When Paul Thomas Anderson’s film There Will be Blood came out in 2007, I saw it in a theatre with some family. I was sixteen at the time and I definitely begged my parents to take me to the rated R film. I sought out films such as There Will be Blood because I hoped to become a writer of serious fiction and There Will be Blood felt like the type of thing I wanted to make.
Watching There Will be Blood is an experience unlike any other. The way that the film is shot, the performances of the actors, and the subject matter all contribute to its uniqueness. Daniel Day-Lewis is unsurprisingly phenomenal as Daniel Plainview, a ruthless oilman bent on gaining wealth by any means possible. Paul Dano surprisingly holds his own as Eli Sunday, a clergyman whose own trajectory parallels Plainview’s. We watch as Plainview’s business expands while his body and mind become weaker. Seeing There Will be Blood is worth the price of admission solely for Day-Lewis’s insane performance. Plainview is willing to say whatever to enact his will and control those around him. All he cares about is expanding his empire and isolating himself from all other people. Its a frightening character.
Eli Sunday is also a very complex character. He pretends to be caring and soft-spoken but he relishes torturing Plainview when given the chance. While he claims to be focused on religion, he is equally motivated by money. Sunday approaches Plainview several times asking for his money and at the end of the film, he has been reduced to this sole purpose. Sunday is the perfect counterpoint to Plainview. The men are so different yet so similar. Both possess the same goal but their methods of achieving it are different.
This is not the kind of movie that makes you laugh. This is a movie that demands and rewards attention and reflection. So much of this movie depends upon visual interpretation. This is a movie that doesn’t care for its audience. From the beginning its clear that this movie has something on its mind in a way that few movies do. Watching this movie is like being in a room with a caged gorilla. You’re never sure what its going to do and its easy to project your own thoughts onto it but the gorilla is controlled by its own force.
I watched this movie on Netflix but I recommend watching it on as large a screen as possible. The film is beautifully shot. Say what you will about Paul Thomas Anderson but the man knows how to make a film look amazing. It’s a dark movie and there is a essentially zero moments of levity. If you can stand to watch it, this film is absolutely worth your time. I look forward to growing old with this movie and watching it at some point in the future. It’s not the kind of movie that you can watch very often but each time I revisit it, I find myself coming away with a different feeling. This is one of those movies that grows stronger with age. It features a rare glimpse of some amazing actors and an amazing filmmaker working together before we really knew who any of them were. As such it will become more worthy of analysis as the people involved in it become more famous over time.