|There Will Be Blood|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Paul Thomas Anderson|
|Produced by||Paul Thomas Anderson
|Written by||Paul Thomas Anderson
Upton Sinclair (Novel)
|Music by||Jonny Greenwood|
|Editing by||Dylan Tichenor|
|Distributed by||Paramount Vantage
|Release date(s)||December 26, 2007|
|Running time||158 minutes|
approached $70 million
|Gross revenue||$76.1 million|
There Will Be Blood is a 2007 American drama film directed, written and co-produced by Paul Thomas Anderson. The film is loosely based on the Upton Sinclair novel Oil! (1927). It tells the story of a silver-miner-turned-oil-man on a ruthless quest for wealth during Southern California's oil boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano.
The film received significant critical praise and numerous award nominations and victories. It appeared on many critics' "top ten" lists for the year, notably the American Film Institute, the National Society of Film Critics, the National Board of Review, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Day-Lewis won Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, NYFCC, and IFTA Best Actor awards for his performance. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, winning Best Actor for Day-Lewis and Best Cinematography for Robert Elswit.
In late 2009, it was chosen by Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, and Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune and At the Movies as the best film of the '00s. The result of such decade-ending picks, as well as other decade-ending picks naming it one of the best films of the decade, make it the film with arguably more claim than any other to being the single most critically acclaimed film of the decade.
In 1902 Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), a mineral prospector, discovers oil and establishes a small drilling company. Following the death of one of his workers in an accident, Plainview adopts the man's orphaned son (his mother nowhere to be found). The boy, whom he names H.W. (Dillon Freasier), becomes his nominal business "partner".
Nine years later, Plainview is approached by Paul Sunday (Paul Dano) who tells him about the oil deposit under his family's property in Little Boston, California. Plainview attempts to buy the farm at a bargain price but Paul's twin brother Eli (also Paul Dano), wise to Plainview's plan, holds out for $10,000, wanting the money to fund the local church, of which he is the pastor. Plainview has Eli's father agree to the bargain price instead, and goes on to snatch up the available land in the Little Boston area, except for one holdout - William Bandy (Hans Howes). Oil production begins. Later, an on-site accident kills a worker, and later still, a large explosion robs H.W. of his hearing.
One day, a visitor (Kevin J. O'Connor) arrives on Plainview's doorstep claiming to be his half-brother, Henry, and is seeking work. Plainview takes the stranger in, and though H.W. discovers flaws in his story he keeps the news to himself; the boy then attempts to kill Henry by setting his bed linen alight. Angered at his son's behavior, Plainview sends the boy away to a school in San Francisco. A representative from Standard Oil later offers to buy out Plainview's local interests, but he elects to strike a deal with Union Oil instead and construct a pipeline to the Californian coast, though the Bandy ranch remains an impediment. After spending more time with Henry, Plainview also becomes suspicious; Henry finally confesses that he was actually a friend of the real Henry, who has long since died from tuberculosis. Assuming the worst, Plainview kills the fake-Henry and buries his body.
The next morning, Plainview is awakened by Mr. Bandy, who appears to be aware of the previous night's events. Bandy agrees to Plainview's deal but only on the provision that the latter mends his ways and joins the Church of the Third Revelation, where Eli humiliates him as part of his initiation. Plainview soon reunites with H.W., and Eli eventually leaves town to perform missionary work.
In 1927, a much older H.W. (Russell Harvard) marries his childhood sweetheart Mary Sunday (Colleen Foy), his father now an alcoholic but extremely wealthy, living in a mansion with only a servant for company. H.W. asks his father (through an interpreter) to dissolve their partnership so he can establish his own business. Betrayed, Plainview mocks his son's deafness and tells him of his true origins, leaving H.W. with no regrets when he finally leaves.
Some time later, Eli, now a radio host and the head of a larger church, visits Plainview, but it becomes clear that Eli is in dire financial straits and desperate, explaining that Mr. Bandy has died and that he offers to broker a deal on his land. Plainview agrees to the deal if Eli confesses: "I am a false prophet, God is a superstition", subjecting him to the same humiliation he had put him through years earlier. Eli does so after much berating by Plainview. To Eli's horror Plainview then reveals scathingly that he had already drained the oil from the property through surrounding wells. Plainview suddenly goes into a rage, chases Eli about the room, and then beats him to death with a bowling pin. When Plainview's butler comes down to check on him, Plainview simply says "I'm finished" as the film ends.
Originally, Paul Thomas Anderson had been working on a screenplay about two fighting families. He struggled with the script and soon realized it just was not working. Homesick, he purchased a copy of Upton Sinclair's Oil! in London, drawn to its cover illustration of a California oilfield. As he read, Anderson became even more fascinated with the novel and adapted the first 150 pages to a screenplay. He began to get a real sense of where his script was going after making many trips to museums dedicated to early oilmen in Bakersfield. He changed the title from Oil! to There Will Be Blood because, "there's not enough of the book to feel like it's a proper adaptation." He wrote the original screenplay with Daniel Day-Lewis in mind and approached the actor when the script was nearly complete. Anderson had heard that Daniel Day-Lewis liked his earlier film Punch-Drunk Love, which gave him the confidence to hand Day-Lewis a copy of the incomplete script. According to Day-Lewis, simply being asked to do the film was enough to convince him. In an interview with the The New York Observer, the actor elaborated on what drew him to the project. It was "the understanding that [Anderson] had already entered into that world. [He] wasn't observing it — [he'd] entered into it — and indeed [he'd] populated it with characters who [he] felt had lives of their own."
The line in the final scene, "I drink your milkshake!", is paraphrased from a quote by New Mexico Senator Albert Fall speaking before a Congressional investigation into the 1920s oil-related Teapot Dome scandal. Anderson was enamored of the use of the term "milkshake" to explain the complicated technical process of oil drainage to senators.
According to JoAnne Sellar, one of the film's producers, it was a hard film to finance because, "the studios didn't think it had the scope of a major picture." It took two years to acquire financing for the film.
For the role of Plainview's son, Anderson looked at people in Los Angeles and New York City, but he realized that they needed someone from Texas who knew how to shoot shotguns and "live in that world." The filmmakers asked around at a school and the principal recommended Dillon Freasier. They did not have him read any scenes and instead talked to him, realizing that he was the perfect person for the role.
To start building his character, Day-Lewis started with the voice. Anderson sent him recordings from the late 19th century to 1927 and a copy of the 1948 film, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, including documentaries on its director, John Huston, an important influence on Anderson's film. According to Anderson, he was inspired by the fact that Sierra Madre is "about greed and ambition and paranoia and looking at the worst parts of yourself." While writing the script, he would put the film on before he went to bed at night. To research for the role, Day-Lewis read letters from laborers and studied photographs from the time period. He also read up on oil tycoon Edward Doheny upon whom Sinclair's book is loosely based.
Filming started in June 2006 on a ranch in Marfa, Texas and took three months. Other location shooting took place in Los Angeles. Anderson tried to shoot the script in sequence with most of the sets on the ranch. Two weeks into the 60-day shoot, Anderson replaced the actor playing Eli Sunday with Paul Dano, who had originally only been cast in the much smaller role of Paul Sunday, the brother who tipped off Plainview about the oil on the Sunday ranch. A profile of Day-Lewis in The New York Times Magazine suggested that the original actor (Kel O'Neill) had been intimidated by Day-Lewis's intensity and habit of staying in character on and off the set. Both Anderson and Day-Lewis deny this claim, and Day-Lewis stated, "I absolutely don't believe that it was because he was intimidated by me. I happen to believe that — and I hope I'm right."
Anderson first saw Dano in The Ballad of Jack and Rose (in which Dano co-starred with Day-Lewis) and thought that he would be perfect to play Paul Sunday, a role he originally envisioned to be a 12 or 13-year-old boy. Dano only had four days to prepare for the much larger role of Eli Sunday, but he researched the time period that the film is set in as well as evangelical preachers. Three weeks of scenes with Sunday and Plainview had to be re-shot with Dano instead of O'Neill. The interior mansion scenes were filmed at the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, the former real-life home of Edward Doheny Jr., a gift from his father Edward Doheny. Scenes filmed at Greystone involved the careful renovation of the basement's two lane bowling alley.
Anderson had been a fan of Radiohead's music and was impressed with Jonny Greenwood's scoring of the film Bodysong. While writing the script for There Will Be Blood, Anderson heard Greenwood's orchestral piece Popcorn Superhet Receiver, which prompted him to ask Greenwood to work with him. After initially agreeing to score the film, Greenwood had doubts and thought about backing out, but Anderson's reassurance and enthusiasm for the film convinced the musician to stick with the project. Anderson gave Greenwood a copy of the film and three weeks later he came back with two hours of music recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London. Concerning his approach to composing the soundtrack, Greenwood said to Entertainment Weekly:
I think it was about not necessarily just making period music, which very traditionally you would do. But because they were traditional orchestral sounds, I suppose that's what we hoped was a little unsettling, even though you know all the sounds you're hearing are coming from very old technology. You can just do things with the classical orchestra that do unsettle you, that are sort of slightly wrong, that have some kind of undercurrent that's slightly sinister.
The film also contains the cello and piano transcription of Fratres by Arvo Pärt, and the third movement from Johannes Brahms's Violin Concerto. The recording is by violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter with the Berlin Philharmonic directed by Herbert von Karajan.
The song "Convergence", which can be heard during the tower explosion sequence, was taken straight from the Bodysong soundtrack.
The first public screening of There Will Be Blood was on September 29, 2007, at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. The film was released on December 26, 2007, in New York and Los Angeles where it grossed US$190,739 on its opening weekend. The film then opened in 885 theaters in selected markets on January 25, 2008, grossing $4.8 million on its opening weekend. The film went on to make $40.2 million in North America and $35.9 million in the rest of the world, with a worldwide total of $76.1 million, well above its $25 million budget.
The film received very positive reviews from critics. As of February 8, 2009, on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 91% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 195 reviews. On Metacritic, the film has an average score of 92 out of 100, based on 39 reviews.
Andrew Sarris called the film "an impressive achievement in its confident expertness in rendering the simulated realities of a bygone time and place, largely with an inspired use of regional amateur actors and extras with all the right moves and sounds." In Premiere magazine, Glenn Kenny praised Day-Lewis's performance: "Once his Plainview takes wing, the relentless focus of the performance makes the character unique." Manohla Dargis wrote, in her review for The New York Times, "the film is above all a consummate work of art, one that transcends the historically fraught context of its making, and its pleasures are unapologetically aesthetic." Esquire magazine also praised Day-Lewis's performance: "what's most fun, albeit in a frightening way, is watching this greedmeister become more and more unhinged as he locks horns with Eli Sunday...both Anderson and Day-Lewis go for broke. But it's a pleasure to be reminded, if only once every four years, that subtlety can be overrated." Richard Schickel in Time magazine praised There Will Be Blood as "one of the most wholly original American movies ever made." Critic Tom Charity, writing about CNN's ten-best films list, calls the film the only "flat-out masterpiece" of 2007.
Schickel also named the film one of the Top 10 Movies of 2007, ranking it at #9, calling Daniel Day Lewis' performance "astonishing", and calling the film "a mesmerizing meditation on the American spirit in all its maddening ambiguities: mean and noble, angry and secretive, hypocritical and more than a little insane in its aspirations."
However some critics were more negative. In particular, Armond White, of the New York Press, has taken numerous opportunities to criticize the film. In his original review of There Will Be Blood, White suggested that the "musical wit disguises the story's incoherence—its meaningless siblings, silences and opportunistic sadism", feeling that the film's finale was "confusing and slapdash" and "comes across as just secular-progressive prejudice and loopy, unconvincing drama". In 2008, White would explicitly reference There Will Be Blood as an example of "unpleasurable" film-making in his reviews of at least five other films. In 2009, White criticized the "toothless Robert Altman gumming" of director Paul Thomas Anderson, adding that Blood was a "symptom of everything wrong with the American experience." Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle shot out at the film's praises by saying "there should be no need to pretend There Will Be Blood is a masterpiece just because Anderson sincerely tried to make it one." Several months after his initial review of the film, LaSalle reiterated that while he felt it was "clear" that There Will Be Blood was not a masterpiece, he wondered if its "style, an approach, an attitude... might become important in the future." Carla Meyer, of the Sacramento Bee, gave the film three and a half out of four stars, calling it a "masterpiece", she said that the final confrontation between Daniel and Eli marked when There Will Be Blood "stops being a masterpiece and becomes a really good movie. What was grand becomes petty, then overwrought."
The film was on the American Film Institute's 10 Movies of the Year; AFI's jury said:
There Will Be Blood is bravura film-making by one of American film's modern masters. Paul Thomas Anderson's epic poem of savagery, optimism and obsession is a true meditation on America. The film drills down into the dark heart of capitalism, where domination, not gain, is the ultimate goal. In a career defined by transcendent performances, Daniel Day-Lewis creates a character so rich and so towering, that "Daniel Plainview" will haunt the history of film for generations to come.
In November 2009, the critics of Time Out New York chose the film as the second-best of the decade, saying:
In December 2009, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone chose the film as the #1 best movie of the decade, saying:
Two years after first seeing There Will Be Blood, I am convinced that Paul Thomas Anderson's profound portrait of an American primitive—take that, Citizen Kane—deserves pride of place among the decade's finest. Daniel Day-Lewis gave the best and ballsiest performance of the past 10 years. As Daniel Plainview, a prospector who loots the land of its natural resources in silver and oil to fill his pockets and gargantuan ego, he showed us a man draining his humanity for power. And Anderson, having extended Plainview's rage from Earth to heaven in the form of a corrupt preacher (Paul Dano), managed to "drink the milkshake" of other risk-taking directors. If I had to stake the future of film in the next decade on one filmmaker, I'd go with PTA. Even more than Boogie Nights and Magnolia—his rebel cries from the 1990s—Blood let Anderson put technology at the service of character. The score by Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood was a sonic explosion that reinvented what film music could be. And the images captured by Robert Elswit, a genius of camera and lighting, made visual poetry out of an oil well consumed by flame. For the final word on Blood, I'll quote Plainview: "It was one goddamn hell of a show."
This most eccentric and haunting of modern epics is driven by oilman Daniel Plainview, who, in the hands of actor Daniel Day-Lewis, becomes a Horatio Alger story gone horrible wrong. Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson’s camera is as crucial to the films hypnotic pull as the performance at its center. For its evocation of the early 1900’s, its relentless focus on one man’s fascinating obsessions, and for its inspiring example of how to freely adapt a novel--plus, what I think is the performance of the new century--There Will Be Blood stands alone. The more I see it, the sadder, and stranger, and more visually astounding it grows--and the more it seems to say about the best and worst in the American ethos of rugged individualism. Awfully good!
Entertainment Weekly critic Lisa Schwarzbaum named There Will Be Blood the decade's best film as well. In her original review, Schwarzbaum stated:
Anyhow, a fierce story meshing big exterior-oriented themes of American character with an interior-oriented portrait of an impenetrable man (two men, really, including the false prophet Sunday) is only half Anderson's quest, and his exciting achievement. The other half lies in the innovation applied to the telling itself. For a huge picture, There Will Be Blood is exquisitely intimate, almost a collection of sketches. For a long, slow movie, it speeds. For a story set in the fabled bad-old-days past, it's got the terrors of modernity in its DNA. Leaps of romantic chordal grandeur from Brahms' Violin Concerto in D Major announce the launch of a fortune-changing oil well down the road from Eli Sunday's church — and then, much later, announce a kind of end of the world. For bleakness, the movie can't be beat — nor for brilliance.
In December 2009, the website Gawker.com determined that There Will Be Blood is film critics' consensus best film of the decade when aggregating all Best of the Decade lists, stating: "And when the votes were all in, by a nose, There Will Be Blood stood alone at the top of the decade, its straw in the whole damn cinema's milkshake."
The list of critics who lauded There Will Be Blood in their assessments of films from the past decade include:
The film was released on DVD on April 8, 2008. It was released with one and two disc editions, both are packaged in a cardboard case. Anderson has refused to record a commentary for the film. A HD DVD release was confirmed, but later canceled due to the death of the format. A Blu-ray edition was released on June 3, 2008. The film has grossed $23,604,823 through DVD sales.
8 nominations including:
9 nominations including:
2 nominations including:
5 wins including:
4 wins including:
4 wins including:
2 wins including:
Anderson was also nominated by the Writers Guild of America for "Best Adapted Screenplay".
The film also garnered a "Producer of the Year Award" nomination from the Producers Guild of America.
Director of photography Robert Elswit won the American Society of Cinematographers' award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography.
In the media, there have been multiple uses of the title/phrase "There will be blood" to describe themes or subjects that have no immediate relation to the film itself. "Oh Yes... There Will Be Blood" was the tagline for the 2005 film Saw II, though popular usage of the phrase increased following the release of Anderson's film in late 2007. There have been numerous uses of the phrase, or puns of the phrase, in the press. Examples of the disparate subject matter to which the phrase has been applied include the appearance of the phrase on the cover of the February 18, 2008 issue of Newsweek, in reference to heated controversy within the Republican party in regards to John McCain; as the title to a feature on the teen vampire film Twilight in Empire; as a punned title to a Vanity Fair photo editorial featuring Emily Blunt; as a title to a New York Times book review about a memoir concerning menstruation; and many times as a title for print and web articles discussing conflicts between parties or products.
In 2008, "There Might Be Blood" was the title of two episodes of two different television programs, Psych and Gossip Girl. The phrase has also been referenced by the Food Network show Good Eats, in a July episode titled "There Might Be Oil," in which that episode's theme ingredient was edible oils. In June 2009, the USA Network television series Royal Pains aired an episode entitled "There Will Be Food." The Comedy Central TV show The Daily Show has made several references to There Will Be Blood, including a June 2008 segment about Midwestern floods titled "There Will Be Flood." The Comedy Central show The Colbert Report also used the phrase in February 2008, when host Stephen Colbert began a fake brawl with fellow television entertainer Conan O'Brien by yelling, "Oh, there will be blood!" On the comedy video website Funny or Die, a video titled "There Will Be Oscars" features comedian David Spade as Daniel Plainview, ominously warning against the cancellation of the Oscar ceremony due to the writers' strike. In March 2008, the comedy duo Smosh made a parody video for YouTube titled "There Will Be Pokémon," which illustrates the last part of the film. During season 25, the TV quiz show Jeopardy featured a category titled "There Will Be Blood Sausage." In August 2008, rapper Young Buck, formerly of the hip-hop group G-Unit, released a new track titled, "There Will Be Blood." In December 2008, the Florida fight organization Mixed Fighting Alliance organized an event titled "There Will Be Blood." In 2009, the Academy Award-nominated soundtrack to the critically-acclaimed film The Hurt Locker included a track titled "There Will Be Bombs." The frequency of references to the particular phrase prompted media journalist Steven Zeitchik of The Hollywood Reporter to proclaim, "There Has Been Enough."
Some fans of the film believe Daniel Plainview's memorable quote "I drink your milkshake" will join the ranks of other famous film lines within pop culture. That particular quote has been used in other media repeatedly. In season 24 of Jeopardy, "I Drink Your Milkshake" was the title of a category about milkshakes. Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show and the 80th Academy Awards (for which There Will Be Blood was nominated for eight Oscars), has referenced the phrase "I drink your milkshake" several times on his show in response to news involving oil drilling, including during interviews with Ted Koppel and Nancy Pelosi. In February 2008, the night before the 80th Academy Awards, a Saturday Night Live skit featured a Food Network show starring Daniel Plainview (played by Bill Hader) and H.W. Plainview (played by Amy Poehler) called "I Drink Your Milkshake" in which Daniel and his son travel from state to state looking for the perfect milkshake. "I drink your milkshake" has inspired a There Will Be Blood fansite of the same name, as well as a YouTube video called "There Will Be Milkshakes" which features a montage of scenes from the film with the song "Milkshake" by Kelis playing in the background. Also, in Valve's Team Fortress 2, one of the Scout's responses to dominating an enemy Heavy is "I...eat...your...sandwiches! I eat 'em up!"
Other media references include the South Park episode "Breast Cancer Show Ever", which parodied the final scene of the film: after Wendy beats up Cartman, Mr. Mackey approaches and says "Wendy!" to which she replies "I'm finished" as Cartman lies facedown in blood. The December 8, 2008 episode of the stop-motion animation comedy show Robot Chicken featured a brief parody of the film in a segment titled "Just the Good Parts", which singled the oil rig explosion that robs H.W. of his hearing and the line "A BASTARD IN A BASKET" near the end of the film as the most notable parts of the film. A Daily Show segment used a film clip of Daniel Plainview speaking to the residents of Little Boston to poke fun at real-life Big Oil executives, while The Colbert Report utilized a clip from the film's oil derrick explosion scene in the segment "Aqua Colbert." On the Metalocalypse episode "Snakes 'n' Barrels II," which premiered on August 24, 2008, Leonard Rockstein appears at a sobriety rally and talks about getting rid of Dr. Rockzo, his drug-abusing clown alter ego, and demonstrates to his audience how he "[killed] that part of [himself]" by yelling "Get out, clown! Get out!", parodying Eli's exorcism of his parishioners. In the deleted scenes for the Academy Award-nominated film In the Loop (film), two characters debate the accuracy of the title of There Will Be Blood, with one proclaiming, "I went to see There Will Be Blood. And there wasn't any [expletive] blood."
Letters from Iwo Jima
|LAFCA Award for Best Film
|NSFC Award for Best Film
Waltz with Bashir