There Will Be Blood

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There Will Be Blood is a 2007 American film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano. Its story was loosely based on the Upton Sinclair novel Oil!, and is notable for the significant critical reception it received and Day-Lewis's performance, which won him an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and several other awards.

Contents

Plot

The story centers around an oil prospector named Daniel Plainview (Day-Lewis), who starts a small business in 1898 and finally strikes in 1902. Shortly after oil is discovered, one of his employees is accidentally killed on the job, and Daniel adopts the man's infant son to raise as his own. Daniel uses the boy, H.W. (Dillon Freasier), to garner sympathy to secure land grants.

In 1911, Paul Sunday (Paul Dano) approaches Daniel, tipping him off to the location of oil in exchange for $500. Daniel travels to the Sunday family ranch, where he finds oil seeping to the surface. He offers to buy the land from Paul's father, Abel, for a pittance, but Paul's twin brother, a young charismatic preacher named Eli (also Dano), realizes that Daniel is interested in the oil and raises the price to $5,000.

A few days after Daniel has built a large oil derrick, an explosion erupts on the rig, and H.W. is permanently deafened by the blast, and Eli, who stylizes himself as a faith healer, is unable to restore the boy's healing. When Eli walks up to Daniel and demands the money, Daniel angrily beats him up, shoving his face into an oil puddle.

Daniel is sympathetic toward H.W. but is unable to communicate with him. As the well is reconstructed and begins to harvest oil, Daniel's half-brother, Henry (Kevin J. O'Conner) approaches him. Daniel makes Henry a close business associate and confesses to Henry that he hates people in general, and that his ambition is to make enough money to completely close himself off to the world. That night, H.W. tries to burn Henry alive while he is sleeping. Daniel has H.W. sent away to a boarding school.

After running into a problem drilling, Daniel decides to build a pipeline, which will require the lease of the ranch of a man named William Bandy. Daniel and Henry camp out on the land while they wait for William to return. During their conversations, Daniel suspects that Henry is not who he claims to be. Daniel holds a gun to Henry's head, and he admits that Daniel's real brother died of tuberculosis, and that Henry used the man's diary to impersonate him. Daniel murders Henry and buries him on the ranch, then passes out after drinking heavily.

The next morning, William returns, discovers Henry's body, and finds Daniel badly hungover. William offers to allow Daniel's pipeline on the condition that he repent of his sin and be baptized into Eli's church. Daniel joins the church solely to secure his pipeline, and Eli subjects him to humiliation, forcing him to confess to various sins and then slapping him around. Shortly afterward, H.W. returns to Daniel. The boy is learning sign language and has a romantic interest in Eli's daughter, Mary.

In 1927, Daniel has his wish: He is very wealthy and lives in a mansion, isolated from the community. However, he is miserable, deeply dependent on alcohol, and a misanthrope. H.W. asks to be let out of their business partnership so that he can leave with Mary to start his own business. Daniel does, but cruelly tells H.W., "You're not my son... You're lower than a bastard, and I only took you in because I needed a cute face to buy land. You have none of me in you." H.W. says, "I thank God I have none of me in you." After H.W. leaves, Daniel begins crying.

In the well-known final scene, Eli, who is bad need of money, informs Daniel that William has died and that he now owns the property. He offers to lease the land to Daniel to drill, because there were no oil rigs built on that land. Daniel tells him that he will do the work only if Eli renounces his faith. Eli does, and Daniel laughs and explains that he has already used his pipeline to drain the oil from the Bandy tract. Daniel then violently attacks Eli, throwing bowling pins at him. After he beats Eli to death, Daniel collapses to the floor and says, "I'm finished."

Themes

The novel Oil! is primarily a socialist work, and, though P.T. Anderson radically changed the film's story, this message is left intact. The movie is very critical of both capitalism and Christianity, and portrays Daniel and Eli as equally deceptive and self-serving.[1] The film is also about the corrupting power of greed on an individual, and some have pointed out that H.W. is the "hero" of the movie: He is the only redemptive character.[2]

Critics' reaction

Reception from film critics was generally positive, with critiques ranging from light praise to some lauding the movie as a "masterpiece." Roger Ebert gave There Will Be Blood three-and-a-half stars, praising it but saying it "is not perfect, and in its imperfections we may see its reach exceeding its grasp."[3] Other critics were not so reserved, such as Kevin McCarthey, who wrote, "You will be thrown back in your seat by how amazing it is."[4] However, Mike Sage called it "overrated"[5], and Armond White referred to it as a "pretend epic."[6]

Christian reaction

Christopher Walker, writing for ChristianAnswers.net, called the film "a non-relenting assault on the church and religion" and a "mockery." Contributor Jeremy Landes also took exception to the wholly anti-Christian theme and also criticized it for betraying the original story in the novel.[7] However, in the magazine Plugged In, Paul Asay was positive, calling it a "thundering, Old Testament-type story that metes out punishment to sinners."[8]

References

  1. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0469494/board/thread/117537849
  2. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0469494/board/thread/114275990
  3. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080103/REVIEWS/801030301/1023
  4. http://www.wjfk.com/pages/1436375.php?
  5. http://www.mykawartha.com/entertainment/column/25876
  6. http://www.nypress.com/21/1/film/ArmondWhite.cfm
  7. http://www.christiananswers.net/spotlight/movies/2008/therewillbeblood2008.html
  8. http://www.pluggedinonline.com/movies/movies/a0003592.cfm
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