A2P Cinema 100 Films of the Aughts
A2P Cinema 100 Films of the Aughts
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THERE WILL BE BLOOD
2007 - Paul Thomas Anderson - United States
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Underscored by a haunting musical composition by Jonny Greenwood, Paul Thomas Anderson's film opens on a vista landscape of a wide-open, and uninhabited land. Then a cut to black and we are literally emerged into darkness. A dark hole actually, where a menacing figure is seen digging through this hole, which he soon strikes silver. Through darkness and grueling labor this man is driven. Driven (by greed) to never return to a hole and to claim his fortune of the land. Over the course of the stunning opening 20 minutes there are no words- just gestures and sounds (grunts, cries, and music). It is here the tone is immediately set, and after a transition to years later, dialogue arises "Ladies and gentlemen". And so it is the start of a masterpiece tale of greed, religion, family, deception, power, and self-interest. With his fifth feature, Paul Thomas Anderson has done something he has never done in his career, loosely adapting Upton Sinclair's novel (Oil!). Yet the film is distinctly his, and you are aware of this at every turn because of the precise handling of the grand epic. This is a classic American film in the vein of Orson Welles, DW Griffith, John Huston, or Stanley Kubrick, but Anderson boldly gives it his usual unconventional touch. Essentially There Will Be Blood is a battle of two forces, capitalism and religion, portrayed through two characters (the oil man Daniel Plainview and the preacher Eli Sunday). Not to go without credit is the remarkable lead performance by Daniel-Day Lewis. Under Anderson's direction, Lewis has created one of the most memorable characters in American film- Daniel Plainview, a monstrous presence who's humanity comes only from his unrelenting determination. Duality is a prominent motif of the film and this is most expressed through the twin brothers Eli and Paul Sunday (both played by Paul Dano). In Eli Sunday, Daniel (who "sees the worst in people") initially finds a conflict in what he sees as a false prophet, much in the way he is a false family man. As the title subtly hints, kinship also lies at the core of the film, most notably the blood kinship with Daniel: his adopted son H.W., who he profits off of prior to his accident; his brother Henry, who is also not of the same blood and who Daniel openly confides in; and of course Eli, the preacher who refers to him as Brother Daniel. When the film reaches its mind-blowing climax, its perfectly brought to a crashing battle of survival (not only physically but also psychologically and spiritually as well). Daniel loses H.W. in his marriage to Eli's sister. Eli, who has lost to brother Paul as a true prophet, is left only with Daniel. Having lost thier family, they essentially (as competition) only have each other and the stronger survives ("I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!"). In the end Daniel (now in a mansion) ultimately finds himself back alone in a hole like he started in the films opening. Completely assured of the rhythm and narrative, Paul Thomas Anderson has achieved a bold masterwork of technical expertise. "I'm finished!"
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