell-bent on making money. Shortly after, Plainview is approached by Paul Sunday (Paul Dano), who claims he knows of a place where oil seeps from the ground. With his son H.W (Dillon Frasier) in tow, Plainview follows up the tip and discovers it is accurate. He purchases the plot along with the surrounding area and begins digging.
Every scene has a purpose in this film. Whether it be to build the characters or to confront pitfalls in society, all are masterfully done. The atmosphere created by the cinematography and score (composed by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood) is one of awkwardness and tension. It’s dark, grimy and uncomfortable, but it all adds to the brilliance of the film.
The great thing about There Will Be Blood is that it doesn’t shout what its meaning is at you. It’s made up of layers, and the further you delve, the more meaningful it becomes. The issues addressed in it are contentious ones, but you need not consider them if you don’t want to. On the face of it, the plot is gripping and the performances expertly comprised: the makings of a good film. Peel a layer off and you can analyse the brutal interaction between money and religion. Dig again and there is more for the viewer to ponder.
There Will Be Blood is hard-work. At little under 3 hours in length, it requires effort from the viewer. But by making a small effort we are rewarded with an astonishing film. Daniel Day-Lewis puts in the performance of a life time which is intense throughout. The moral issues assessed are poignant and thought-provoking and the accompanying soundtrack is utterly unique. This is a modern classic and Paul Thomas Anderson truly has created a masterpiece.
Having enjoyed There Will Be Blood, I thought it necessary to buy the ‘Two Disc Collector’s Edition’ of the DVD. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.
There isn’t one interview with any of the cast; any view from the director; anything about the adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s Oil!, in fact, there isn’t really anything interesting at all. Highly annoying.
The limited extras we are given are short and unsatisfactory. There is 15 minutes of stills from the production period, which is the best of a bad bunch. There is evidence of the thought processes or Paul Thomas Anderson which is mildly engaging.
Also included is ‘The Story of Petroleum’; a re-used public information film from the 19th century which serves only to educate you about some of the technical terms of the oil industry. The only other extras are trailers and deleted scenes which aren’t particularly fresh.
Overall, not a good DVD and what’s more annoying is that the normal, non-collector’s edition has pretty much the same extras as the two disc edition. The box admittedly has nice artwork, but the physical make up of the box is cheap and inferior to the region 1 version.