So, this afternoon I saw There Will Be Blood.
If you haven’t seen the film, this post will be gibberish in your ears, I apologize.
Just a few comments:
>I believe Daniel Day-Lewis is the greatest actor of our generation. His character here, Daniel Plainview, was immensely complex. Day-Lewis flings himself into his roles (and there aren’t many of them – 3 in the last 10 years). In fact, as I hear it, Day-Lewis broke a couple ribs during filming My Left Foot simply because he was hunched over so long, insisting as he was on staying in character and remaining in his wheelchair the entire time (much to the chagrin of the crew who had to lug him around between sets). If he doesn’t win an Oscar, the game is rigged.
>While watching, I thought that if one were to mix Flannery O’Connor with John Steinbeck (particularly The Violent Bear It Away with East of Eden), this is what you would get. Of course, as the credits rolled and I saw that the screenplay had been based on Upton Sinclair’s Oil!, this connection made more sense (how’s that for knowing what I’m seeing?? Just hand me the popcorn and don’t bother me with details, please). Sinclair was a contemporary with both O’Connor and Steinbeck. There really are some unique tones and textures to this literary era.
>How interesting is it that Eli and Daniel would have been the truest antagonists throughout the film? Eli, who seemed so weak, matched up against such a foreboding, powerful character. It seems to me a message there is that we had two false prophets, two men who manipulated and connived and used people to get what they wanted (power, money). Whether you scheme and twist in the name of God or in the name of oil, no difference.
>The most unsettling part of the movie to me was the music at the end, just after Plainview’s final line, “I’m finished.” (and what a classic understatement) The score for virtually the entire time was dark, putting me strangely on edge. And then – at that moment – to have a bright, bouncy, orchestral melody strike up. Wow.
>This movie truly is a character study. The overarching narrative seems, in many ways, peripheral to me. There is a lot to be considered, I think, if one were to pour over the many angles of Daniel Plainview.
>I, for one, however, will not be doing that. As glad as I am that I saw the movie, as truly genius a performace as Day-Lewis provided, as beautiful as the cinematic work was – it was just too haunting for me to mull over much more for now. Perhaps in another year, I would view it again and contemplate it further. But, after Eastern Promises and this film back to back, I think I will be hunting down Juno.
And, lastly, a question for those of you who saw it and want to chime in:
>Was there any redemption in the story other than when Daniel’s son stood up to his father, taking his life in his own hands?