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“There Will Be Blood”, A Look into the Prospects of Westward Expansion

March 31, 2020 | by Dylan Speer

Paul Thomas Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood” is a different kind of western movie than we typically think of. The 2007 film takes a dive into the ruthlessness of the Southern California oil boom. It is not the typical John Wayne, Clint Eastwood cowboy shooter or gritty outlaw thriller. It still has its action moments, but the thrill comes from the various tense relationships and conflicting paths the characters take.

The story follows Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) on his quest for wealth. He starts his oil drilling company after striking an ore vein as a silver prospector in New Mexico. Plainview adopts an orphaned boy after a deadly accident in one of his wells, whom he uses as his business partner to present himself to potential investors as a family man. After being tipped off about a large oil deposit on a family ranch in Little Boston, California, Plainview and his son H.W. (Dillon Freasier) move west to investigate. They are able to negotiate a deal for the land but the son of the rancher, played by Paul Dano, rubs Plainview in the wrong direction with his expensive demands for his church. This is the beginning of their rivalry that rides the duration of the movie and fuels much of the conflict.

Plainview is an intense businessman with a very specific view of the world around him. He knows exactly what he wants, and he will not entertain anyone or thing that is not going to get where he wants to be. Day-Lewis again proves why he is one of the greatest actors of his generation with this performance. He nails the role of a powerful businessman while still being a caring father. One of the most impressive feats was his transition throughout out the movie to a bitter drunk with a vengeance. He really captures the tolls that the business and pleasures put on him through his life.

I am normally not a fan of dramas, which would be the main genre of this film, but Anderson has a way of reeling you in and keeping entertained for 2 and half hours. One of the ways he does this is with the score. The music is so intense and perfectly timed with some of the best cinematography you can find. For as long as the movie was, I never felt bored or like I was waiting for something to happen and much of that can be accredited to good writing. The writing had to accommodate multiple walks of life from early 1900’s and they covered it all well.

I highly recommend this movie, although the runtime can be intimidating, do not let it stop you from seeing this. A great performance all around and a good glimpse into the history books.

Daniel Plainview seeks the bounties that destruction can sometimes offer.

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