There Will be Blood

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You may wonder why I would offer a review of a film that contains overt blasphemy and occasionally graphic violence. "There Will be Blood" is a dark picture. It captures the life of Daniel Plainview, an oil man in the southwest United States at the turn of the previous century. Plainview is willing to do whatever is necessary to secure leasing rights in order to drill for oil. He delivers on his promise to drill quickly and is highly successful in finding oil. Unfortunately he tries to fleece landowners by offering them "quail money" for drilling rights. In one provoking scene Plainview says, "There is a competition in me." He has to win in every circumstance. He hates people of all stripes but needs them in order to win.

Early in the picture one of his partners dies in a well. The partner is caring for an infant son. Plainview takes the son as his own and raises him as H.W. Plainview. The director allows you to see Plainview from H.W's perspective. H.W. sees his father for who he really is. H.W. is generally quiet but you know he is learning the wrong life lessons from his father. In the middle of the film H.W. is injured when a well comes in. H.W. loses his hearing and is sent to California for schooling. He returns a few months later with a tutor who communicates with his young student using sign language. At this point you can see the separation begin between Plainview and his son.

As the film reaches its end Plainview is now wealthy and living in a mansion. H.W. marries a girl he met at one of the towns where his father drilled. H.W. loves the oil business but wants to step out on his own. He asks for his fathers blessing. The competition is still in Plainview and he breaks the news to H.W. that he is not his son. The two part in silence with their relationship destroyed. Plainview is blinded by greed and throws away the last relationship he had.

One of the stong subplots of the movie is the relationship between Eli Sunday and Plainfield. Eli is a young pentecostal preacher in Little Boston, California. Plainview wants to buy the tract of land owned by Eli's father. Eli is actually a fraud. He is in the ministry for the money. Cloaked in his religiousity he tries to out manuver Plainview; first for money for his church and later for himself. There are a series of confrontations between the two, some violent, others psychological. Eli seemingly gains the upper hand on Plainview in the middle of the movie. But the last scene of the movie finds Eli visiting Plainview in his mansion, asking for money. The movie ends with Plainview killing Eli. The final line of the movie is uttered by Plainview when he says, "I'm finished."

The plot is intense and gripping. Although dark it never loses focus. The dialouge captures the essence of the characters. Sex does not play much of a role in the film. Violence is strong, especially in the final scene. The violence is not random or gorey. It is the rage of a man who is consumed with self and hates all others. I gave the movie a "5" for blasphemy, not so much for the lanuage but to highlight the fraud of Eli Sunday. I would have given the world view a "1" but it was slightly redeemed by the high road taken by H.W. at the end of the movie.

This movie is not fun. You won't watch it and feel happy. But if you want to see how far greed can go and what not to be like, then this movie is a must see.
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