“I see the worst in people. I don’t need to look past seeing them to get all I need. I’ve built my hatreds up over the years, little by little…”
These are the words of Daniel Plainview. He arrived at the small California community of Little Boston in 1907 in search of somewhere to drill for oil. Accompanying him is his son, H.W., whom he keeps by his side constantly. Each day, he brings H.W. along to show him the ways of his trade. Not only is he a slick businessman, but he is also an ambitious one, and everything seems to be going right for him until disaster strikes during drilling one day. This event is the breaking point for Plainview, who then finds it near impossible to keep his temper concealed. It is only then that we see the man as he really is.
In a vivid Oscar-winning performance, Daniel Day-Lewis embodies the character of Plainview. On the opposite side is Paul Dano depicting the foolish pastor who the oil man claims as his enemy. Both are great performances, but they are not all that captivates those who enter into this film. The expansive desert setting, the chilling musical score, and the wonderful direction evoke just the right feelings from the audience. Even though it can be received as entertainment, it is also a great work of art. If it had not been pitted against the Coen’s No Country for Old Men in 2007’s Best Picture race, there is no doubt in my mind that it could have nabbed the award.
Even without a statuette, There Will Be Blood is an instant classic. Most filmmakers might have been tempted to make a conventional Hollywood drama or action thriller when given the source material of Upton Sinclair’s Oil!. I am certainly glad that director Anderson made it the way he did. His atmospheric epic seems to have taken some lessons in characterization from Henri-Georges Clouzot’s dark, grimy The Wages of Fear. When considering this, it is no wonder I enjoyed it so much.