Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Screenplay: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Kevin J. O'Connor, Ciarán Hinds, Dillon Freasier
Runtime: 158 Minutes
Original UK Release: 2007
One of the great American movies, Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood is a hallowed depiction of the birth of capitalism in the modern age.
The story of Daniel Day-Lewis’s Daniel Plainview and his journey from silver miner to oil tycoon, Plainview is an emblematic and incorruptible presence of deterministic evil in the western world, and his journey into despair is one not only of the powers of industry, but men can be bent by the very strength of will and belief in the systems that they hold dear. Unfolding in near silence, one of the greatest opening sequences in cinematic history depicts the birth of both Plainview’s empire and the rebirth of himself as something stronger.
Following the guidance of the original text, Anderson’s screenplay draws parallels are drawn into text; a scaled allegory of our contemporary dependence on oil and its subsequent resemblance to the blood that it bathes in. In stark imagery, characters are soaked and baptised in hellish environments by the soulless substance that they crave. Souls and faiths tormented by the ground upon which they stand, the demons below the earth literally bubbling to the surface and as such draining the emotions.
Day-Lewis is a terrifying force of nature in his definitive role, a half-mad tyrant driven by the fumes of that which he mines. The supporting cast is astonishing, but Paul Dano is a shockingly equal match to his efforts as the demented and pathetic despot Eli Sunday as their war rages. Robert Elswit’s cinematography depicts an apocalyptic vision of the world, intensified by the film’s languorous pace and Jonny Greenwood’s intensely modern and foreboding score.
Perfect in presentation and unforgettably poignant in restrained spectacle, intelligence and its terrifyingly raw power, There Will Be Blood is unequivocally one of the 21st Centuries finest works.