There Will Be Blood: 2-Disc Collector’s Edition (DVD-Video/Paramount)
Picture: B- Sound: B- Extras: B- Film: B-
After Punch Drunk Love, a bomb and now cult
film of sorts many thought was a mistake by writer/director Paul Thomas
Anderson to even try, he returned with his most ambitious epic film yet, a
fascinating adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s classic book Oil! from 1926. There Will Be Blood (2007) stars Daniel
Day Lewis as Daniel Plainview, one of the first men to strike oil and as a
result, is one of the first men to realize its financial potential. This leads him to build a private empire that
eventually will be a living hell.
with his son, using him in part to appeal to those with families in a way other
businessmen would not consider or try, Plainview signs contract after contract
and at first has principles. However,
they slowly erode as he loses sight of real life and increasingly becomes the
very thing he did not intend to become, though he always was driven by
business. In one of his biggest finds,
he encounters a religious man (Paul Dano) who is passionate about his version
of Christianity, but when he cannot build on that with Plainview’s help,
quickly become nemesis to each other until the final battle of wills.
a daring film to make at a time when oil has become a hot topic of debate and
suspicion, when the giant companies that today have resulted from men like
Plainfield are seeing record profits as the rest of the economy and country
sees so much trouble, with some irony that this film ends during The Great
Depression. It is also a duel sword that
Lewis is doing the voice of John Huston (almost channeling) to some extent,
conjuring his own serious, gritty work as a director as well as his chilling
performance in Roman Polanski’s Chinatown
(1974) as chilling mirror here.
title was first announced, many thought it was another bad torture porn film,
but Anderson is a director who when he applies himself, is one of the best of
his generation. I still like Magnolia the most of his works, but
this film works more than not. However,
whereas Anderson was starting to find his voice going the Robert Altman route (Blood is dedicated to the master
filmmaker) in previous films, He takes a turn in what we could call “A Cinema
of Loneliness’ Greatest Hits” named for the Robert Kolker book (now in its
third volume) where Anderson is trying to emulate so many great directors, he
loses his own identity to some extent.
Altman, Stanley Kubrick, Francis Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Orson Welles and
even Terrence Malick aspirations are apparent and respectfully, effectively
done. However, it is the less recognized
and underrated Nicolas Roeg who also figures very prominently and if you are as
much of a fan as this writer is, then the last hour becomes more predictable
than apparently most critics thought.
films that are key here are two of Roeg’s best.
One is The Man Who Fell To Earth
(1976, reviewed elsewhere on this site) and the far less-seen Eureka (1983, on DVD from MGM) which is
about a man (Gene Hackman) who also discovers treasure buried (this time
Klondikes) only to see the wealth destroy life around him. I highly recommend both films as viewing
along with There Will Be Blood for a
thorough look at how Anderson’s mind works and how underrated and important
Roeg has been at his best.
own, though, There Will Be Blood is
a formidable film that is worth your time and will be discussed for years to
come. I just hope in his next project,
Anderson can start to more distinctually reassert himself.
anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image was shot in real anamorphic Panavision
by Robert Elswit, A.S.C., who is one a huge roll as one of the top Director of
Photography, has lensed all of Anderson’s feature films beginning with Hard Eight (1996) and the collaboration
has only become deeper. For the DVD
format, the picture looks good with decent color, good definition and some good
detail. An HD-DVD of this was cancelled,
but a Blu-ray will eventually be announced.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 has a sound mix with character and a fine music
score by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. Extras
on DVD 2 include a segment of over 40 minutes of footage including 15 minutes
of the results of found stills, pictures and documents found and used in the
making of the film, a teaser, a trailer, “fishing” sequence, Hair cut/Interrupted
Hymn and Dailies Gone Wild. You also get
Greenwood scoring The Story of Petroleum,
a 1923 silent film about the rise of the fuel that powered the U.S. to the top
and Greenwood is far more successful than most in pulling this kind of
on Greenwood’s work outside of the great band Radiohead, trey this link for the
DVD release Bodysong:
- Nicholas Sheffo