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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Literature > Oil > Industry > Capitalism > There Will Be Blood: 2-Disc Collector’s Edition (DVD-Video/Paramount)

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.


Travelling 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.


This was 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.


When the 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.


The 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.


The two 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.


On its 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.



The 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 accompaniment off.


For more on Greenwood’s work outside of the great band Radiohead, trey this link for the DVD release Bodysong:






-   Nicholas Sheffo


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