He might not have been “shootin’ at some food” but for Daniel Plainville it’s all about that “bubblin’ crude. Oil that is. Black Gold.
Daniel Plainville, traveling the country with his adopted son, is a slick salesman. He enters towns where oil has been discovered and attempts to get the land leases to mine the oil. His presentation has the sound of a snake oil salesman, and about as much sincerity. Dennis DeYoung once said in a song that sincerity was the key. Once you learn to fake it, he explains, you’re going to be home free. He must have been talking about a man like Daniel Plainville. He talks a good game of family, God, and community, but in reality has time for none of those things. He readily admits in private that he doesn’t like people very much. Many of his arrogant choices come back to haunt him in a series of events that can only be characterized as poetic justice gone wild.
The film is based on work by Upton Sinclair. Sinclair was a social justice crusader who came to renown when he wrote a rather shocking expose of the meat industry. The Jungle led to many of the food standards that we take for granted today. There Will Be Blood is no exception to Sinclair’s body of work.. Daniel Plainville (Day Lewis) learns that the town of
The film’s strongest link is the absolutely phenomenal performances given by every actor in the cast. Daniel Day-Lewis received a much deserved Academy Award for the role. I honestly wouldn’t have the room here to say enough about his performance. Without a lot of visible effort, he wears the part so completely and so comfortably that he is at once believable. I especially love it when an actor chooses the subtle style to bring out nuances in a character that, while they might not be readily noticeable, leave us thoroughly convinced that he is who he says he is. This is one of those performances. Paul Dano, to a lesser degree, accomplishes a lot as Ely the preacher. He sometimes reaches for effect, and it might not be apparent at all if not for the presence of Day-Lewis. A strong nod should go out to Dillon Freasier who plays H.W.,
There Will Be Blood is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. There’s not a lot of color in the film’s locations, so the film has to rely on its clarity and attention to detail here. Black levels are quite vital, and for the most part they do not disappoint. For a film with such a long running time, I expected to see more compression artifact than I did. Actually it is in the film’s opening act that any minor problems present themselves. There is nothing shiny or bright about the world this film presents, but it does it with a fine eye for detail that makes up for the rather drab palette.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation is not a terribly dynamic one, nor should it be. Music plays a key role here, and it comes through with crystal clarity. Dialog is usually easy to catch, but there are moments, likely intentional, where soft-spoken dialog gets a little lost. Fortunately there are close captioned options if you feel you missed something important. There’s not a lot of sub action with almost all of the film happening in front.
This 2-disc release of There Will Be Blood offers the film the first disc with all of the extras on disc 2. I should say something here about the packaging for this set. The discs slide into cardboard pockets in a very thin cardboard case. The discs are held tightly and it is impossible to remove them without at the very least planting a thumbprint on the disc and at worst scratching the surface. The design might be attractive, but it was very poorly thought out. You might want to store the discs in another box if you intend to keep them pristine.
15 Minutes: As the title suggests, this feature runs a tad over 15 minutes. It is a montage of clips and stills from the film and production stills. There is music but no narration of any kind.
Deleted Scenes: There are 2. Neither will add anything significant. One is more Plainville/HW while the second explores the religious conflict a bit.
Dailies Gone Wild: This is actually an extended scene of Daniel verbally accosting the oilmen at the restaurant. I’m not sure I understand the title.
The Story Of Petroleum: This is an old documentary made in the 1920’s by The Sinclair Oil as a promotional piece, likely shown in theatres. It shows the procedures of the time in extracting oil.
2 Trailers finish the extras list.
As a history teacher I have read a lot of Upton Sinclair’s works. This was not one of them, so I’m not sure how it would compare. I can tell you that the style of Sinclair is absolutely captured here. At times you might get the impression that he overdoes the idea that