May 18, 2011

There Will Be Blood (USA 2007)

Usually when a film gets rave reviews like "There Will Be Blood" did when it came out in 2007, I want to watch the film in question immediately. But I somehow never felt the urge to see "There Will Be Blood". Even now when a friend of mine finally borrowed it to me the Blu-Ray, I waited for over two weeks to watch it. And now after finally getting on to it I didn't really "like" the film in a conventional sense. I somehow expected that because it is a primarily negative film and films like that just don't correspond to my positive view of the world.

But that doesn't mean that I don't admire its greatness. In fact, there are probably not many better (made) films than "There Will Be Blood" in the past decade. It is such an immense accomplishment for the still young director Paul Thomas Anderson that some critics even compared it to the holy grail of film history, "Citizen Kane". This goes too far in my opinion but there are definitely parallels. Like "Kane" the film didn't even win the Oscar for "Best Picture" but this is not surprising after all since the film openly criticizes the very ground on which the American dream was built: capitalism. Daniel Plainview's obsessive need to succeed is indeed similar to the one Charles Foster Kane shows. And the cinematography is equally great even if the spectacular cinemascope vistas of "Blood" couldn't be more different to the striking black and white images in "Kane".

"There Will Be Blood" is also the one man show of Daniel Day Lewis. He dominates every scene with a great performance and makes his character fascinating even if he is not sympathethic. The lack of any real "good" characters - as Robert McKee like as that may sound - and the prevailing depressing atmosphere may be the major "flaw" of the film and the reason the film didn't find the audience it deserved. The intimate ending doesn't quite live up to the strong first two acts either.

Released in the time of America's oil and just before the financial crisis war the film can of course also be read on a wider scope both it still works best on an individual level: as proof that there are always some people willing to ruthlessly sacrifice everything else for their own success.


Greed is bad: Daniel Day Lewis in "There Will Be Blood"

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