Daniel Day-Lewis won ‘Best Actor’ Oscar and several other major film awards for his 2007 portrayal of Daniel Plainview, a silver miner turned oil prospector in 1910s America. It is true that his performance is stunning; it was the main reason that we sought out ‘There will be Blood‘ on Netflix – who am I to argue with the critics?
Paul Sunday knows there is oil on his land, and Plainview offers him a price. But Paul’s twin, Eli, holds out for the $5,000 he knows the farm and its land to be worth. Plainview starts drilling, promising the local people that the profits from oil will bring schools, bread, and opportunity to the area, which will thrive as a result of its new-found wealth. Plainview doesn’t deliver on his promises, which brings him into conflict with Eli Sunday, a religious zealot. Over time, Plainview gets richer, his ruthlessness is unchecked until he is eventually alienated from all those around him, including his adopted son. He sinks into alcoholism and the film ends following a confrontation between him and Eli.
This is a man’s world; women make virtually no appearance at all other than as subservients. There are precious few splashes of colour, the landscape is desolate and unforgiving. It’s all about the oil and the money. There isn’t just blood, there is also dirt and grime, swearing, men getting squashed under machinery, fighting and fire. Oh, and also murder and alcoholism, fanaticism and humiliation. This is a bloody, horrible film. Actually, to be honest, it’s just a bloody horrible film.