There Will Be Blood, 2-Disc Collector’s Edition (2007)

by | Mar 28, 2008 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

There Will Be Blood, 2-Disc Collector’s Edition (2007)

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Kevin J. O’Connor
Written and Directed: Paul Thomas Anderson
Studio: Paramount Vantage [Street date: April 8, 08]
Video: Anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 Widescreen, color
Audio: English, 5.1 Dolby Surround; Spanish, 5.1 Dolby Surround; French, 5.1 Dolby Surround
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Extras: 15 Minutes (the making of “There Will Be Blood”), Trailers, Haircut / Interrupted Hymn, Dailies Gone Wild, “The Story of Petroleum” (1923 silent film)
Length: 158 minutes
Rating: ****

If ever a movie belonged to one actor, “There Will Be Blood” belongs to Daniel Day-Lewis, who won the Best Actor award for this role. He delivers a virtuosic performance filled with telling character details, unforgettable line readings, and fiery charisma. The character he plays, Daniel Plainview, is frightening, obsessed, and unstoppable. It’s an unforgettable performance. It’s just too bad that the rest of the movie doesn’t match Day-Lewis’s achievements.

“There Will Be Blood” is the life story of Daniel Plainview, an independent oil man. When we first see him, he is working alone, digging a mine out in the middle of a wilderness. His obsession and drive are quickly and horrifyingly displayed. As the years go by, he collects a son, finds a long lost brother, fights with a young preacher, and grows steadily richer. No man is a match for him. No task can best him. He destroys his enemies completely and he nurtures his hatred for all people like a precious treasure. The only enemy he can’t defeat is himself. At the end of the movie, we find him rich, drunk, and alone. The final scene of the movie plays at odds to the rest of the film—Day-Lewis’s performance is so over the top that it becomes laughable, it is overacting at the level of Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino.

Some of the other actors deserve a mention. Paul Dano, as the young preacher, does quite nicely. He’s a match for Day-Lewis in nearly every scene they share, which is not an easy task. Kevin J. O’Connor as Daniel’s supposed brother delivers a quiet, earnest and ultimately tragic performance. The other star of the film is the music by Jonny Greenwood—mostly a low level violin score that sets your nerves on edge and never lets up, and at other times it mimics the mechanical pumping of an oil well providing drive and intensity. The music is so well-incorporated into the film that it’s hard to imagine “There Will Be Blood” without it. It’s nearly as memorable as Day-Lewis’s performance and just as powerful. In the extras, there is an interesting 1923 silent movie, “The Story of Petroleum.” It was produced by the Bureau of Mines to educate the public about the new industry in our country, when we were the world’s biggest oil producer. It’s fascinating to see and compare actual footage from the same time period depicted in “There Will Be Blood,” and seeing how close they came to matching it.

All in all, this film is worth seeing for the performances found in it. The cinematography is exceptionally fine and the sound quality of the DVD is first-class. However, the flow of the narrative is like listening to a story told by a drunk—it lurches and falters, skipping over some details while fixating on other extraneous ones, losing the point of the story and ending up on an anticlimactic note. Witnessing the spectacle of the telling is riveting, but in the end you’re not sure it was worth it or even what it was all really about.

– Hermon Joyner


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