“It’s a gamble you take, the risk of alienating an audience. But there’s a theory – sometimes it’s better to confuse them for five minutes than let them get ahead of you for 10 seconds.”, spoke Paul Thomas Anderson to some reporters on the sets of ‘The Master’. A man who, remarkably, made a film of the quality of ‘Boogie Nights’ at just 27 years of age, PT Anderson has won a host of admirers over a two-decade career for his own. Anderson’s films and scripts are in some way a throwback to a bygone era – where every story isn’t understandable at the first glance, where the plot just goes on and makes the audiences unclear about the motive of the cinema and where morally incorrect men often act as the catalyst to the story.
But for those who were thrilled by the bold style and highly technical camerawork of Paul Thomas Anderson’s early films—most notably, ensemble epics ‘Boogie Nights’ and ‘Magnolia’, romantic comedy ‘Punch-Drunk Love’, the unadorned boldness and ruthlessness of ‘There Will Be Blood’ must have come as a shock. No ensemble cast, no kinetic cinematography, the camera slowly winding through cranky environments like oil slowly winding through hardened earth, there was a whole new atmosphere created by PT Anderson and in that dark and gritty atmosphere, he got his masterpiece.
When ‘There Will Be Blood’ landed in the theaters and in front of the critics, it was acclaimed almost immediately as an instant classic, one of the best films of the decade. While his earlier films had found mixed response in awards season, this received eight Academy Award nominations, including winning for both Best Cinematography for Robert Elswit, and Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis and nomination for Best Director for Paul Thomas Anderson, his first, who lost to the well-deserved Coen Brothers (No Country for Old Men).
There will be Blood is a vicious tale of greed, obsession and betrayal decorated by exquisite performances, stunning cinematography and commanding direction. It tells a ruthless story of a silver-miner turned oilman Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) on an obsessive quest for wealth during Southern California’s oil boom of the late 19th and 20th centuries. In order to get more oilfields and to strike further deals, he adopts a boy and names him as H.W to help build a façade of a lovable family man for himself. Subsequently, a young man named Paul Sunday (Paul Dano) visits Plainview’s camp and offers to sell information about his family’s ranch, which he claims to have an ocean of oil underneath it. Plainview and H.W. travel to the Sunday Ranch pretending to be on quail hunting while hiding their ulterior motive of verifying Paul’s claim.
“I don’t want to succeed” he says “I don’t want others to succeed” – a line spoken by a pure tyrannical Sociopath that resides within Daniel Plainview. The world of cinema has seen a plethora of phenomenal performers, who over the years have entranced billions of viewers globally with their effort, subtlety, elegance and craziness, but I can certainly say that very few of their performances can match Daniel Day-Lewis’ portrayal of Daniel Plainview in this film for sheer ruthlessness, panache, arrogance and downright demonic. Being the chameleon that he truly is, Daniel Day-Lewis incredibly musters up all his God-gifted talent as an actor to create his morally incorrect alter ego, Daniel Plainview, whose despicable smirked face joined by his evil filled eyes makes him one of the strongest and the most fascinating characters ever incarnated on the silver screen. Daniel Day-Lewis is at the top of his game and virtually unstoppable as Daniel Plainview, a portrayal that not only rejuvenated him as an actor, but also established him as someone who wouldn’t leave a single stone unturned to bring his character to life and perhaps it is this very attribute that has helped him in his journey to be the absolute best at what he does.
Paul Dano is absolutely brilliant as Paul/Eli Sunday and has complimented Daniel Day-Lewis in every sense of the word. He even had mere 4 days to prepare for the role and the way he delivers the role is unbelievably exceptional. Eli Sunday is ambitious, energetic, poised and despite being highly contrasting to Daniel Plainview, ironically, is quite similar to him, especially the uncanny attitude that helped them both to influence others. The chemistry and the growing tension between them is what makes the movie more haunting and so spectacular.
Visually, ‘There will be Blood’ is an outstanding piece of art — every nuance of every cinematic component work so well with one another to help give the film such power and impact. Every scene is painted with such elegance and with such brilliance that it would make any art admirer gulp in awe many times throughout the film and Robert Elswit effortlessly and masterfully captures that essence throughout the film.
Now, as far as storytelling goes, PT Anderson hits a home-run here as well. His narrative does not follow any legitimate path which, in all sense, is intended but the unfolding of each and every scene with some heart-wrenching dialogues defines his writing as a masterpiece on its own and that is clearly noticeable with iconic scenes like the infamous confession scene and the milkshake scene.
P.T Anderson proved, once again, his excellence and significance as a powerful and valiant director and manages to pack a punch with this deeply disturbing masterpiece. The movie incredibly succeeds on every level, haunts you, plays with the emotions and despite of all the devastating moments and scenes, ‘There Will be Blood’ entertains immensely, while still delivering a strong message. It was undoubtedly one of the best pictures of 2007 and today it is rightfully one of the best of the decade, if not, of all times. And as Daniel Day-Lewis says his final dialogue “I am finished”, the curtains fall and the film becomes immortal.