Alone and battered, a man strikes silver ore under the scorching soils of New Mexico. He makes enough money to hire a few men as his attention shifts in the search for oil. He strikes again, and it is there a lifetime desire is born: a desire to acquire more.
With a deep and resounding voice, we hear that man speak for the first time as he attempts to lure the residents of a town into a business deal. His name is Daniel Plainview, and he is an oil man. Beside him always is his adopted son, H.W. He brings the boy along just so an illusion of a family is established, and the oil man is one step closer to the owners of potential prospects.
Daniel Plainview is one of the most riveting people I have ever met in the movies. He is not a mere caricature of the ugly side of American capitalism. Penned by the young and brilliant Paul Thomas Anderson and performed by the great Daniel-Day Lewis, Daniel Plainview brings forth a soul that is both an astonishing and compelling example of the evil that can be found in human nature.
Daniel Plainview wants to become increasingly wealthy. He hates people, but he knows that he needs people. So Daniel doesn’t let his hate flow out, he keeps his anger within him, and releases hypocrisy. Here is a man that is so filled with poise and presence that when he speaks, you listen. When he orders, you follow. When he talks, it is evident that he says each word with effort and control, making sure that you understand him; that you know what he wants. He is a selfish, conceited, and above all, a persuasive manipulator.
One night a young man approaches Daniel, and wishes to share information with him for a price. He agrees. Let’s just say that this leads him to the ranch of the Sunday family. It is a goat farm, but underneath it lays an ocean of oil. Daniel offers a price, makes a few promises, and the lot is his.
It is at this point where Daniel meets Eli Sunday, the preacher of the town’s church. He is a corrupt preacher, but his members don’t know that. When Daniel willfully ignores his promise to young Eli, a rivalry begins.
From the outside, they are obviously two very different men. Look deeper, and you’ll see the similarities. Both are deceivers, viewing people as nothing more than tools to fuel their wealth and ego. They have the same wicked intentions, but uses different methods of manipulation, which get into the way of the other. The tension between the two will escalate into harrowing heights. The title suggests things will only go worse.
I will not go any further with the plot. Instead, let me admire other aspects that also deserve praise. The cinematography by Robert Elswit is a wonderful display of visual poetry and the soundtrack by Jonny Greenwood that accompanies it makes “There Will Be Blood” a ravishing work of art.
I am convinced that “There Will Be Blood” is a masterpiece. Many will question its ending, and it will inspire arguments every time the movie is talked about. The movie concludes, how should I say this, in intense insanity. I think this is the perfect ending for a film like this, one that bluntly shows what has become of the man whose simple ambition turned to endless greed, which eventually plunged into sheer madness. Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like you to meet Daniel Plainview. Be careful though, he is more than an oil man.