It is a movie about viscid black blood spewing from priapic derricks puncturing, penetrating and exploiting California's virgin landscape on the eve of the 20th century.
It's about the cold blooded, steely veined Daniel Plainview, a man of resolute will and merciless greed, a man with no appetite for life's nookies. His bloodlust for lucre long ago extinguished any carnal fires, any fellowship of friends and all familial comforts.
Director Paul Thomas Anderson cast Daniel Day-Lewis, who won the Academy Award for Best Lead Actor with his pyrogenic portrayal of the smoldering anti-hero in this epic saga of wildcatting west coast oil. As Daniel Plainview, he travels with his supposed blood kin, HW, (ten year old Dillon Freasier) to seduce his prey into believing him to be a caring father with altruistic intent.
Plainview, however, is a devious man with a plan: to swindle land leaden with oil. Day-Lewis, as Plainview, is a bloodsucker incarnate, leeching lifeblood from all men gullible or desperate enough to succumb to his cunning. And for those who cross him, challenge him or deceive him, he reserves a hot blooded temper, fuming with increasing intensity in tandem with the escalation of his wealth and power. Daniel Day-Lewis delivers.
This lucrative period of American history spawned many excesses, evils and evangelicals. Heeding the call of Christ's blood, preacher prodigy Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) challenges Plainview with a comparable zeal for mammon. They spar in the explosive backdrop of the blood-ridden life-threatening greasy grind - digging, drilling, detonating and conveying a combustible compound.
The struggle between Sunday's sanctimony and Plainview's unmitigated avarice satiates the artery, pores and pus of the film. Indubitably, the animus builds to a blood curdling crescendo, climaxing this must-see celluloid treat.
And lest you miss the pervasive sanguine symbol from the movie's title - or this review - backup music occasionally punctuates the theme, like the gospel chant in the dining scene: "Power, power, wonder working power in the precious blood of the Lamb."
There Will be Blood's original score by Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood deserves muchos kudos - as if the casting, the script by the multi-tasking Anderson, the Academy Awarded cinematography, or the authentic sets need embellishing. Notwithstanding, Greenwood's acoustic knell accentuates the atmosphere with a haunting portent of Plainview's impending destiny.
Truly, it is a bloody good film.
The Extras are excellent in intent, showing archival photographs and footage juxtaposed with shots from the film, but the cropping of text and sloppy assemblage was distracting. So was the editing. The trailer, clips, shots and various voiceovers were verbatim repetitive. How hard could it be to do a little cinematic housekeeping?
On the up-side, proof of the film's set and costume authenticity added one more solid dimension to an already outstanding accomplishment - with eight Academy Award nominations and two wins to prove it.
(Ironically, scenes from the Academy Award competitor No Country for Old Men were being shot by the Coen brothers at the same time in the same place, in Marfa, Texas.)
As a history buff, I really appreciated the inclusion of a period oil documentary featuring camp life, portraits, petroleum harvesting and transport. More great moody music was provided by Greenwood, reprising the melodic custom from the era of silent cinema.
For anyone wanting more, read Oil! by Upton Sinclair, the historical novel that inspired There Will Be Blood.
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Dillon Freasier, Ciarán Hinds, Kevin J. O'Connor, Colleen Foy
Length: 158 minutes
Video codec: VC-1
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Dolby Digital 5.1
Dolby Digital 5.1
English SDH, French, Spanish