Fahey’s Film Reviews: There Will Be Blood

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A poster from the movie "There Will Be Blood" seen through the eyes of Eliot Pick '22.

There Will Be Blood can be viewed with a Netflix subscription or rented on Amazon Prime for $3.99.

The pursuit of prosperity and power led to the boom of the American economy, but it was not without its corruption. The period epic There Will Be Blood directed by Paul Thomas Anderson comments on this through the ambitious and fervently-driven oil miner, Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis).

The lonely narrative is the main foundation of the story. Daniel Plainview, a businessman who works solely with his adopted son, H.W. Plainview (Dillon Freasier), seeks to turn the rugged terrain of early 20th-century Southern California into an oil empire. 

The land Plainview buys is, at first, quiet and empty, but the air is filled with the crescendo of a viola soundtrack that promises evil. Soon, the main set piece is introduced in the center of the town, the oil rig. 

Cold to all those who stand in his way, Plainview finds an opponent in local preacher Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), whose external zealous nature is the product of internal pride. 

The tension between Plainview and Sunday is seen very subtly in words, but their drives to influence the town are seen throughout the film. The preacher’s constant begging for owed money from Plainview to grow his church following reflects his envy in the shadows of the towering rig. 

Plainview’s continual lust for power is seen in the cold and demanding character acting of Day-Lewis. His character feels continually removed from his son and others as he strives to expand his oil pipeline. 

In a satirical sense, Daniel Plainview is the perfect antihero. Despite his massive achievement and creation of economic prosperity, he forsakes everything in front of him to manifest his goal, even those of goodwill, such as his son. Plainview claims to be “who the Lord has chosen,” a religious metaphor that can be tied to the theme of blood in the title. 

There Will Be Blood is a beautifully thrilling character study of what isolation and a sense of entitled personal will can do to corrupt a man and how greed manifests itself over the natural world. It is a slow-burning yet thought-provoking film, especially for those in quarantine who have their doubts about those in power controlling this epidemic.