December 10, 2019

Review There Will Be Blood (2007)


“THERE WILL BE BLOOD” (2007)
By Paul Thomas Anderson | USA
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Heralded as one of the best film ever created this side of the century and starring the most wickedly talented actor probably since Brando graced our screen, Paul Thomas Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood” surely has no need of any introductions. An artistic collaboration unlike any other PTA film — packed with enough talent both infront and behind the camera to slaughter the rest of Hollywood — the film easily became not only his grandest project to date but also his magnum opus. Grand not in the sense of its prolonged runtime but rather it’s ambitious scope and magnum opus simply because it is objectively his most well-made endeavor.
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It’s a rarity for a film to accomplish such a perfectionist control in every aspect of its production. Though they probably won’t necessarily make for perfect films for everyone’s taste, there’s no denying that a perfect showmanship of craft gave a film a universal allure that’s just cannot be denied. This is my dilemma when first watching this film a few years ago. I, as a film lover, immediately recognizes PTA’s perfect touches in the visual, audio, narrative, and little details that I simply have no choice but to admire them. Add to that is Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance which I won’t even talk about much here because everyone knows already how insane he is. But apart from him and my appreciation of the film’s technicalities, I found “There Will Be Blood” a rather cold film that I couldn’t connect emotionally with.
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That was a few years ago. Since then the film never pops into my mind for even a moment. So, with the PTA marathon that I am currently doing I think it’ll be the perfect excuse to rewatch this masterpiece that I clearly has so misunderstood. And boy, did the experience change for the better. What was then seem like an emotionally distant story, now to me feels a deeply moving one. Dare I even say, there’s even a newly found sense of inspiration and motivation I somehow found in Daniel Plainview’s sociopathic oil driller character. I scarily understand his side of the story that I was having a much more engaging experience with the movie.
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There’s a lot of arguments to be made of what Plainview’s character represents for little of what he does really echoes his friendly surname. To me, Plainview represents a deep rooted nihilism that at the same time feels self-aware. His character is a deceitful fox for sure, but what you cannot say about him is that he admits of his immorality. He makes his argument and most of the time his arguments turns out truer than the people around him who claims to have higher moral principles. Daniel spits on these kind of people for exactly that reason. I believe what he hates in people more than anything is that self-narcissistic believe that by doing good we therefore elevate ourselves to be good men.
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Such characteristic appears in Paul Dano’s local priest and self-proclaimed prophet; the ice to Plainview’s fire. Indeed, there’s much more to the conflict between the two other than said characteristics of self-consciousness — a lot of the emphasis between the two characters has more to do with their believe (or lack there of) in god. But to me, Plainview’s hatred for Paul grew more so because of how he represents human falsity; how he puts himself above everyone else in a moral pedestal. That’s all that he hates: self-entitlement. As someone who used to scratch under the dirst and had to literally crawled his way to the top, Plainview simply believes in hard work and dedication. To recognize that we’re all fighting for no higher purpose other than to please our own desire, our own greed and lust for being better than the rest. He is a monster in getting what he wants, but at least he admits he’s not a priest.
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That’s only one of many themes I found lurking beneath the surface of this straightforward looking period piece. If given the chance, one could write a whole book containing nothing but readings on “There Will Be Blood”. It still is not my favorite of PTA’s work — “Magnolia” still sits on that throne — but I sincerely agree that it remains as the objective best film that he has ever made. An exemplary masterpiece for all other masterpieces to come.

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