There Will Be Blood

Oil prices these days are sky high, and it’s hard to imagine a time when oil was plentiful and inexpensive. However, during the early 20th century, oil moguls throughout the West began setting up wells left and right, draining the oceans of oil deep below land. It was a time of enormous wealth and, in the case of “There Will Be Blood,” mammoth greed. Written and directed by Oscar nominee Paul Thomas Anderson, “There Will Be Blood” tells the life story of Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) from his meager beginnings to his life as an oil entrepreneur. Using less-than-moral techniques, Daniel and his adopted son acquire oil-rich land throughout the West. When a mysterious man tips Daniel off to the oil fields in a small town called Little Boston, Daniel travels there to set up shop. However, as Daniel begins to dig his wells, a young preacher named Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) uses religion to bribe him for $5,000. Unappreciative of the extortion, Daniel continuously butts head with the so-called prophet. Daniel must deal with this annoyance and try to build his fortune off “black gold” while tragedy strikes his family and his wells. Running 158 minutes, this oil-epic deals with greed, vengeance, competition and family, all in one sitting. Lauded by critics as the next big hit in cinema, “There Will Be Blood” is something to marvel at. It’s a complex, strange tale that people will love for a long time coming. “There Will Be Blood” certainly has a lot going for it. And while it is strong in almost every area, Daniel Day-Lewis’ acting stands out. Day-Lewis took a year to prepare for this role, and it shows. In fact, Day-Lewis gives the best performance of his already impressive career. Every action and line embodies the greed and moral decay that consumes Daniel Plainfield. The performance is filled with amazing scenes, culminating at the powerful baptism of Plainfield. His acting is reminiscent of the late greats like Brando or Wells. The $7 ticket fee is worth it for Day-Lewis’ performance alone. Due to the fact Day-Lewis is so commanding in his portrayal of the greedy oil-monger, Daniel Plainfield, it’s quite easy to miss the subtler genius in the film. Anderson’s filming techniques are absolutely perfect. Using an incredible amount of parallelism in his scenes and shots, Anderson has created a virtually flawless picture. With a level of quality only seen in Kubrick’s movies, the filmmaking is captivating. In some cases, Anderson used a vintage 1910 Pathe camera to give the scenes a distinctive color tinge suggestive of older films of its kind. This type of extra detail is what takes a film to the next level. And that’s exactly what Anderson has done; he has made the filming of “There Will Be Blood” into something immense and wonderful. With brilliant acting and stunning filmmaking, “There Will Be Blood” is a powerhouse of a movie, but it’s not perfect. As mentioned earlier, its runtime is around two hours and forty minutes long. That certainly is a long time to sit down to watch a film. Watching a film this long can get tiring and, without regular plot development, you can get bored. Long shots of fiery oil wells and rough waves at the beach are fine and nice, but they could have been sacrificed to keep this film at a respectable length. I can’t help but feel that the runtime will turn many people off from such a great movie. Its length is ultimately the biggest fault of this otherwise awesome epic. With eight Oscar nominations under its belt, “There Will Be Blood” is shaping up to be one of the greatest films of 2007. Make it a goal to check out Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest. It is sure to amaze. Grade: 6-