There Will be Blood

    Greed and Faith are two major themes in American history. This continent was colonized by people who wanted to get ahead in life and by people escaping religious persecution. The very first colonies on the east coast were shaped by these two factors and they chased each other across the land as the county grew. We’ve never escaped them.
    And, of course, these themes represent opposites: the sacred and the profane, the spiritual and the worldly. Good and evil? Well, no. Both themes are hopelessly muddled morally.
    If you watch the previews to There Will be Blood, you might assume that it is about this struggle. Trailers always show the most obvious dramatic scenes because they have to hook you within a minute or so, therefore they can often be misleading. My suspicion about this movie is that it started out as an examination of this dichotomy, but Daniel Day Lewis, by way of his brilliant performance as Daniel Plainview, the oil magnate, took over the film and much of Paul Dano’s performance as the Reverend Eli Sunday, a young faith healer wound up on the cutting room floor.
    What’s left is a reiteration of Citizen Kane, wherein a man of will struggles to the top, but the qualities that make him successful eventually drive away everything and everyone he loves. As I say, that’s not a bad theme, even if it’s been done a thousand times before. I would recommend There Will be Blood on the basis of Daniel Day Lewis’ performance alone.
    I would have liked to have seen the other film though.


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February 2008
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