I'd like to spank the Academy

600full-there-will-be-blood-poster-finalDirected by Paul Thomas Anderson

I knew two things about There Will Be Blood before I watched it: 1)it was based on a book by Upton Sinclair; 2)it was a Coen brothers film. As I watched it, I couldn’t help but think it was a very odd film for the Coen brothers. It was just so serious and everything was played completely straight. About midway through, I looked it up on IMDb and realized that I had only known one thing about There Will Be Blood: it was based on a book by Upton Sinclair.

So what’s the story? On a tip from a young man named Paul Sunday, prospector-turned-oilman Daniel Plainview travels with his son to the community of Little Boston to see if he can start some oil wells. The land is promising, but Paul’s creepy twin brother, Eli Sunday, has a strange hold over the people of Little Boston.

The Good: I’m not very familiar with Daniel Day-Lewis as an actor, but I didn’t think very much of his performance in Gangs of New York, so I wasn’t exactly jumping with excitement to see him in There Will Be Blood. But his performance as Daniel Plainview was excellent. It had to be; Daniel is in almost the entire movie and for some of the movie, he’s the only person onscreen. The movie wouldn’t have worked with a lesser actor.

I really liked the soundtrack. It wasn’t constant; at times there was no music at all. I like that. It makes it feel more real and less manipulative. I liked, too, that the music was usually played by a smaller group, not necessarily a full orchestra. It reflected the bare bones of the frontier places Plainview was.

The Bad: There were a couple questions I had that never really got answered. Why did HW stop talking? He had the capability to speak. Why did he not? And what happened to Paul Sunday? I suppose if I had a creepy brother like Eli, I might leave and never come back, but why does his family never mention him again? I kept waiting for him to show up again, but he never did. I felt like other people disappeared, too, like Ciaran Hinds’ character. What happened to all those people?

The Ugly: I’m not a big fan of violence, whether it’s intentional or accidental, and many distressingly violent things happen in this movie. My cat finally moved off my lap in disgust because I kept jumping and gasping at things that were happening. Mining and oil well-digging were very dangerous jobs back then, and I didn’t like seeing what could happen to people while they practiced those professions. I’m not mortally offended by it; I’m just not good at handling that kind of stuff.

Oscars Won: Best performance by an actor in a leading role (Daniel Day-Lewis); best achievement in cinematography.

Other Oscar Nominations: Best motion picture of the year; best achievement in directing; best writing, adapted screenplay; best achievement in film editing; best achievement in art direction; best achievement in sound editing.

Comments on: "There Will Be Blood (2007)" (2)

  1. Jonathan said:

    I’m not a fan much of gratuitous violence (I’ll never watch Game of Thrones), but I felt that for a movie with the word Blood in its title, it didn’t overdo it. A couple of accidents, two murders (by the protagonist…); the only one that kinda shocked me (SPOILERS) was the murder of his “brother”. Although his tantrum at the end of the movie that ended the life of the preacher was still nothing but cold blooded murder, for some inexplicable reason I saw a difference between that and his previous murder.

    The thing that bothered me the most while I was watching the movie is that I couldn’t figure out that Paul (only seen briefly) and Eli (the main antagonist), were twin brothers. I saw the whole thing believing that they were the same person. I guess I missed in the movie where they make that distinction.

    As far as the unanswered questions, yeah I also wondered what happened to Ciarán Hinds. I also wondered how the actor could play such a silent, yet compelling character. (After I learned that Paul and Eli were brothers) I figured that Paul left because of Eli. I would have done the same. His creepy charismatic pseudo-religious grip on the town would send me packing too. HW? Dunno. But maybe the point (what point? I don’t know) is subtly made when Daniel demands that he actually speak at the end of the movie.

    Daniel Day-Lewis: amazing performance. He portrays his character very well. I read that he listened to old recordings from that era to get their manner of speech. Whatever his inspiration, he did well.

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    • The Paul/Eli thing is only very subtly touched on. It doesn’t actually say that they are twins, but they are mentioned as separate people. But yes, it definitely could have been more obvious. And Daniel Day-Lewis does do an amazing job. I realized while I was watching this movie that I have no idea what he looks like in real life. He’s one of those people that so inhabits a character that I never think I am watching Daniel Day-Lewis.

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