Released in 2007, There Will Be Blood is another film that has long been on my radar but I have simply never had the opportunity to watch it. With the backdrop of a rainy Monday afternoon, I had no idea just how arresting, fascinating yet disturbing my experience of this Paul Thomas Anderson-directed masterpiece would be. To anyone who has not yet seen this film, make sure you banish your phone or any other electronic device so you can fully immerse yourself in one of the most outstanding films of the 21st century.
The indication that there will be perfection in There Will Be Blood is exhibited as early as the opening sequence. After the introduction of eerie classical music and the arid setting of New Mexico, we are introduced to an anonymous miner desperately searching for silver. Little do we know that this tenacity foreshadows the vicious and amorality of the protagonist, revealed to be oil prospector Daniel Plainview. This character, who I think will go down as one of the most memorable characters in all of cinema history, is brought to life by the one of the greatest living thespians on the planet, Daniel Day Lewis. I cannot even articulate how masterfully Lewis morphs into a man, or rather a monster, fuelled by greed, hatred, selfishness and ruthlessness. With his nonchalant usage of physical and psychological abuse, Plainview is a complex character in every sense who effortlessly inspires fascination amongst the audience. It’s fair to say that while There Will Be Blood has a really strong supporting cast, the film simply does not work unless you have a lead actor as or more committed or talented than Lewis.
In addition to the strength of Plainview as a character and an Academy Award winning performance, the story of There Will Be Blood is a marvel in its own right. Unlike most films longer than 2.5 hours, the pacing is taut and expertly constructed, and you witness Plainview’s downfall as if he were a family member or a friend. Unlike most films about hubris or moral corruption, There Will Be Blood does not have the supporting characters openly comment on the nature of the protagonist, but allows you to remark at him as the story progresses.
I think There Will Be Blood will stand the test of time for two distinct reasons: not only does it examine the greed of oil barons past and present, but it dives into the psychology of an ordinary man who is motivated by self-interest and is contemptuous of his own friends, religion and any potential competitors.
What makes There Will Be Blood a near-perfect movie is not just its virtuosity towards story and character, but towards its execution. The Oscar-winning cinematography, courtesy of Robert Elswitt, doesn't rely on fancy camera movements or a variety of angles, but rather, the composition and framing of the drama, exquisitely shot on Panavision XL 35 mm. The realism is heightened by the usage of real pyrotechnic explosions and the arid location of Marfa, Texas, and it consistently feels like you are partaking in the experience. The tension is heightened by Jonny Greenwood’s unsettling and sporadic classical score, and helps transport us back to the early 20th century.
There are very few films since There Will Be Blood that are brilliantly executed across all fronts that have you holding your breath the entire time. If Hollywood even dares to remake this film with a shoddy cast, weak visuals and a rushed script, I know for a fact that there will be blood.
Rating - ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆