January 12, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
Here's a review of the film all my friends are talking about:
2007 restored my faith in American period films. Lots of long titles and great material culture as well as highly watchable movies. The most recent, THERE WILL BE BLOOD, (title taken from Exodus 7:19) is no exception. When a move gets the hats correct mysteriously all other elements fall into place (usually). TWBB is at once a bio-pic and an exposition on Capitalism and Religion and the strange uniquely American marriage of the two.
TWBB opens with protagonist Daniel Plainview mining silver by himself, he gets injured and then crawls into town with his ore to the assayer’s office. Following events occur which show us that Plainview moves into oil and adopts an orphan. All sans dialogue. I didn’t time it but would guess it runs about ten or so minutes and we learn everything we need to know about this man and his drive. Off genre by a ways, the opening reminded me of the DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004) opening where we learn everything we need to know for the story with only images.
Plainview, now a successful oil man establishes operations in New Boston, and we see the roughnecks’ camp organized with military streets oriented on the derrick, the object of their worship, just as past centuries martial camps had their colours so situated and venerated. There are several antagonists for Plainview, notably a Pentecostal-influenced Elmer Gantry-like young preacher, Eli Sunday. Sunday’s family owned the land where the oil was discovered by Plainview, and the first salvo fired is when Plainview denies Sunday his invocation at the beginning of the drilling. Another notable protagonist is Plainview’s half-brother (Played by Kevin J. O’Conner who appeared in SERAPHIM FALLS but is most memorable as Beni in THE MUMMY franchise) who shows up and is so seemingly affable and innocent; Plainview brings him into the family business.
Plainview is not the normal corporate fat cat. He is self-made and family oriented almost to a fault. Understanding a young girl is being beaten by her father, Plainview lets him no in a surprisingly delicate way that he will not tolerate this. This tenderness is later overcome by Plainview’s inner-demons, but we are reminded that this is not a cardboard character.
The ending, as with the other endings of the long-titled period films this season is problematic. In NCFOM, if the viewer forgets the story is about Ed Tom, may be confused. Such is the case with TWWB. The story is about Daniel Plainview—a sympathetic and determined, fairly decent man at the beginning who becomes something else by the end.
—ALAN C. HUFFINES
"Yes, the Western is back, Bigtime."
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