177 comments on “A Critical Analysis of There Will Be Blood: Intensional Godhood

  1. Anonymous writes:

    I didn't read the above. Just want anyone else to know that this movie is trash.
    With two good hours and a half hour of, uuhhh, where do we go now?
    Laughable, anticlimactic ending. "Let's jump ahead 20 years and then, yeah, violence!"
    Wasted a great (as always) performance by Lewis.
    -KJ

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  2. Andrea writes:

    Some people should just go see Rambo. This movie requires some thinking, if you are not willing to do that, go see Alvin and the Chipmunks you dumbfuck.

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  3. Anonymous writes:

    I have a few different names for this movie:

    There will be Mustaches

    There will be long Uncomfortable Pauses

    There will be Millions of Sub Plots that have little to do with the story

    There will be no dialog for the first 20 minutes

    other than those titles I really liked this movie, however it had no spine to base the movie around. Essentially there was no reason for the movie. I am going to piss a lot of movie purists out there who think they are so much smartier than the rest of the world…… No Country for Old Men is 80 million billion times better than this movie. There is an example of a main story, but not being fully limited. IT told its story and the characters responses and ended. The was no opening and no closure to anything in this move. It was like we watched the middle of a larger movie with 40 minutes missing from the beginning and the end. There is Cinema, Film and art. This is film, and film is supposed to have a story structure.

    also, Go Fuck Yourself Andrea and all of your elitist friends.

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  4. irina writes:

    people, we see the world with different eyes, and it is ok. stop trying to tell others what to think and feel and like. for some this movie is crap, for others it is a masterpiece. no one is trying to change your view. respect others' perspective and yours shall be respected in return.

    there is no "right" interpretation of things.

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  5. z writes:

    in the words of bill walton, if everyone thinks the same, nobody thinks. a true work of art isn't about a message or moral, the best art evokes some sort of emotion and alters your perception of the world around you. like this film or hate it, it's hard to argue that it achieves this goal.

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  6. Anonymous writes:

    I liked your analysis, he was a very lonely man and the movie did a good job of showing that.

    and your right there are a whole bunch of other things to look at.
    wish i knew the story of the bible better, lots of allusions to it.

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  7. Anonymous writes:

    "in the words of bill walton, if everyone thinks the same, nobody thinks"

    well that is one of the more logically incorrect things I have heard today. The correct way to phrase it is "It everyone thinks the same then there is no dissimilar thoughts."

    I like how some people pull moronic quotes out of nowhere and phrase it as it is some reflection of their own intelligence.

    also this review was awesome.

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  8. I thought this critical analysis was enlightening and brilliant.

    I felt the same things walking out of the theatre and later on in the night but I'm sure I couldn't have articulated it as well!! I was even thinking to myself, "I wish I knew more about the bible and bible names! I know "Paul" "Daniel" and others meant something important."

    I would love to pick your brain more about this movie!!

    There seems to be discussion of if Eli and Paul were one person or two. At first I thought it was just one person and "Paul" was just very smart. Then "Eli" brought up Paul front of the family so I thought…ok, they really are twins? Does anyone have any ideas on that?

    Also, what do you think the significances were when H.W. lit the fire to Henry's bed? Was this just a warning his "father" because he had looked through his diary and realized he was a phony? Or was there something else I missed?

    And finally, the last line in the movie. "I'm finished." Is this saying that his quest for blood is over? He is announcing there will be no more blood (of course, violence related, because he killed Eli) but also that there will be no more family to find? No more people around him? He's killed his impostor brother, he's run off his foster child and now his longest, and dearest friend?

    Anyway, I just loved this movie. The more I think about it the more I love it even more. This review has made my mind explode!!

    So thank you!
    Erica Rupp

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  9. @Erica Rupp

    Thanks for the comments!

    1. Regarding Eli vs. Paul, I think you can see what you want in it (Cain vs. Abel?) but in reality it's probably nothing more a story-telling flaw. PTA has said that it was simply a case of getting Dano to play both when they originally had another actor slated. In other words, mostly trivial.

    2. I haven't thought about the fire much, and I would need to watch the movie again for evidence, but I suspect the fire is metaphorically related to the fire that ignited at the oil well. H.W. tried to set Henry's bed on fire probably to warn his father he was a phony, not being able to communicate well anymore. The fire at the oilwell happened when H.W. lost his hearing. I leave you to interpret.

    3. Thank you for pointing out an important part of my essay that I forgot to include! That final comment "I'm finished" is one of the most important supports for my argument above, and I've added it back in. In short, this goes back to Plainview's belief in the power of speech, thinking he can "end" the story with those words.

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  10. Anonymous2 writes:

    1. I thought Eli and Paul were the same person. To me, Paul's (Eli's) initial visit to Daniel to tell him about his oil, represented Eli's greed – both for money and for new members of his congregation. Supporting this is the scene when Daniel and H.W. first visited the ranch "quail hunting". They exchanged a suspicious (albeit ambiguous) look upon their introduction to Eli.

    This can obviously be interpreted a number of ways, but I think Eli and Paul being the same person gives the character of Eli a little more depth.

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  11. Anonymous writes:

    please address the clear lack of male – female dynamic in this film and how it's non- appearance makes this clearly biblical. I bet upton sinclair didn't expect this awesome film. It was a joy to watch people leave midway through, the clear sign that it was truly a piece of genius.

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  12. zennn writes:

    As the original poster of the article said, Paul and Eli are twins. They weren't supposed to be. Dano was to be Paul, and Eli was to be played by someone else. Basically, a few weeks before the movie started, PTA decided that Dano should just do both parts, and right them off as twins.

    There is no metaphor or deeper meaning behind Dano playing two different characters.

    With that being said, thank you for writing this. I've been scouring the internet trying to find an interpretation of the film that wasn't "This is the best thing ever because it is, and you have to deal with that."

    I need to see it again, for sure, because your insights into the duality of the overall meaning of the film has really got me thinking again. When I left the first time, I was exhausted– DDL gave one of the best performances I had ever seen, and I was awestruck. Yet I was not convinced of the story. Perhaps I was doomed from the start–I will probably always put this in comparison with No Country for Old Men. I didn't think the story was as solid as NCFOM's, but looking back now, I realized that the story was EVERY BIT as good, but just completely different.

    Thanks for typing this out, I really do appreciate it.

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  13. hallo writes:

    So I went to this movie last night, and as soon as my friends and I got out of the theater, one asked "what was it about?" I slapped him in the face.

    I really liked the similarities between Daniel and Eli: greed, outspoken, broken family bond, self-loathing. It's definitely apparent in the ending though, that their views on what God is, has been detrimental to each of their lives' situations and perceptions of what the other stands for.

    I thoroughly enjoyed your analysis of the movie, and you've convinced me to shell out more money to see it again. Is there some significance of the bowling alley (besides displaying Daniel's wealth)? I though it was kind of ironic he was sleeping, unable to wake up "in the gutter."

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  14. Anonymous writes:

    Thank you for the great analysis, but I was also hoping to read more about the recurring themes of blood, oil, and water. Plainview blesses baby HW with oil, oil is the blood of the earth, Plainview is baptized with water when he's calling out for blood – and he baptizes Eli with blood at the end. In relation to your analysis above, Plainview could be more rich in oil than he is in family, or blood-relation. There's so much to talk about! This film was so amazingly challenging, rich, and complex, I have to see it again.

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  15. @13

    The reason I didn't want to get into the recurring themes of around oil specifically was because I didn't want to draw any more attention to it. There has been a lot of over-interpretation of the importance of oil in the film. I see it as more of a barometer of Plainview's character arc. The richer he becomes, the less you see of it, and the more of his character comes to light.

    Therefore I don't think the oil itself plays a crucial role. PTA probably thought the same, considering the name of the movie against the name of the original book Oil!. In fact, he has mentioned that he hadn't even intended to adapt the book entirely when he started, but wanted to just go off the first few chapters.

    But you are right, there is clearly a tie between blood, oil, and water. I just loathe the ignorance of catchphrases like "blood for oil," so I chose to downplay it and talk about the wealth of non-oil subjects the movie has to offer.

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  16. MattK writes:

    I disagree with the idea that Plainview's life of luxury comes to an end after his slaying of Eli. The butler didn't seemed all that shocked. Do you really think that a butler working in close proximity for a nutjob billionaire would run to the police to turn in his boss? In the early 1900s? Such men in a situation like this would really be "above the law."

    Also, I viewed the line "I'm finished" and the carefree way it is uttered as a sign Plainview's complete detachment from any positive human emotion . He feels no remorse. He brutally kills a man and them simply calls the butler to clean up the mess as if he just finished eating dinner. Just like he spits in HW's face at the end. His own self absorption has led him to the point that everything in the world is below him and not worth caring about.

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  17. @MattK

    While I disagree with your take, I definitely like it. However, I didn't mean to imply that he felt remorse at the end. The "I'm screwed" meaning of the statement is ironic, not an admission, and the "I'm finished doing what I intended" meaning is proof of monumental hubris. It isn't done 'til he says so, so to speak. So we are actually in agreement on his self-absorption.

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  18. tim writes:

    movies, at the least, should be entetaining, and for some that's all they will choose to take from it. analysis is, at the least, a discursive way to give meaning to a film, if that's what you choose to take from it.

    i personally agree with a lot of your analysis, but i think you are missing a lot by overlooking all the ties to the themes and ironies of capitalism.

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  19. Anonymous writes:

    hey, i liked your analysis. for me the film was about greed. there is a strength in greed because it gives rise to a repulsion for weakness. despite how shocking that last scene was. there was something satisfying in seeing weakness crushed.

    worrying, no?

    to all the haters, grow a mind, stop swearing. people aren't moved by volume, they're moved by eloquence.

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  20. @time & @24 & many others

    I've extended my essay with a better explanation for why greed and capitalism are not too important:


    One thing I must address is the misconception that this film is about capitalism. Sure, capitalism exists in the movie, but it's not Plainview's driving motivation. Capitalism's emotional equivalent is human greed, as the word itself means the accumulation of "capital," defined as sanctioned wealth or property. Plainview is not primarily a greedy man. Greedy people choose personal gain over personal values and loved ones. Plainview, however, goes out of his way to choose a more strenuous (and dangerous) long-term gain (with Union) over an easy short-term gain (with Standard Oil), inarguably to prove his worth. He also desperately wants to bring someone he can trust and love into his business, to dominate, but also to share with. These are not consistent actions with simple avarice.

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  21. Anonymous writes:

    that's a good point but it isn't clear that the long term gain is smaller (in capitalism terms) than the 'easy short term gain'. There is many a good capitalist that would have made the deal with Union! As a result I don't think it's 'inarguably' to prove his worth – it could be that he just saw it as a way to achieve even greater future wealth. However the film does not make this clear either way from what i can remember. On your point about wanting to share his bueiness with 'someone he can trust and love' I still don't feel that this is incompatible with greed – after all, there are many megalomaniac, historical figures (perhaps like Henry VIII!) who want heirs only to validate themselves! Personally I feel that his relationship with HW was a combination of greed for a heir and true love. Looking forward to hearing your response!

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  22. Your interpretation is absolutely valid, don't get me wrong when I say that this movie isn't about capitalism that I mean there is no greed in the man. However, it's my opinion that there isn't uncommon greed in him, in other words it isn't a degree of greed that significantly affects his character arc.

    The best thing to do is to look for evidence in the film itself:

    1. Compare how much Plainview speaks of wealth versus how much he speaks of accomplishments (done or to be done).

    2. Ask why Plainview rejected Standard Oil and at what point in the conversation he flew into a rage (it wasn't during the haggling).

    3. Note how Plainview gloats not about the amount of his Union deal later to Tilford, but to the fact that he did what he said he'd do, and how he made a fool of Tilford. He never even mentions if was more or less money.

    4. In general, find his most extreme moments and see if desire for wealth was ever a galvanizing factor.

    You are right in that his love for his boy does not exclude his love of money, and he does want to validate himself, but that validation is exactly my point! Those megalomaniac historical figures needed a much greater motivation than wealth, and many (like your example) were born inherent to it. I'd even say wealth is only a validation to him. Even at his wealthiest point, the film never shows him indulging in the pleasures he possesses besides shooting them, but hunched over his desk mulling ever more achievements. People like him are like Howard Hughes or Warren Buffet, where wealth is just a symptom of their character.

    He doesn't hate people because of his greed, he hates people because of his pride. Conversely, he loves his boy precisely because he applied so much of his effort into him. Recall the last scene where there become estranged, it certainly wasn't over money, regardless of amount.

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  23. Great analysis, I generally agree with it, it really does solidify my assumptions.

    Plainview loves HW. When Plainview tells HW he’s not like him and tells him to blow off, but why did PTA edit in a moment in their lives when they were obviously showing affection for one another? That was apparently a dream that Plainview was having while he was in that drunken stupor in the bowling alley. What was the point to that? I think Plainview definitely felt some heartache in that dream, i don’t know, what do you gather that was all about.

    Another thing, why couldn’t they communicate with a note pad or something? i saw a bunch of ledgers and Plainview always had 2 pens in his shirt pocket.

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  24. Not sure what dream you're referring to, my memory is hazy, but the reason Plainview doesn't just write notes to him is simply because his power is in his voice. He's helpless without it, since HW is deaf. We aren't even sure how literate either of them are.

    But it's not the practicality of it that matters (sure he could write a note), so much as how he stubbornly insists on doing things his way, and that's a recurring theme. The interpreter at the end is very symbolic of the break in communication between them, which ends his "education" of his child, which results in H.W. going down a different path. This is Plainview's punishment, his Babel.

    It is no coincidence that H.W. loses his hearing at the same time Plainview strikes oil.

    Thanks for these comments, I'm going to have to work yet more stuff in to the essay! Very helpful 😀

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  25. I'm talking about the break within scenes from where we see HW getting blown off to where Plainview is passed out in the bowling alley. there is a quick flashback to where HW and Plainview are horsing around affectionately. I don't think that PTA would put that in there to reinforce a sad moment, Anyway, there's some key reason to that. I just can't stop thinking about it. i just saw this movie a few days ago. it's hauntingly real, and i'm just wondering whether i'm on the right track here.

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  26. Nick writes:

    A splendid interpretation of the film and a fascinating read.

    I think it's implied that H.W. is illiterate when he picks up the journal. Isn't he trying to read it upside down?

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  27. Benjamin writes:

    I thought H.W. was a twist of the name George H.W. Bush, and you can take that thread and go practically anywhere with it!

    The Bushes being oilmen, father-son hatred, but the father-son here is reversed, and you can easily argue the depravity of the Plainview Sr is like that of Bush Jr, and on and on….
    I don't think that this is a necessarily a serious thread in the mind of the screenwriter, just allows another interesting layer, an indictment of the age, the one 100 years ago and this one now.

    It's more interesting that the YHWY="He is" interpretation.

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  28. @Benjamin

    I really don't think that is the case, and even the YHWY interpretation I made is admittedly a stretch. If anything, Bush is a Christian soldier to a fault, hopeless addicted to those ideals and enforcing them against the muslim "fascists." I see no connection there to TWBB, and the "depravity" you see is highly subjective, but even then completely unrelated to Plainview's fatal flaws. Bush does not hate his father, is highly religious, and doesn't like getting his hands dirty. Plainview is more likely a democrat than a zealot.

    On another note, the Bushes are not really the oilmen that the media has built them up to be. Fact is, they made modest amounts of money doing it, and GW made virtually nothing, needing several bail-out investors (not the public, but private funds from friends). He made his fortune investing in the Texas Rangers… netting him only about $15 million by the turn of the century. At best, he's doubled it by now.

    Only $30 million? Isn't that corrupt and rich? I suggest you take a peep at the public tax documents of the various democrats in the public eye. They're hardly poor either… esp. John Kerry, who probably spends Bush's net worth on his home entertainment center.

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  29. Anonymous writes:

    od read about a good movie, thanks.

    There are two moments in the movie that stand out from the very realistic approach in the movie:

    1. Plainviews first attack on Eli comes totally unexpected and, to me, seemed out of character for the self-controlled Plainview that we had known until then.

    2. When H.W. starts the fire.

    These moments (especially the first) both annoyed and fascinated me. Annoyed me because they pulled me out my being sucked into the realism of the story and atmosphere, and fascinated me, well because a good twist to a story is always thought provoking… but i'm not quite sure that these are good twists.

    Does anyone have good explanations as to why these incidents occur the way that they do – totally out of the blue with no prior building up of the characters that would justify the "appropriateness" of such erratic behavior.

    Plainveiw does "crazier" stuff at the end of the movie, but that is much more justafiable and in line with the development of the character and story.

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  30. Anonymous writes:

    Watching this movie was like watching concrete dry on a wet and cloudy afternoon.

    The whole "twin thing" seemed last minute and poorly done.

    The story could have been told in an hour, just as effectively, but droned on like a self-absorbed illuminate thoroughly enraptured by his own voice and holding the audience hostage while he revelled in his own ability to grasp the deeper meaning of things.

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  31. Daniel writes:

    Great review and comments.

    HW lighting the fire to me was a cry for attention and love from Plainview especially since he was now competing with a "brother".

    The way Plainview treated HW from the very beginning of the film was not exactly the model of a nuturing parent. The fact that Plainview let HW watch the drilling from a dangerous place is evidence of the lack of concern on Plainview's part. The mixing of whiskey with milk was more evidence of this.

    I think the fact that HW lost his hearing is in part symbolic of his self preservation from Plainview and that he had to find his own way. The fact that HW wanted to go into the oil business himself showed that even to the very end he wanted to be loved by Plainview, but of course Plainview would not accept the "competition".

    There is much more to say about this movie.

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  32. Anonymous writes:

    Bush's greatest fault is his complete inability of introspection… That is Cheney's, and Condi's, and Rumsfeld's… That and the fact that he's a complete f*cking dunce who has way too many people's hands up his ass in the White House.

    I, too, thought there was a definite metaphor for the two sides (religious and the staunch, economic, Ayn Rand conservatives, oh and the morons who are in the working class and still vote for these assholes) of the conservative GOP movement in America.

    Also, if you ever listen to Warren Buffet, he's one of the most down-to-Earth and honest individuals. He'll openly admit that he thinks people who have plenty should give to those who have none. He's a man that measures himself on achievement, not unlike Plainview, but also seems to have a very grounded sense of community and, dare I say this in America!, working together to make sure everyone who's honest and hard working can have a decent life! With all those lavishes like basic health care and a home to call their own…

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  33. Anonymous writes:

    Fascinating analysis by all.

    I have to agree that The Will Be Blood has little to do with capitalism and is far more elementally based on the themes of inner turmoil and contradiction within all of us.

    In my opinion the most powerful component of this film was the way in which the symbolic duality between these intertwined characters was staged.

    I saw Daniel and Eli as manifestations of the same personality. Very much in the same way Kurtz is the embodiment of Marlow's hidden dark shadow in Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

    Eli IS the evil, self-loathing, brutality, and hatred within him. And I saw the final scene in which Daniel confronts and kills him as the acceptance and then resolution to his inner turmoil. By proclaiming, "It's Over", has he in essence exorcised the demon within?

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  34. David, Sweden writes:

    Great analysis – I will probably re-read it. I was very happy to read an article focusing on what I think is one of the main themes of the movie: lonlieness. I would never say that people finding "capitalism commentary" in it are wrong, 'cos it's certainly there, but I just don't find it equally interesting as the aspects of lonlieness, and to some extent, religion. To me, Daniel almost is the personification of lonlieness taken to extremes – his violent and misanthropic behaviour is, to me, the natual outcome of someone who is both physically and mentally lonely. How wonderfully the cinematography illustrates this, and what a great movie TWBB is. Thanks.

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  35. Barb writes:

    #1 A comment from s8nznme referred to the dream/flashback scene after Plainview tells HW he’s not like him…s8nznme says it's "a moment in their lives when they were obviously showing affection for one another." However, if you look closer at the flashback, you'll see HW being playfully loved by Plainview, and then suddenly physically pushed away while HW has a questioning/upset look on his face. I thought this was a flashback by HW as he re-lived the times his dad did a love/hate thing on him, and that he was finally understanding it now that he knows he's not Daniel's son.

    #2 Re. Plainview's last words: "I'm finished." That brought to mind Christ's last words on the cross: "It is finished." (John 19:28-30).

    #3 What did it mean when Plainview asked before visiting Bandy house how many people lived there, and I think he also asked how big it was, and then when visiting looked in the window with a kind of "uh-huh" look? Sorry, but such details keep bugging me when I can't understand them.

    #4 Also is it possible that HW saw something in the diary that revealed that Plainview had no children and that's why he started fire?

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  36. Thank you Barb, your comment #2 just confirms for me Plainview's arrogance.

    I really want to answer your other questions but I've only watched the movie once and don't feel my memory is qualified. What you should ask about #3 is what HW was trying to communicate with the fire (particularly what he was trying to tell Plainview).

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  37. Sluggo writes:

    Thanks for such a delightful analysis. It articulates and clarifies a lot of things that I only had vague feelings about as I was watching the movie.

    re: the dream / flashback scene — It seemed pretty clear to me that in the two scenes, the moment that Plainview relaizes that HW is acting in an other-than-submissive manner towards him (taunting him with the hat), he lashes out — at the end of the first scene and in the second scene, Plainview manhandles HW rather roughly, and he then stomps off to his derrick, leaving an upset HW to look on afterwards.

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  38. Anonymous writes:

    Good read, but I respectfully disagree about the ending, and about the "I'm Finished" portion.

    I took it as he has finally distanced himself from everyone, like he said he would. He had gotten rid, for lack of a better word, of his 'son,' and had finally broken the last tie with, for the most part, the last person – Eli.

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  39. LARS writes:

    I was also immensely intrigued by this film, and I really enjoyed your anlaysis and the many points and interpretations made by other writers on this thread.

    I am a bit surprised however no-one mentioning the religious overtones and strong parallell this story has to the old testament story of Lucifer, and his downfall.

    I am not saying that this allegorical interpretation is the one and only explanation, but I see it as an important aspect, connotation, also contributing hugely to the powerful effect this film has.

    Like Lucifer Daniel Planview want's to be great, God's equal. He want's to have it all. While Lucifer was an angel wanting to be god, Plainveiw is a man wanting to be god. They both however end up being punished by god, becoming litteraly devils, because of not submitting, kneeling to god, letting go of their riot, rage, and pride.

    They are hence punished for their hybris, arrogance, greed, selfishness and different sins of all kinds. At the end of the film Plainview realises what a devil he is, thats why its finished, no salvation, he is without love – absobed with hate and the hell that he is in. Because he ends it all when he takes the bitter and bloody revenge on gods own messenger. There will be blood also refers to his one doom and following punishment in hell.

    Remember the essential and deciding pivotal point midway through the film where Eli asks Plainview to arrange it so that he Eli can bless the oil-well. Up to this point God has made luck and fortune go Plainviews way.

    Plainview however now chooses (for a mysterious reason – though it is in his nature) to defy this wish, instead he makes the sister girl Mary (the one and only important female in this film, maybe so the symbol of sin, Eva and the apple) do this and therefore he offends god (through his messenger Eli). The punishment also follows naturally straight there after, first the death of some of his workers, and then the deafening of his son. But then again instead of accepting the might of god, and for example falling to his knees, submitting, begging for foregiveness, supporting the church, taking care of his son, Plainview continues a riot against god, he is even hitting, taunting and humiliating his messenger, and thereby losing himself even more.

    In this film Eli is moreover the instrument of god to test Plainview. A test Plainview fails, because he simply doesnt choose the right things to do, he doesnt elevate himself from the lower motivational centres within him to see the bigger picture. He says he doesnt like to explain himself, he doesnt find connection among others, he's too ambitious, too competetive, to selfcentered.

    The Eli – Paul duality and the alcholism of Eli towards the end, may show that he is also only a human, and tested by god, but mailny it underlines the point of being there to test Plainview.

    As I saw the film I was a bit annoyed at one point because the film seems to enhance and strengthen christian myths and the old testament god-concept, and what I see as "misconseptions" concerning male-female.

    Because I am not for a dogmatic, fundamentalist religious worldview, and when artistic expressions tend to solidify such religious beliefs I have a resistance towards it.

    However more than because of religious overtones the the film is intriguing and great because of what it says about human character, and the psycology of evil and bad behavior. Much is to be learned from it.

    Lars

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  40. Interesting take Lars. While there are certainly many parallels, I have to point out two things that make this very different from Lucifer's story:

    1. The story of Lucifer, the light bringer, the morning star, as his name implies, was about a fall from grace, primarily because of envy and pride. Plainview, while proud, isn't nearly as envious of a greater being. In his mind, he is the greatest being. There is no conflict between him and God.

    2. If you expect Eli to represent God, then like Lucifer's story, he should be a better man, and ultimately the one who punishes Plainview. This is not the case. Eli is flawed, false prophet, and Plainview's punishment comes from his own doing (or arguably the machinations of the real God).

    If Eli is, as you say, an "instrument of God" sent to test Plainview, then that is clearly the story of Adam and Eve, where their failure of God's test led them to Original Sin.

    Now, you may be asking why the distinction? Aren't they both stories about a fall from grace? Well, there is a huge difference between Lucifer and Adam. Lucifer was cast out by God (unfavored) for trying to be better. Adam was punished with original sin for disobeying God's will.

    In the movie, there was no direct God "nemesis" for Plainview to contest with, nor any to cast him from heaven (Plainview is never in heaven, he is on the dirty, harsh Earth the whole time, literally). There is no evidence that Plainview thinks himself better than God, only better than his fellow man. In other words, he believes he *is* God. I don't see much evidence for Plainview realizing he is the Devil, as he stays arrogant and unrepentant to the very end.

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  41. pockets writes:

    this might actually be one of the best movies ive ever seen and am really happy with your review. i too was looking around to read other people's thoughts on this flick and i came across yours. i agree with a lot of what you've said…there are so many dynamics to this film its amazing. i watched it twice and i caught so many things i missed on the first viewing. i recommend a second viewing to everyone who watched there will be blood.

    in the first half of the film, i loved the dynamic between Eli being the crooked preacher and Daniel being the somewhat crooked oilman. but as the movie progresses and as Danial encounters more and more people, you realize theres more to the story than just his relationship with eli. when i watched it a second time, i realized in the beginning, at the dinner table for the first time Eli comes off as just a sweet kid who wants money donated to his church. But the scene where he gives that exorcism to the old woman leaves both Danial and the viewer with the exact same thought: "what the hell?!" i found that amusing.

    and i have to disagree with people writing Danial off as some evil guy. i dont think hes evil at all, and he only punishes those who have done something wrong to begin with. altho he goes farther in his punishments than anyone else would, theres still a reason for it (killing the imposter brother, screaming at the oilman who told him to take care of his son, Eli at the end of the movie). his flaws come with his competitive nature, to the point where he would "abandon" his child (lol sorry for the cliche).

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  42. cloud96 writes:

    Great analysis noisewar. That along with all of the comments immensely helped in my understanding of the movie.

    There are some things that still don't connect for me though.

    I keep feeling there may be another meaning still to the title "There Will Be Blood". While watching the movie I thought I grasped the meaning when Plainview is baptized. The word blood is repeated over and over here, but in the context that the blood and sacrifice of Jesus will atone for your sins. It seemed like the director was really trying to ram this message home. So I'm sitting there thinking in the end Plainview (and I guess Eli) will either find forgiveness/repentance for their sins. Obviously this did not happen as the movie did not have the typical Hollywood style happy ending. At first I thought the message was 'The rich always win and get away with everthing in the end and God is a lie', but the more I think about it the more I think there is still something to this. They were not forgiven by God but instead received God's judgment/wrath. Even though Plainview doesn't die, his life is a total mess despite his wealth.

    Second, you said earlier it was not about greed, but his acheivements that motivated him. But what about the part where he ditches H.W. who is in trouble in favor of the other emergency, his oil derrick that is on fire? Wouldn't he consider the potential of his H.W. to carry on his name to be a greater achievement? To me this screams Plainview is greedy, choosing the emergency of losing wealth over the emergency of his sons health.

    I don't get the part about why he doesn't let Eli bless the well. He seems to not really care too much about Eli's requests and seems to consider them petty and worth doing if it means he gets his way (like when he says 'Sure, I'll build the road to the church. It's the first thing I'll do!' Why not now? Does he figure at this point he got his way and he isn't going to do one more thing to please the 'false prophet'? Or does he think Eli is up to something, and sees Eli as a potential form of competition and doesn't want to give him the chance to succeed?

    Somebody wrote that the attack on Eli came totally out of the blue. I don't think it really did though. Couldn't you see him faking all the religious talk? You could tell Eli was pissing him off. It seemed to bother him that the father beat the little girl for not praying. That seemed to have something to do with it. Also he seemed to be looking for a way to take out the frustration of what happened to HW on somebody.

    I'm convinced that people who apparently hate this movie with a passion are just pissed off that there isn't a happy ending. Anyway, thanks again. I have to watch it again now.

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  43. @cloud69

    I don't remember him ditching H.W., I thought the first thing he did was get H.W. to safety before he returned to tend to the fire. Refresh my memory on that.

    Plainview doesn't let Eli bless the well because he knows Eli is fake, and that he himself should and will be the real provider for the county, which he does. I don't even think he really cares all that much about what Eli thinks, he merely takes a good idea Eli had for his own use. He has a strong dislike for phony people, which he insinuates strongly in the film (recall his statements about what other oil men would promise to do).

    The reason he killed Eli, in my opinion, is two fold. First, Eli was an affront to his "godhood;" in Plainview's opinion he was a false prophet. Plainview screams (right before killing Eli) "Did you think your song and dance and your superstition would help you, Eli? I am the Third Revelation! I am who the Lord has chosen!"

    The second reason he kills Eli is because someone he hates so much is now family, which Eli became when H.W. married his sister. The announcement that they are brother-in-laws is a devastating blow to Plainview, who feels he should chose who is part of him and who isn't. This happens right after losing H.W. as his last bit of family, and Plainview can't accept that his only remedy in loneliness lies in Eli.

    Hope that helps.

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  44. If one ever worked in the Oil Industry especially in Upper Management and understood the history reported and recorded differs from the history of the reality of its creation, well you have the best understanding of Upton Sinclair views and purpose for the book.

    Daniel Day Lewis captures in totality both the burdens and benefits of becoming something different, as one attempts to bring in a new way of living for all on a brighter side by the seeking the power to overcome the darkness of the few that thought it was important to do so in giving meaning to their limited lives.

    This is all I can say for now, but the film hits home in ways few people outside the Oil Industry can fathom, including Sinclair himself. Upton drilled the novel all over the place but never hit the mother lode, and if he did, the book would have never been published!

    Oil wins is my point and will always win!

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  45. Anonymous writes:

    Such an awesome analysis! and many other commentaries were good too. Thanks, all.

    I concur, DDL was exceptional in this film. He is one of the VERY rare actors who completely disappears in a role. That requires an ability to surrender one's self centered ego consciousness, which is the mark of a mature soul. He's amazing to watch.

    Also, I noticed a continuity between the way people died in this film-all from head trauma. I felt that this leads to suggesting the over identification with the head/intellect, and abandonment of the heart's wisdom. our lead character is all head-no heart at all. Or left brained, one might say, perhaps.

    Also, I agree with the poster regarding comparing this film to No Country-completely different story, theme, setting, and the cinematography was poetically necessary for this film. Totally different animal than NCFOM. Thanks all for sharing!

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  46. Theresa writes:

    also, about the oil and blood theme, Rudolph Steiner (Austrian spiritual scientist and philosopher) said that oil was the blood of Mother Earth. Obviously, drilling and bleeding her dry are symbolic of our own suicidal tendencies. To me, the greed for oil, given the ramifications of it's harvesting, refining and consuming have on the environment that we all live in, it IS a suidical jaggernaut, and the self hatred that compels Daniel's obsessive competitiveness is evident in this larger interpretive scope.

    I also noticed his tenderness toward the little girl who was beaten by her father if she didn't pray, and his tenderness toward HW, who was orphaned. I sensed here a reference, perhaps, to abuse and abandonment in Daniel's past as well. Just more thoughts…

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  47. Anonymous writes:

    I'd have to say that some of the themes you dismiss as "peripheral" are the very heart of this film. A key moment in the film is Plainview's assertion, "I am the Third Revelation." You might take some time to consider exactly what this means in terms of the nature of the (revealed) character making the statement, the specific time in our history in which it was placed, and the modern-day implications. The whole lit-crit thing can be fun sometimes, but all too often it will tend, like a dog, to become enamored of the finger rather than that to which it points.

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  48. "I'd have to say that some of the themes you dismiss as "peripheral" are the very heart of this film."

    You are right, and I didn't mean to trivialize those issues. What I meant by "peripheral" is that they are symptoms by which to understand the core motivation of Plainview, which I argue is divine loneliness.

    The Third Revelation is the return of God's chosen (Jesus) that was supposed to happen in the middle of the 20th century. You could interpret Plainview's statement, having not seen the deliverance of the Third Revelation, as either his belief in his own surrogate godhood (he thinks he's God's chosen), or as a statement of the world's despair that there will not be a Third Revelation (the story ends mid-late 20th century) only his manmade powers.

    I'm not sure what finger I'm enamored with, but I'm open to your suggestions as to what modern-day implications this has. Personally, I don't see any. This is about Plainview, not modern politics, even if they resonate in his character.

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  49. Jon writes:

    One specific question…

    What, if anything, did you find significant of HW's comment's upon being pulled from the oil fire "I can't hear MY voice." I found that odd for a few reasons, and was curious why you think he referred to his own voice without every mentioning his inability to hear his father's – or anyone else's – voice. And what effect did that REVELATION have on him? Thanks a lot.

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  50. I didn't remember that (but I'll be picking up the DVD soon so that I can watch it again finally), but I find it incredibly interesting that that is what HW said. It shows that Plainview's voice is not all-powerful over him. HW thinks of his voice as individuality, and like Plainview also thinks of his voice as "power." I'm talking of course about power in the sense that the voice is what enables us to achieve.

    However, by the end of the movie, we find that HW did not need his own voice to be "powerful." He uses a surrogate voice (the interpreter) and instead speaks through his actions (building his own business). You might even want to risk reading too deeply and say that sign language is literally speaking through actions. And this tells me that HW does not have his father's flaw.

    I said Plainview has intensional godhood, and one of his mistakes is he confuses speaking like God with being God. "Let there be Light!" But God is God because of what he does, not simply what He says. I don't want to push the theories any farther, but I will just point out that the contrast here is very interesting. Of course Plainview was a doer too, but the question here is how much importance he placed in words as well.

    As for the HW and Revelation, I haven't thought about it, and I'll have to watch the movie again first.

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  51. miked9022 writes:

    I just wanted to say that everyone's analyses have been very impressive, and I was particularly impressed with an Anonymous's link between head-trauma in the film (all deaths) and DDL's lack of association with his heart and emotions.

    Concerning the "I'm finished" ending comment–
    I think it's important to note that he says "I'm finished" rather than "I've succeeded" because, in reference to his failings of carrying on his "blood" and having a son that could carry on his God-figure as a Jesus by HW's losing his voice, "finished" connotes failure and self-defeat, Daniel's recognition of his now permanent lonliness and his loss against the world he has tried so deeply to overcome and done so only viscerally. "I'm finished" is his proclamation of having been outdone by fate.

    Speaking of which, anyone want to dabble in the role of fate in the movie?

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  52. I think this film is about family,love and loneliness much more than greed and religion.

    I couldn't sleep after watching it the first time and I've been putting it back together in my head ever since.

    After two viewings, I have these questions:

    Where is HW's mother? The question is asked early on, but never answered. There is one lingering close-up on Eli's mother at the Little Boston well and that must be significant as there are no other close-ups of grown women in the rest of the film. What's that about?

    Where are Plainview's parents? We know he had a happy childhood and that his father was alive until recently. Why did he have to leave Kansas?

    Does anyone think HW might be Plainview's real son? The man at the first mine might just have been holding the baby, and Plainview's "bastard in a basket" jibe the reaction of a man who is this time being abandoned. Or is one theme of the film "There will NOT be blood" as Plainview divests himself of all family ties, the better to savour his loneliness?

    DM, London

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  53. Anonymous writes:

    i come from another country with many similarities and in the same time many differences from usa,greece, and i'd like to say that in my eyes the film is an interpretation of the bad sides of the american soul as new western films show it also. greed above all for power. power to make things and manipulate people. the man of oil wants oil,money and to subordinate people,the case of the usa foreign policy nowadays.the man of religion wants to accept him as a healer, a provider of divine power, in order to manipulate peoples' mind as many fundamentalists of any religion do.there is a conflict between them but in depth they are the same, the bad side of human psyche. capitalism should be more based on values. it isn't and maybe in never be.religion would be more love centred.it isn't.it's another way to fulfill man's greed for power.excuse my poor english, i speak only greek and have a basic knowledge of english.

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  54. Anonymous writes:

    I felt that the "I'm finished" at the end of the movie was Daniel's declaration that he had beat all of his competition and Eli was the last competitor to be beaten.

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  55. Kebman writes:

    Easily the best film I've seen in a long while. As for all the people that didn't like it, well, this isn't mere entertainment. If you don't understand it – hehe – well, you probably can't understand it on the level it was meant to be understood. Go see a light comedy, or something. That'll keep you entertained.

    As for me, no, I didn't fully understand it either, but it did captivate me. It got me to try to unravel the mysteries and the symbolism of the movie. Thus I'm very thankfull for this analysis. 🙂 It has shed light on many a thing.

    I think it is more than a coinsidence that it reflects so well on the situation of needing oil to fuel the nation (USA), and that it one level indeed can be looked upon as an allegory to the current oil fueled (and thus flammable) situation and of the world where the USA is trying to create "stability".

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  56. Anonymous writes:

    Very insightful analysis, thank you. 😉 It's nice to read such a confident, cogent, and thorough analysis. And I agree with much if not all of your argument. I especially appreciate the explication of the four meanings of the film's title. Good stuff.

    As to the people writing that this film is crap. Wow. Everyone has their opinions, and bless each of them on their way, but frankly yours are retarded. Sorry about your luck. Get well soon. 😉

    What struck me early and often in this, my first viewing, was how masterfully emotions, epiphanies, misunderstandings, etc. were shown subtextually rather than told expositionally. (Some people will no doubt say I am pretentiously over-thinking or whatnot, but let's recall that they are retarded and move on.) One example: H.W. becomes deaf, and Daniel apparently think that by speaking louder and with more emphasis, his son might comprehend him. Daniel is not even willing to invest the care and energy to better communicate with his son and comfort him for his lost hearing. It's only shame and pride that motivate him to care for him at all, once he ceases to be convenient and beneficial.

    This is a movie of unmistakable literary depth and subtlety, even in its coarsest moments. Comparable in caliber to the best written works by James Joyce or William Faulkner, or such hauntingly symbolic films such The English Patient or The Sheltering Sky.

    You gotta love great art. 🙂 Peace to all.

    Obama 08! 😉

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  57. UK 4eva writes:

    stupid americans, just give 'em paris hilton like movies and they'll come at them like pigs in mud. btw lewis is british hence his acting abilities.
    i'm not saying that every1 should like the movie, but i do laugh at those with such comments as "fuck the movie and it's 20mins without speaking, wtf was that?!" or "no plot, no character development" – are u insane or just blind, no wait, you're another american giving a bad reputation to decent americans….
    there will be blood 10/10!

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  58. wood writes:

    i saw his relationship with h.w. strictly as a business. daniel's partner (h.w.'s father) is killed, and daniel keeps the child as a continuation of that partnership; e.g. gives the baby whiskey in a consummation of a new partnership, and introduces him as son, and partner. the role of son was a ruse, or canard and was known by his early competitors. this is why he went into rage when h.w. tells daniel of his plans to start drilling in mexico, on his own. his partner was now competition.

    title refers to his longing for biological kin. probably male. he was estranged from his sister if i'm not mistaken, and was excited at the prospect that henry could be his brother.

    going to watch it again tonight. love this film.

    great analysis. thanks for writing it.

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  59. Anonymous writes:

    i came across this while writing a paper for my film class and i absolutely love your analysis. sadly, it doesnt help me at all and i do not have time to read every comment underneath. i loved this movie for the moment it started up. i immediately thought of kubrick and was sad until i learned it was mostly johnny greenwood. anyways most of what you said i thought too just wasnt able to put it as clearly. just really, great analysis. i have to go write my paper before i fall asleep. 🙂

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  60. Joe writes:

    I enjoyed reading your analysis. I've seen that many people mentioned No Country for Old Men when commenting on your essay. Maybe this is because deterministically (does this word exist?? hehe) Daniel is a strong being. I mean, according to survival and adaptation (Darwin) he is "better" than others – as emphasized in the initial scene where he breaks his leg and is able to coldly deal with the situation and ultimately surviving. I think that, like in No Country for Old Men, these survivor instincts and the competition over power extend the physical and intellectual, reaching the emotional. The result is that there is emotional loss (at first arrogance and self-absorption, then loneliness). An example that the instinct is present in Daniel's view of life is in his fight with Eli, where he says something like "did you think you could get somewhere with you whoo-whoo dances? You lost. Your brother was the smarter [and thus the "winner"]." he also implied he was the winner. Well, I guess both movies deal with the subject in similar ways.
    What do you think? I'm interested in what you have to say.

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  61. Thanks for all the comments guys, I'm happy to see so many people discover this excellent movie, particularly because so many expected more of the same from PTA, and I think this is a brave direction for him.

    @miked9022:
    I think the Christian concept of Fate is tied to the whole salvation or damnation theme, and in the story, it is "fated" for Plainview that his attempt to surplant God and carve his own destiny led to his ruin. This is in contrast to say the Greek concept of fate where an individual's flaws will always lead to the same outcome. In this story, it's Plainview's success in building the life he wants that leads to a fated Christian end. Great irony 🙂

    @Joe:
    There are some similarities to No Country For Old Men, but I think they are really different films. I see what you mean about survival and winning, but Plainview is going beyond survival. He's trying to win because of ego, not necessity.

    NCFOM on the other hand is really a classic man vs. evil story. The villain is a force, barely human, and frightening because we don't understand his motivations. The protagonist is everyman who is dealt a large hand of luck and danger, and has to make choices between survival and "living" (there's a difference). It is predictable that in the end, he loses because he made a choice to "live" by trying to save his wife, or rejecting Wells out of dignity/trust.

    The villain on the other hand has no such limitations. He makes his decisions based on a coin, at whims, and doesn't feel guilt because he subscribes all his actions to fate. Ironically, the movie ends with Chigurh making survival decisions as Llewelyn did- the roles of prey and predator are often unclear.

    Anyways this is a long-winded way of saying that while both have characters of strong survival instincts, I think Plainview's is less primal and more philisophical. The two films deal with very different issues in my opinion, and they don't present similar challenges to their protagonists. I liked both, but I think TWBB is much more food for thought (and detaching), while NCFOM is more emotional "what if it was me"-ish.

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  62. Anonymous writes:

    This synopsis reminds me of a high school essay. Definitely reaching to try to connect the elements of this plot to so many different religious cues. Also, there was nearly no character development or tragic ending and that was the point. He ended up exactly how he wanted by his own volition and his ostensible change was just the surfacing of the same character traits that had been with him from the first scene of the movie. What you think the ominous music and uneasy dialogues/silences were telling the story of an innocent man who became corrupted?

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  63. Anonymous writes:

    godamn there are alot of reviews…

    in my opion there are many ways to explain something…but we all run up opening pandora's box and get a million different answers…it's up to no one to judge or to set a standard to what is right or wrong

    What we expirience is what we set our judgement to and if you dickholes didn't like the movie then shut the up and watch something that crawled up your grandma's hole, shove a script up there, give it fart jokes and call it school

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  64. kenn writes:

    I found myself reacting to this film as I would to a good poem – something inside liked it, but wasn't sure why, and I have had to spend some days thinking it over.
    It did make me want to grab Sinclair's book for a read.
    I was struck by the many biblical allusions in the film. Two of them do not seem to be addressed: the Levitical injunction quoted by John Brown shortly before his hanging on the eve of the Civil War, "without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sins"; and the final words of Jesus from the cross, "It is finished". I may be stretching things, but it seems to me that a good poem often evokes mental and emotional images even the author hadn't thought of. Was there more of a "Jesus evil twin" in Daniel Plainview at second glance?
    I loved the ambiguity of the film. I have found that not too many are comfortable with such.

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  65. Anonymous writes:

    Great analysis, but you guys completely missed why Daniel doesn't let Eli bless the site…It's because he has no respect for the family–he believes Eli is a false prophet and he is disgusted by the fact that Eli's father beats his daughter if she does not pray.

    Also your take on Daniel going with Union instead of the Railroad… He made that choice on pure capitalism. He discusses it with HW when they first go to investigate the territory and thus teaching HW the best way to do the business–maximize profit. Daniel is a great business man. He wanted to cut out ALL the middle men so he could gain pure profit–he did not want to pay the railroad fees. He also discusses taking out the "middle men" when he gives his "promises" speech about him "being an oilman." He elaborates how other oil companies contract out different jobs to their drilling, making the process slower, which it does, but also (what he fails to elabrotae to his future clients) puts more "hands in the pot" so-to-speak. He also pushes away all the competition verbally, and physically by buying up all the land around Eli's ranch. Thus making a monopoly of the land and profit.

    There have been several great ideas however. The oil-water-blood theme was great. And the lonliness is a huge theme in this movie…it smacks you in the face the first 20 minutes! Also Daniel seeing himself as "God," definitely right on.

    Also Daniel doesn't see HW as much of a son, but more of his protege…an extension of himself and his success–not of his heart. He wants to be a good father but he does not know how, whether from a bad childhood (which could definitely be a reason since we learn that there could of a been a chance that Daniel's father had a second life and Daniel didn't even try to defend him and also how he has no trust for others and prefers to be alone) or just from all of his years of being a lone and self reliant. He doesn't allow HW to have a childhood, rather he is forced into a crude business world right away, which of course is no place for a child. This dispalys Daniel's disconnect to a normal childhood/fatherhood. He treats him more as an employee, disreguarding the dangers that are inherent in the oil business and allowing him to be on the oil derreck without his supervision. Daniel thinks if he could it then HW could as well. He's preparing HW how to survive on his own, like he did, but only in the business world (mainly because that is all Daniel knows)–not in regular life. This is made apparent when he gives HW whiskey in his milk. He's teaching him to make himself numb to his problems rather than deal with them, which Daniel displays throughout the movie and is why his problems in his life continue to get worse.

    Oh, and I believe Eli and Paul are one and the same…it may not of been what was intended in the script but it gives the story even more depth into an already neck deep psychological thriller. This movie makes you think and analyze the characters as though they are your patients and you're their therapist.

    I can continue to go on forever about this movie because you can watch it over and over again and discover a different perspective and new questions and answers each time. A pure masterpiece, simply put

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  66. @kenn

    Great points, and I'll make an edit to include the biblical references you pointed out, which are very interesting. Despite being an atheist, I regret not having a better reading of the Bible all the time.

    And the greater point you made was there are can be allusions that even the author is not aware of. I think too many times we dismiss interpretations of film/literature because it's so complex and explanatory that we don't think the director could possibly have contructed such. But I don't think that matters for a well made movie- if a character or story is extremely true to its inspiration, it very well may have achieved that unconsciously. That's simply vindicating of how truthful to motivation and character development it was!

    For example, are we really going to say that every post-9/11 movie is making commentary on that event? If they feel allusive, it could just be that the creators deeply explored the feelings and fears they had from the tragedy, and that manifests even without explicit agenda.

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  67. Anonymous writes:

    very true indeed, how about the fact that Daniel him self was a bastard. He tells H.W. in the end that he was a bastard that came from a basket, but he himself did not have both parents in his life. We know this because his brother, the man who imposes as his brother lets him know that he is his brother from another mother. Daniel must have been raised through a hard childhood, which in turn leads to his lonely life.

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  68. Anonymous writes:

    Lots of good ideas here.
    I agree with some, disagree with others.
    I think "I'm finished" had a trifold meaning:
    1. I'm finished with my dinner.
    2. I'm finished with Eli.
    3. My life as I have known it is effectively finished.

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  69. Anonymous writes:

    I thank you for your analysis, although I understand the movie a little more I still don't like the film. Like "No Country for Old Men" another film I didn't like both movies are symbolic and are not straight forward because I did not care about Plainview's character as a person and is unlikable in much of the movie and on some way while watching the film I was craving for some kind of consequence. Like No Country for old men the guy kills and then somehow gets away with it. Why does a movie have to have people killed whether they have to or not or deserve to be killed for that matter in order to be symbolic. I didn't care about most of characters except the girl HW married and upon watching it I didn't care whatever happens to Plainview. There isn't really one character I really cared about except H.W. and the girl (even though there wasn't too much emphasis)that he married that was towards the end when he wanted to cut ties with Plainview. Even though like "No Country" is symbolically well made both of those movies in an artificial way are unenjoyable films.

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  70. Great, great movie!!! If anyone has the opinion that this movie was "trash" or "boring" then I am sorry for your loss! When you graduate from grade school, watch the movie again, then you'll have the ability to understand a film that wasn't produced by Disney.

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  71. Ronnie the Bear writes:

    It wasn't Daniel at the beginning of the film that rubbed oil on H.W.'s face… It was his own father. So you can omit the "H.W. was baptized by oil" bit altogether.

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  72. Ronnie the Bear writes:

    Reading back, I see it was a commenter that stated the fact about baby H.W. being blessed by oil… Just clearing that up. Also, something I've thought about a little: I think Henry (the imposter) may have killed Daniel's real brother. He made it a point to state that there was no harm done to his brother, nothing bad. He also had the advert for the guns in his journal, yet you never see him with a gun.

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  73. Anonymous writes:

    fantastic analysis. really.

    i have been watching this movie since it came out…unfortunatly, like plainview, i was alone. i have not seen this movie with anyone yet! so thank you for offering this because i was stuck in my own understanding of the film.

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  74. Larry writes:

    Hi
    I just watched this film through a second time. Yes, I agree with your very well done analysis. The preacher is the like Daniel: Lying to the public, out for himself and insincere. In this manner they are alike, but both men oppose each other. Note that the preacher's actions parallel Daniel's (the forced baptism/the forced denial- the greed for the $5K/ the greed for the property acquisitions-the zeal for the church/the zeal for oil-the "brothers" who betray them).
    What I don’t like is the outcome from a story like this. You’ll hear people say, “See, all ‘oilmen’ are greedy-like Bush! All preachers are false, there is no God!” That is the “lesson” that they want you come away with.

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  75. Anonymous writes:

    very impressive analysis. reading this right after watching the movie, definitely made it better for me. although not as good as citizen kane and not as straight forward with the themes, i thought, still worth seeing though all be it relatively unimpressive save for lewis's acting.

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  76. Anonymous writes:

    I'm confused by people comparing this movie with "No Country For Old Men"

    The story of NCFOM goes:

    Guy finds briefcase
    Badass killer is after the money
    Killer chases guy
    There's some fights
    People Die
    The end

    Good job there on the story.

    It was just a common action movie and had no "idea" to it. It's a rehash of about 500 other movies. The "bad guy" had no character development. He was just your generic pissed off bad guy who wants a briefcase and likes to kill people. You had no idea why he was pissed off, what the purpose of his life was, and there was no "screenplay" for the guy. His lines were basically just "i'm gonna kill u"

    That story was 1 inch deep, and people who could compare it with There Will Be Blood or even that average briefcase-killer movie is *better* — likely just have low IQ's.

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  77. Sharon writes:

    I appreciated the analysis. Thought provoking. However, I would like to explore the Eli/Paul thing. I guess I am somewhat confused. I will watch the movie again and probably clear up some of my conflicts. I think Paul/Eli are one in the same person…not twins at all. Eli went to Plainview originally as "Paul" because he didn't want his true identity revealed. It was Paul who gave Daniel all the particulars on how to find the exact location of the Sunday Ranch and only asked for $500. After that initial meeting, you never saw Paul again. You only saw Eli. It was Eli who met Daniel at the ranch and Eli who showed him the way to the oil. It was Eli (not Paul or the Abel, the father) who truly understood the value of the farm and also Eli who saw through Plainview's ruse of wanting the ranch to use for bird hunting. Eli knew Daniel really wanted the oil. And also Eli who actually set the deal up with Plainview. Paul/Eli to me represents the duality of man. Paul, the greedy/power hungry side of man's nature and Eli, the personality who wanted to hide behind religion to mask this greedy nature in order to hide his true motives…which was, after all, money and power. Remember, when Eli wanted to agrandise himself by offering a "blessing" in front of the community in order to be a powerful person in front of the neighbors. Well, Daniel squashed that power play by giving the blessing on the well himself at the dedication. Then in the end of the movie before Plainview murders Eli, he makes him admit his true nature…(i.e. making him say he was a false prophet) while letting him know that he knew all along that Eli/Paul's intentions (power and money) were motivated by greed. Plainview even says something about Paul going on and drilling wells on his own?? So, he viewed him as competition? Or am I wrong about this?? So, Plainview knew all along who Eli/Paul was. I need to see the movie again. Maybe then I will change my mind, but for now I do think that Paul/Eli were one in the same person. I would like to know if anyone else thinks this is a possibility. Also, in closing, I think the last words in the movie…"I'm finished" was meant to show that he had finally defeated all his demons and could finally rest.

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  78. Matt Perth Australia writes:

    Great analysis. I went online looking for insights into this magnificent film and your blog and the responses to it have delivered them in spades. I'm particularly thankful that you and others have linked the film stylistically to Kubrick's work. I knew at the beginning of the film that the unsettled feeling I was experiencing was reminiscent of other films I had seen and having read your analysis it now seems so obvious that it was Kubrick's films I was being reminded of. This film is an out and out masterpiece.

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  79. Anonymous writes:

    This is truly an american masterpiece. Anderson again displays his incredible talent of writing for the screen and directing imaginatively. Like Magnolia, Boogie Nights, and even Punch Drunk Love before it, Anderson continues to truly be an inovating, artistic, and above all a captivating director. Brilliance like this just doesn't come easy. That said I am willing understand why some may not appreciate this film. It is very difficult to comprehend just as Magnolia was.

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  80. Dave writes:

    Andrea, put down your latte and iphone and make me a fucking milkshake. I drink your crappy movie and piss it out! DDL did a fine job acting, but the movie itself was mindless nonsense. Plus, just being on this site mean you had no idea what the fuck the movie was about like everyone else. If you read the book maybe then it makes sense, but to the rest of the world the movie sucked. And please don't say you read the book, cause then you'd just be a lying retard instead of just the plain old retard you currently are precieved to be. Thanks for listening and go fuck yourself. -Dave

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  81. Lydia writes:

    Thanks for the fascinating analysis, and for the comments following it that contributed. My boyfriend and I have spent the last hour talking through our own ideas about it. Though the book is apparently quite different from the movie, I look forward to reading it now, for completely different reasons than I enjoyed TWBB. Now if only someone would make a movie adaptation of "The Jungle." Keep up the great work.

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  82. Oluseyi Dasilva writes:

    I am a Nigerian living in Lagos Nigeria and i was really impresssed by the movie.
    I agree with a few of your dissertations even if i find some of them difficult to understand but here are a few points from an African perspective.

    You might not see any significance in the Eli Paul relationship with the film but consider this, Eli stayed home, Paul ventured out. Eli looked to live on the church congregation and felt he was entitiled to all the largesse that came with Daniels drilling expedition, it is supposedly wrong for a man of God to be so desirious of material things, In my country we have a lot of people masquarading as preachers who take advantage of the peoples faith and need for a higher power.

    Eli fell from Grace with his gambling and other vices in las Vegas, Paul hustled and became a moderately successful oilman ( as confirmed by Daniel) Who was really blessed by The Lord? Which brings me to the point of the african perspective

    while the white people ( Believers or not) took the words of the bible that gave humans dominion over the earth and allowed it guide them as they sought solutions to problems of diesease, transportation, navigation, geography culture etc, they ventured into uncharted waters, climbed forbidden mountain peaks all the while documenting and charting how for those coming behind, Africans generally cowered at the sight of large expanses of water, would rather worship a mountain than climb it, they believed such manifestations of natures abundance depicys the mystery of God hence forbid interrogation and consequently stayed home like eli and sold their brothers to the Daniels that came in serach of many things.
    Evey successfulperson has had to venture over the threshold in their quest for success regaqrdless of their motive ( Natinalism, profit, fame compulsion to compete and win etc)Fortune like they say smiles on the brave.
    Paul took the knowledge he had claimed the Lords grace and moved to seek greener pastures, Eli had a game going with the Church and Daniels coming opened up the possibility of things he only dreamed.
    Witness his words to his father at the dinner table, i found that despicable for a man of God
    witness his willingness to negotiate on Daniles behalf in Land purchase issues
    Witness how he quickly saw the opportunity when Bandy died and he came to see aniel for some money
    Witnes how he declaimed God and his faith for money from Daniel.
    Witness hoe his ego prompted him to jostle for a space in the sun at the blessing of the oil well, ( Vanity and ego)
    For us Pauls move out of the comfort zone truly depicts what faith should be about, the belief that man can do all things he sets his mind to and should . If not we would be waiting around for God to find a cure for H.I.V, a solution to Global warming and other challenges we face in this day and age.
    The word does not require that Man cowers in submission, the word dictates that man go out in the world bravely secure in the knowledge that he is the best that walks the earth and all things are his, all he has to do is set his mind to it.

    Even though Daniel Plainview did not believe in God, he was at once Ayn Rands superman and the old testament scriptural man.

    My only problem with the movie is the total abscece of any female character, there must be a reason though, might it be that Daniel plainview would not be capable of loving a woman how she should be, would he have the time. I mean at some point he must have been makingmoney but he still slept nthe cold hard floor. If he was greedy i daresay it was not for money or the material things money can buy, he was greedy for achievement, greedy for conquest and in his quest he lost his soul.

    Excellent movie, deep and good essy from you

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  83. K. S. writes:

    I quite liked this film. It disturbed me. The music and the imagery were good-weird. I thought it was well-acted, and it inspired me to look up further information about it on the internet. I thought your take on it was interesting, and I agree with a lot of the points you made. I admit I did have to watch it a couple of times to get everything, but I'm glad I did. Thank you for your thoughts, and for your time.

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  84. Anonymous writes:

    does anyone acknowledge the time plainview turned away a town's oil because he didn't seem to care for their bickering

    he seems to respect women throughout

    didn't h.w. know better than to lie on that roof before the oil well burst

    he hesitated before first signing his name as plainview
    — if he wasn't born plainview.. wouldn't he know that man wasn't his brother?

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  85. Anonymous writes:

    i'm not convinced h.w. wasn't daniel's son or that he was actually deaf.

    i wonder if daniel and h.w. really had a falling out @ the end.. or if they are actually working together

    i don't think daniel is really an alcoholic either

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  86. friz writes:

    yes great summary of the film,i bought a pirate copy(tut tut very bad) while on holidays in bali and the bloody thing stop working at the bowling alley scene thus i find myself here wondering if someone nicely could tell what happened at the end of the film???
    thanks.

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  87. Anonymous writes:

    The ones who say this movie was crap are the ones who lack the brain capacity to understand and point out the aformentioned themes. Good analysis, my friend. This movie, after only watching it twice, became one of my top 5 movies. 1. Shawshank redemption 2. Godfather 3. Godfather 2 4. Schindler's list 5. There will be blood

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  88. Deborah writes:

    I loved this critique also, but had a few questions that others may be able to answer.

    I, too, didn't understand the reason for adding a "Happy father/son moment" during his tirade towards the end.

    The other two things I didn't understand was

    1) why did Plainview Senior cover his face with a napkin while having an imaginary conversation with his son in the bar? Obviously it was to intimidate the people at the other table, but could it be because he was desperately trying to show that he had control over his son's situation? His son couldn't read lips anyway, so why cover his mouth, let alone his whole face?
    2) Why did Eli have 3 drinks to offer at the end of the movie? He cried foul to Plainview Sr. when his men drank, but now he was drinking himself, and on top of that bringing in a 3rd drink for a party of 2. That didn't make sense to me.

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  89. Anonymous writes:

    if i shat in your ear while you were asleep, i could tell you the next morning about the meaning behind it. the symbolism of how my excrement represented an asshole's waste for you to hear. does that make what i do art?

    i didn't like the movie. i don't like people. and i hate people with nothing to say, trying to shit in my ear. most of you who enjoy this movie are doing just that… trying to give life to waste that shouldn't be heard.

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  90. Anonymous writes:

    To Debrah:

    1. Daniel was wearing the napkin so as to hide from his son that he was talking to the other oil men, when he had yet to try and talk to his son.

    2. it is a very good question as to why there were three drinks; i have wondered that myself. all i know to touch on is how eli is offering daniel a drink, and daniel simply downs the water, i think almost to spit back at eli.

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  91. Anonymous writes:

    very great read. i was disappointed to have heard so many people talk poorly of this movie when i found it so in-depth. i do wish you did some analysis of the cinematography as well. some things that tie in with what you have mentioned –

    1. if you notice in the scene by the ocean when daniel and henry are sitting side by side, notice the lighting.

    2. the scenes of eli wearing a cross, and daniel wearing his chain in the church. just a parallel to think about, i suppose. that, and, the ending – eli drinks shots, as daniel drinks down the water.

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  92. Laura Indiana writes:

    One of my students recommended this film to me. So glad I found your thoughtful analysis and site. This film generates a great deal of thought–even the haters can't stop themselves from putting in their two cents. Ha.

    Thank you to the gentleman from Nigeria (August 4, 2009). Your thoughts and point of view are valuable and cogent.

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  93. Me writes:

    Just a quick response to queries concerning the flash back that occurs just after ddl and H.W have their argument at the end of the film. I think the flash back neatly sums up the relationship between the two characters: Lets break the flash back up in to stages i.e.

    1)DDL is playing an joking around with H.W at the beginning of the flash back… notice that this could be symbolic for the love that was truly evident between the two, yet on the other hand notice the crowd of workers around them perhaps eluding to the realization that their relationship was a lie, merely a pretense that allowed DDL to further his career using the boy and the whole 'family ideal' as a marketing scheme.

    2)DDL get up an starts to walk away evidently pushing the boy aside with quite a hard push. H.W's response to this is to kick dirt at his father in a somewhat playful manner however still symbolic of his later deviance and independence (starting his own business and moving away from his father)not forgetting DDL pushing his son away at the end telling him his is a bastard from a basket etc

    3) The flashback ends with HW and the little girl (his future wife) walking out of camera site (eluding to how HW and his wife are now leaving to Mexico) leaving only DDL walking towards the oil well, symbolic of what was of upmost importance to him all along.

    Thats my take on the flash back scene, pretty much sums the story of their whole relationship up in one beautifully shot 10 sec clip.

    Id like to think DDL loved the boy but the 'hard push' he gave the boy during the flashback really stood out to me, as if reemphasizing the fact that their relationship was simply a means to an end.

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  94. Anonymous writes:

    A better review than Ebert's. I disagree with you about Plainview's vanity, however. I think he was workaholic driven to the point of obsession. After the strike that deafened the boy, the look in Plainview's eyes as they blew the derek out was nearly pyromaniacal. He was obsessed in the sort of way that lures scientists to Antarctica.
    The tragedy of his loneliness was that he'd amassed more than anyone could ever steal, but he never found anyone he trusted enough to share it with.
    Good work, tho! Nice call on Plainview talking invictive.

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  95. FletcherHamilton writes:

    I realize I'm very late for this post –
    Since the first time I saw "There will be blood" I have continuously watched it over and over, more and more fascinated by every moment of this fabulous movie. I consider this the best movie of my generation and yes, I've often compared this to "Citizen Kane" for the exact reasons that you do.
    While this isn't a movie for everyone, this is truly a deep character study filled with intensity at every turn. The one thing I've fallen in love with is the music and how it seals the impact of every scene.
    Don't just turn this movie on while you are doing something else and think you've watched it – truly give it your full attention and open your mind along with ALL of your senses.
    I argue continuously with people that this is a movie far superior to "No country for old men". It was a good movie (and yes, I did read the book) but in my most humble opinion, it lacked all that was perfect in "There will be blood".

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  96. High Kalibur writes:

    I think sometimes a film like this, Mulholland Drive being my favorite example, cannot be completely and accurately transcribed to derive meaning out of every instance of screen time. Although you have made a noble attempt, ever stop to think that you might be reading too far into some symbols?

    Most of us would at least agree that this film is a work of art. So, the experience derived from it is subjective, no intended singular meaning for all elements is applicable.

    Anyway, great analysis… I'm writing a compare and contrast paper on the film for school. Maybe I'll post it…

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  97. Philip Whitehouse writes:

    I stumbled across this analysis from a google search, and thought it was an excellent article – very perceptive, and convincingly argued. Thought you might be interested to see a… errrmm… 'strikingly similar' analysis that came up in the same google search:

    http://bloodandpuke.livejournal.com/34959.html

    I think you should have a word with this Ryan Meade chappy – he seems to have rewritten your article there.

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  98. Anonymous writes:

    I think I actually enjoyed this analysis more than the movie itself. Your right in saying, "God has judged him proud, and punishes him with loneliness".

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  99. Carl writes:

    I love this movie and the title is great. Because at first you dont know why the title says ''There will be Blood'' but at the ending were Daniel kills Eli and the blood covers the bowlong lane, the title come and hit you in the face and says ''ha ha, I told you There will be Blood''. I like the irony of that.

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  100. Vishal writes:

    I must say,…even though, i didn't fully grasp the meaning of the film, i was still quite intrigued. This post has cleared things up for me, a bit.

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  101. Anonymous writes:

    I enjoyed this analysis and it definitely gave me more to think about. I do think it would have had more impact if Paul and Eli were the same guy. The tragedy of H.W.'s relationship broke my heart.
    I have 2 more thoughts on the film: 1.) I think in a way it expressed that zealots come in different forms. Eli was a religious zealot, but Plainview was just as zealous about oil/power.
    2.) I believe that "I am finished" could also have been in the context that Daniel had done "everything" he intended to do. He quashed all of his enemies, he completed his pipeline, he amassed his wealth, he built his dream home. There was nothing left. To lend credence to this theory, take into account his response when the railroad guy offered him millions for the land: "And then what would I do?"
    Now, 2 things that still have not been answered though they have been asked: Why the extreme lack of female characterization? I really think this was blatant. Whenever asked about his wife, Daniel would look extremely disturbed and refuse to speak of it. And even though Eli accused him of fornicating..or something along those lines, I never saw him look at or touch any female except for H.W.'s future wife. I really want to know what that was about.
    The other thing that struck me was that Bandy was so complacent about Daniel doing murder as long as he joined the church. WTF? See, Zealots are freaky people that should be avoided at all costs!

    Now for my rant: I think it is incredibly asinine that many of you commenters say that anyone who doesn't love this film is stupid. Would you say that to those who prefer Beethoven over Mozart? I mean do you people realize how stupid you sound? It's like saying a person is stupid because they don't like your favorite food.
    I didn't hate this movie, but I didn't love it either. It made me think, and like everyone else on here, including the haters, I found this site in hopes of learning more about what it was about, so it deserves props for that. Also, I loved the last ten minutes of it. Still, I doubt I'll bother watching it again.
    And no, it's not because I want to watch Disney movies or senseless action films…though Kill Bill is a lot of fun. I just have different tastes and I don't think that makes me stupid. I also don't think people who hate the movies that I love to watch over and over and analyze are stupid.
    Loved this post, it makes me want to do one about Natural Born Killers or The Count of Monte Christo or something.

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  102. Wolfalev writes:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this review, and I thank the author for taking time to write it. I would call my self a wannabe philosopher, and I really appreciate when someone comes along and sort of shows you what your looking for ;).

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  103. Kalum writes:

    I have to admit I was a bit shocked at the ending, but still felt that the plot of the film was deep and complex (in a good way) so that's exactly why I craved a good analysis of the film.

    Thank you, I really enjoyed your take on it. It's actually really refreshing to know that films like this exist. The sort of films that kids at school will watch and analyse with their English teacher, and really get their teeth into.

    I was expecting the standard token romance, and "happy ending" resolution at the end, but the fact that this doesn't happen makes the film unpredictably brilliant.

    Glad I watched it and even happier that I read this critical analysis.

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  104. Anonymous writes:

    it was an interesting piece. however, i don't quite agree with "He doesn't love, he wants, and thus fails to achieve godhood". i think it'd be more correct to say HE LOVES, BUT CAN"T FORGIVE. i guess the movie shows he does love his adapted son, but can't forgive him if the son chooses to become his competitor.

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  105. Anonymous writes:

    Absolutely outstanding college level analysis. All people who think this movie sucked do not understand how to properly analyze a movie or book by studying underlying themes, messages, and symbols. Instead they only understand the raw plot. Excellent job. Excellent deep movie!

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  106. Raveesh writes:

    Beautiful and thought provoking review of the movie. For a person who strives to see the depth of characters, but doesn't have the know how, this is a brilliantly satisfying! Thanks a bunch and keep writing

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  107. Anonymous writes:

    Thought it was good but not brilliant. The critics have it down as one of the best movies of the last 10 years.

    Not sure about that.

    Brilliant acting from pretty much all the cast but it's pretty far fetched stuff. I doubt a guy with everything would beat to death a loser like Eli for kicks.

    He'd be too clever for that. This is a legit (but ruthless) businessman not Tony fuckin' Montana.

    For that reason alone.

    7/10 Good but not the 10/10 I see quoted by the 'experts'.

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  108. Anonymous writes:

    This movie is my favorite I almost would call it the masterpiece of our time I identify with him on every level it has helped me know my self I am Daneil Plainview in the real.

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  109. Chuck writes:

    I agree with the majority of this article, I thought many of the same things mentioned here after the first time I watched it.

    However, I picked up on some themes that were touched on but not analyzed. I saw the God complex of Plainview and his obsession with language manipulation. But I think this serves to work with the theme of man's inherently evil nature. By recognizing and killing his own reflection (Eli), and by also having a "son" unable to connect on the level of language, Plainview is then isolated.

    Where I had some areas of uncertainty was whether or not this became a biblical lesson by trying to convey that the only way to heaven is through Jesus. Basically saying that you have to put aside personal pride to achieve peace.

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  110. Originally posted by anonymous:

    I agree with the majority of this article, I thought many of the same things mentioned here after the first time I watched it.

    However, I picked up on some themes that were touched on but not analyzed. I saw the God complex of Plainview and his obsession with language manipulation. But I think this serves to work with the theme of man's inherently evil nature. By recognizing and killing his own reflection (Eli), and by also having a "son" unable to connect on the level of language, Plainview is then isolated.

    Where I had some areas of uncertainty was whether or not this became a biblical lesson by trying to convey that the only way to heaven is through Jesus. Basically saying that you have to put aside personal pride to achieve peace.

    Good point, next to treachery, I believe pride is the lowest or one of the lowest circles of hell. Ultimately that was my point, that the loneliness is the salf-damnation of pride in the form of intensional godhood. I should explain do an edit and explain my title, as your point links back to the very reason why pride is so sinful.

    Intensional godhood is the fradulent notion where you believe you are Him simply because you have his traits, and that is arrogance/pride.

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  111. Anonymous writes:

    First, I don't think Paul and Eli are the same person. That makes no sense. If they were different people, why would Eli mention Paul, and blame him for telling Daniel about the presence of oil, in the scene where he is slapping Able?

    More than anything I think one of the underlying themes of the film is the birth of industrialization and science, and the death of superstitions/religion.

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  112. Anonymous writes:

    I am a couple of years late but I enjoyed your analysis! I was compelled by this character. He made me sad in a way that made me feel sorry for him. You can feel his lonliness in his movie but lonliness was covered by layers of other emotions that I could not really figure out. He turned his family away, but still wanted family. You made it make sense to me. Very complex character and very well done by DD Lewis. And I could not stand Eli by the way. He got on my nerves.

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  113. Anonymous writes:

    Ryan: This was a great movie. Good job Andrea, they should go see Alvin if they don't understand it. The end wasn't about "violence" at all. The end was about his final plunge into total madness and losing all he once had. It's about a man who loses it more and more as the story progresses. It's not about what happens with his oil business. Duhhh.

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  114. Jon writes:

    your analysis is very interesting; it's unfortunate that there are many ignorant and ridiculous claims to follow; e.g. (1) "there is no 'right' interpretation (so I can justifiably say, the movie was about two roaches in my closest at home? – of course not, this hippy stupidity – don;t judge anybody or anything! – is absurd) or the (2) 'this movie was crap' types.

    I think your claim about Plainviews' indicative mood is accurate; he is very much tied to words and description although never wanting to explain himself. Which makes me think your analysis of P not being able to bring up his son in his image because of the lack of hearing is inaccurate – all he sees is his actions, true, but Plainview (P) views himself as a man of action, control, power, etc. This desire to control others as a completion/actualization of himself is manifest by his derangement and aimlessness towards the end of the movie when people are taken away – remember at one point he says to the oil guy, 'and what will I do with myself in a big mansion?' Without action, he's a mess since he is not a man of words/idleness.

    This brings me to a second point you did not touch upon. P's refusal to teach/raise his son, but his reversal after his 'baptism'. At first he said he wouldn't quit because he wouldn't know what to do with himself. Oil guy takes this question literally and suggests raising his son in a mansion (which incidentally, he says he would like to in convo w henry – make enough to get away from people). He ends up taking care of his son and living in a mansion; but then his son leaves, perhaps showing the influence of Eli and Bandy on him at that time (which is traced to the murder of his "brother", Henry).

    One other thing. You say P will kill to get what he wants. Where does he kill to get what he wants? If this is the case, you would think he would kill Bandy. But he didn't. He killed two people who were false, the "brother" and Eli, for no other reason than they were false. If people were in his way, he went around them, buying up property or purchasing deals/relationships around obstacles.

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  115. Anonymous writes:

    An excellent essay.

    To the people who commented early on this film being a piece of shit, I challenge you to give good reasons for that. Why does not having and dialogue for the first 15 (not 20) minutes of a film detract from its quality? Could the first 15 minutes really have been done better with dialogue?

    Millions of subplots which had nothing to do with the main story? What on Earth are you talking about?

    Uncomfortable pauses? I assume you mean in dialogue, right? I'd say there's good reason for pauses in dialogue.

    As for No Country For Old Men being better than this film. I agree but it's a close contest.

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  116. Many of you are dumb writes:

    You have to be smart to like this film. I'm not saying being dumb is a bad or an unworthy-trait, but people who demean this film or this fantastic analysis are impatient-ignoramuses.

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  117. ^^^Same jerk as above^^^^ writes:

    Oh, one more thing, Old Country for Old Men is more about a character being REACTIVE to his surroundings, while in There Will Be Blood, the protagonist tries to control his world and is exceedingly more PROACTIVE. It's easier for me to understand why someone REACTED the way they did because understanding how I would have reacted forms the basis for comparison with the character. When the main character is proactive, I have to try harder to understand WHY the character did what they did…and more importantly, HOW the character is thinking.

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  118. Anonymous writes:

    I appreciated your analysis. Thank you.

    "Fundamentally, two distrusting men of competitive nature cannot be brothers." –>Brilliant insight. You have no idea how true this is. In this movie, as well as in my personal family life, it seems that those with money, wealth, and power are predisposed to dislike each other more frequently because each party knows what they had to do to gain their power and they must assume the other person undertook similar actions as well. In reality, they see themselves in the other person and they cannot stand the sight.

    Maybe I'm wrong, but it's just my 1:00AM opinion.

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  119. Berad writes:

    At the end, when Daniel told Eli that "I am the third revelation". I thought it meant that the reality was that men like Daniel, men of power and money, that do things without concern for god and religion are God themselves.

    Daniel just got done making Eli say that God was superstition. So I don't think Daniel thought he was God. I think Daniel thought that there is no god and the Gods of this world were men like him. Men with power and superiority…….therefore he felt justified in laying judgement on Eli and killing him. Because he wont be judged by a non existent God for doing it.

    When he said " I am finished " he meant that in the same way he would say to his butler, "I am finished" after eating a meal. Carelessly and arrogantly, with no reason for remorse. He was simply finished, because he believes he has the earthly right to do as he pleases…because he does not believe in god or that he will be judged for his actions.

    Daniel may detest religion down deep because if there was a God then Daniel would have not been abandoned as a child.

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  120. Anonymous writes:

    Brilliant analysis! Although I disagree with you on a few points. The parallels between Eli and Daniel are absolutely fascinating. Both blessed with extreme power and command through their own voice and influence, conflict and envy between the two is inevitable. Daniel is in pursuit of blood (family) to combat his increasing loneliness which becomes all the more potent following the loss of HW's hearing and the realisation that Henry isn't his real brother. He is blessed with wealth and power, but I do not feel he is inherently a greedy character – he feels a need to prove himself and believes in fairness (he criticises the Standard Oil people for wanting to purchase his hard work and not looking in the dirt themselves.) The more oil he acquires and the richer he becomes, the lonelier he gets – when he makes the major discovery, he faces the first major blow to his family man appearance in HW losing his hearing. Eli, on the other hand, has a large family and is in pursuit of power and control. He feels the need to bless the well in order to feel some sort of ownership and involvement in the project. Eli is in pursuit of blood (through God) in the hope that God will grant him power and fortune. I feel he is far greedier than Daniel, frequently referencing the money that is owed to the church. However at the end of this movie, both men reach the same fate. Daniel is left well and truly isolated from everyone – the barrier between him and HW is unbreakable now, and he has pushed his son away declaring there is none of his blood in him. On the other hand, has he achieved what he desired? He mentioned his only drive for earning money was to get away from people. There may be some closure in the final statement "I'm finished." He's lost his final 'brother' – Eli – and his pursuit for family is completed, but not with a happy ending. His search for family blood has ended in the actual blood of Henry and Eli being spilled. Eli, who was in search of power and fortune, is left penniless and goes to Daniel for help. Eli's demise was inevitable if he remained in contact with Daniel – the power he had over the community and in his voice posed competition to the oilman. In short, my interpretation is the plight of two men each with a God complex in search of different things and ultimately reaching the same brutal conclusion. They both end up with nothing, but it was a bloody journey. The conflict between this two characters is so brilliantly complex, absolutely fascinating. The power struggle goes round and round. and most physical conflict between the two involves one pushing the other down – Daniel pushes Eli into the mud, Eli pushes Daniel down to his knees during baptism, Daniel eventually…beats Eli to death with a skittle. The relationship between Daniel and HW is far more abstract and requires a few more viewings on my part to truly understand.

    Sorry for babbling on – again, really great analysis and very interesting points raised.

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  121. Donald Planey writes:

    After seeing this, I just wanted to comment on the debate about Capitalism's role in the movie:

    I think many viewers who are not versed in the history of Capitalism probably fail to see just what it is that the director wanted to say on the subject. The Sociologist Max Weber wrote a timeless book called "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Calvinism" on Capitalism's origins in Christianity. Capitalism's first devotees were Puritan industrialists, those of the same sort who originally settled America (and eventually splintered into many groups including the Baptists seen in the movie). This form of Christianity saw endless production as a way to prove one's divine chosen-ness, i.e., their worthiness for entering heaven. Once this attitude became secularized, we got Adam Smith and the other early Capitalists who laid the foundation for Planview's economic lifestyle. It's interesting that Planview follows the Capitalist spirit with a religious fervor, and as a result comes to despise actual religious fervor.

    So, the biblical nature doesn't need to crowd out the Capitalist interpretation. The line between Christianity and Capitalism has been blurry in Western civilization ever since the Calvinist branch of the Protestant reformation came to prominence and played an essential role in shaping American identity. So, the line between raw Capitalism and religion within "There Will Be Blood" is probably best viewed as fluid as well.

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  122. Michael writes:

    The person that made the following comment below is a blockhead and a crackpot. Stop reading just to read and think about what you read. You are the idiot.

    Anonymous # 1. February 2008, 07:56
    David writes: Are you mental? That was the biggest piece of shit I ever saw. I cannot believe that you spent countless hours dissecting that crap.

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  123. Jenny writes:

    Thanks for all the interesting comments. When I watched the film I was rather mesmerised, not least by DD Lewis but buy the complex and seemingly disjointed plot. Having read so many useful comments I have been able to find some closure in the meaning of the films narrative and ending; which rather baffled me to begin with.

    My first impression was that DDL was playing a driven man, but this was quickly subsumed by seeing him as a man with and anti-social personality disorder. It wasn't until his relationship with Eli developed that I saw them both as driven sociopaths, which probably differs from the interpretation others as made as Eli being the good, or conscience, etc of the film.

    To me the interplay between the two characters is what drives them both in the different, but underlying similar desires toward success while both manifestly critical and dogmatic in their characters.

    This can be seen easily in the Plainview (DDL) character but also in Eli in his reproach against his father for "stupidity", in being a preacher of his own brand of religion, in his subjugation and humiliation of Plainview during the baptism, and in his choice of radio to further HIS "church".

    This to me explains in the end why Plainview murdered Eli, which, to a reasoning man was unnecessary and even to an unreasonable man as Eli was both beaten and humiliated. To me Eli had a strange fascination for Plainview, suggested by the scene at the railway station were Plainview was clearly interested in Eli's departure to California.

    In conclusion I see both as sociopaths, both manage to pull themselves out of the masses and distinguish themselves toward their grandious ideals, however only Plainview succeeds and is quick to crush, humiliate and remorselessly brutally murder Eli, the cuckoo in the nest, the grandiose pretender.

    Having struggled to understand the final line, "I'm finished", and wondering if he meant, his life is over for he had already lost his "son" and would now loose his freedom and fortune for his murder; I now think that he meant, I'm finished – as in "my life is complete", he has his money, his business, his grand house, and his deferential servant. He has conquered his known world and destroyed and humiliated his opponent, Eli, who had the misfortune of crossing paths with him during their ambitious climb their self-perceived entitlement.

    I really enjoyed the film, which surprised me in itself.

    On another note, I think his "son" set fire to his "brothers" bed out of plain jealousy (or some kind of Oedipal rage). As his brother replaced the son in Plainviews affections and attention after the boy was deafened. Though I don't quite share the view that he was careless of the boy in letting him work on the rig, rather his sociopathy meant he was "casually indifferent" to any misfortune that may befall the child, and both in himself and others took risk and injury as part of life.

    In fact it was not in his interests for the child to be hurt as the child doted on him satisfying his need to have despotic control and enslavement of another as another manifestation of his Personality Disorder.

    In the end I'm glad to watch a film that made me think, whether my conclusions have any merit is immaterial really. I note though the extreme and profane reactions to the film and comments and while as a great believer in freedom of speech, I can't help wonder why a seemingly uncontroversial film as this should provoke such hostility and can only speculate taht it is the "similar poles repelling effect" both between Plainview and Eli, and between the characters and certain viewers who recognise and reject similarities to their own personalities?

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  124. Edward Devlin writes:

    Interesting and enjoyable essay. But can't help but feel you're over-reaching at times. I strongly disagree with one idea you stated: "His life is ruined, and he's literally destroyed his future by committing a murder before a witness."
    This is a big assumption from you. I would think it much more likely that he murdered Eli with total impunity. The 'witness' you talk about is his servant and I think it's much more likely he will be disposing of the body rather than telling the police. An oil man of Plainview's wealth is above the law.

    I'm not sure, but my take on "I'm finished" is, firstly, the separation of church and state. And, secondly, it was just a nice clean way of ending the film with a flourish.

    I liked your reading of the title and agree with some of your points, but I think it more simply means that this is the birth of a nation build on industry and oil and we, 100 years in the future, are fucked because of over-reliance on it.

    Great, great film, though.

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  125. frankie writes:

    some meanings i got from the movie. i think Eli represents Daniel. Eli's father pushes religion on his kids and beats them. One could draw a conclusion from Daniel's actions that that is the reason why Daniel is the way he is. He was beaten as a child and was pushed into religion. This could explain Daniel's absolute disdain for religion of any kind, and also explain his departure from his family. Eli is a manipulative crook conning weak/innocent people to gain strength and power, much like Daniel. One could also come to a conclusion about the ending, "i'm finished", as being that he has finished killing his family. i know how horrid that sounds but after watching the movie a few times, i don't know what else the ending is supposed to mean. his real father is dead, his mother was never proven to be alive, seeing as how henry was born to another mother. daniel's real brother died of tuberculosis. daniel killed his fake brother henry, and also killed HW by denouncing him to the point that he will never see him or speak to him again. and then he kills eli, his only real family member left (since HW married Mary), at the end. "i'm finished" could mean he's finished with his family. How this has to do with anything i'm not really sure, although one could somehow draw similarities to the creator of all this madness, Paul Thomas Anderson. Judging by his longing for family of some sort in his movies, and his sociopathic characters one can only assume that these longings/characterists are themselves in the creator. Boogie Nights is about finding some sort of family in life. Magnolia deals with emotional family problems, as well as emotional/physical child abuse. Punch Drunk Love deals with a sociopathic character in need of love to create harmony in his life. Does this mean PTA has these characteristics? was he beaten as a child, or pushed into religion, or is he a sociopath? one will never know, although it seems naive to think that one can create these characters/meanings in movies and not have them inside you.

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  126. Josephine writes:

    Very nice analyzis! it helps me understand the movie much better – before I found it difficult to really understand this complex man.

    I thought of citizen Cane too after I had seen it.

    Only the music was at times annoying – too much of it, though I guess it filled a purpose, just as Daniel Plainview is "too much"…

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  127. Anonymous writes:

    GOD, i still can't get over you fucking idiots. HEHEHEH there will be mustaches YES IS FUNNY BECAUSE HE DESCRIBED THE MAIN CHARACTER AND THERE WERE A DECENT AMOUNT OF MUSTACHES…AND OH ITS THE LATE 1800's EARLY 1900's GOD FORBID THERE WAS A MUSTACHE OR ANOTHER STORYLINE YOU HAD TO CATCH ON TO? don't even post on this blog if you have nothing better to do but make immature comments about the analysis, the film, the director….for your shitty little entertainment. FFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

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  128. Anonymous writes:

    Great analysis. And to the assholes who claim this movie is "trash", I have no clue what the fuck you were watching but it obviously wasn't this masterpiece. The movie is a deliberately paced decent into corruption, greed, and madness. – And to this fucking asshole, your head is too far up your ass. ( "I have a few different names for this movie: There will be Mustaches There will be long Uncomfortable Pauses There will be Millions of Sub Plots that have little to do with the story There will be no dialog for the first 20 minutes other than those titles I really liked this movie, however it had no spine to base the movie around. Essentially there was no reason for the movie. I am going to piss a lot of movie purists out there who think they are so much smartier than the rest of the world…… No Country for Old Men is 80 million billion times better than this movie. There is an example of a main story, but not being fully limited. IT told its story and the characters responses and ended. The was no opening and no closure to anything in this move. It was like we watched the middle of a larger movie with 40 minutes missing from the beginning and the end. There is Cinema, Film and art. This is film, and film is supposed to have a story structure. also, Go Fuck Yourself Andrea and all of your elitist friends.") – I'm sorry if you can't understand a film thats not fucking linear ( Hi im "blank", this is my problem, this is how its fixed or not, and resolution), but maybe you should hop to it or just kill yourself. Because honestly, this is one of the main reasons why shit movies are being perpetually released (all im seeing is 80's remakes and sequels and blockbusters) The problem is, all the drama and passion has been sucked out of film by antiintellectual pieces of shit like you. Also, your elitist comment makes very little sense, "there is cinema, film, and art"??? What the fuck are you talking about – FILM IS ART, and just because it doesn't fit your shitty "i'm all for story and structure and if a film doesn't do all of these for me its automatically trash" mindset, doesn't mean it needs to be labeled a pos….All in all, watch the movie again when you're actually looking at the screen instead of with your thumb up your ass, drooling, wondering where the action and blood is because it said it in the title. Go fuck YOURSELF.

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  129. Anonymous writes:

    Brent writes: Hey, there may have been a lot of trash talking and elitist individuals here complaining or complaining about the complaining, but this film was a masterpiece.
    Don't ruin it with your opinions and mislead stubbornness people.
    Amazing study on the film, thank you for all your time and effort-
    Plainview is one of the most incredible characters of our generation and I'll follow that statement till the end.

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  130. Dan writes:

    I thought it was a brilliant choice to use 'Fratres' as the central musical theme in the film: the inherent tension in the piece coincides with Daniel's inner turmoil as to his relationship with HW. The piece comes to a head after the well explosion and HW loses his hearing.

    Also of note is the title of the piece; it means 'brethren' and as such starkly contrasts Daniel's solitude abd inability to connect with others, even his own 'son' in the end.

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  131. Douglas writes:

    Great analysis. I was absorbed in the movie throughout, save 2 moments in the film. #1 the seemingly unmotivated humiliation of Eli when he approached Plainview in the field regarding the $5,000. And the scene in the church where Plainview calls upon god for the blood of the lamb and follows Eli's lead in saying "I have abandoned my child!" repeatedly. His motivation being the pipeline. In doing this charade he is in a way self defeating, trading his pride and dignity to further his business ambition. There just seems to be a conflict there, in a character that is otherwise very solid.

    I agree with you in most respects regarding Plainview's monumental self aggrandizing, arrogance, and pride being his primary concern and character, with greed being present but not of an uncommon sort. But save greed, I can't really think of an explanation as to why he would bow down in the church and play along.

    Thanks for the essay, really cleared some things up.

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  132. heyman29323 writes:

    Sorry my comment is sort of late oh just by a few years or so but I was just watching it on blu-ray. This film should be taught in film school. From the opening shot. Where do we first see him. We see him in the ground. He literally comes from the land. The way he dresses is as economical as he speaks (not speaking until 15 minutes into the film) He speaks in the indicactive tone, very declarative. The title of the film and the line in the film very much a part of this kind of speech pattern. His personality is as brutal as the land he comes from. When he breaks his leg and crawls along the land he is literally the same color as the ground. He obviously has a god complex and everything in his personality stems from that as well and only the sound of his own voice soothes him. It's his power – the way he manipulates. And he doesn't even speak until he gets some wealth and power which is about 15 minutes into the film. And in the first four scenes where he does first to speak we actually hear his voice before we even see him. And when his son loses his hearing this is the worst thing that could happen to Daniel as now he has no power over his son. I could go on all day. But you get the picture. If you break this movie down it's all there for you to do so.

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  133. Anonymous writes:

    An excellent analysis. I didn't like the movie, but no one in there right mind would argue that Plainview was a bad character. I just thought they took a little long to get to the point, but your article has really opened up some of the thoughts I had on the subject!

    If I may be so bold, I would like to give another interpretation of the final words. I don;t know if you had said this, but killing Eli as far as I could tell was a killing of himself as well. He and Eli were very similar, and I believe Plainsview killing him is an act of self-hatred and when he says "I'm finished" he means he's finished what he saw in himself as well.

    Just a thought, brilliant analysis, thank you!

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  134. Matt writes:

    Thanks for the great analysis. After reading your analysis and all the comments I don't have very many original thoughts, but I couple things to add.
    1) I don't believe that Paul and Eli were meant to be the same person. Since this story obviously has a lot of bible references, Paul and Eli remind me of the story of the Prodigal son. Paul is the son who leaves the family to be his own person and doesn't want to be tied to the family, whereas Eli is the son who stays home working for his father, and expects rewards for doing so. In the end when Plainview is mocking Eli saying "paul is rich as an oil man" I don't think that paul actually went into the oil business, but that paul was the smart one to make some money and that eli is stupid. Otherwise why would Paul sell out his land if he knew that there was oil?
    2) I believe that at the end when he says "I'm finished" has dual meaning. I think he said it because 1- he said it when his butler showed up, and that is something you generally say to a butler when you are finished with a meal or something. Also I think it means he is finished with his life. I think he realizes that everything he has done up to that point has brought him nothing but loneliness and misery even though he believed it would bring him happiness, and now he is finally finished trying, giving up at life.
    3) I don't think that plainview thinks Eli as his brother, but rather as a threat and a nuisance. Plainview dismissed H.W as his son, saying none of his blood is in him, therefore H.W's marriage does not make Eli his brother in law at least in Plainview's mind. I think he was probably more offended that Eli said they were brothers, when Plainview despises every inch of Eli.
    4) I think that when Plainview says "Did you think all of your jumping around would save you? I am the church of the third revelation" etc.. he is just saying that all the religious hullabaloo Eli had been spitting was false and means nothing. I do not think that Plainview believes himself to be God, rather that there is no God and adding insult to injury by saying that Eli's life had been meaningless devoting it to a higher power that doesn't exist.
    5) about H.W. I believe Plainview had love for the boy even when he lost his hearing. He maybe didn't love him as a son, but as an extension of himself. In a sense, this is what all fathers do, they try to instill their morals and beliefs into their children. However, when Plainviews source of power, his voice, could no longer reach H.W, all passing of beliefs, morals, etc.. halted further progress for Plainview to pass his legacy onto H.W. causing confusion and internal conflict for plainview, and when Henry showed up, it gave Plainview another way to pass that legacy on, making H.W no longer needed. Also a side note to whoever made a comment about how Plainview gave H.W whisky in his bottle, it was a very common practice back then to dip the nipple of a bottle, or rub their finger, in alcohol for teething children to numb the pain in their gums, so plainview wasn't being irresponsible for that.
    6) I have a possible explanation for why there are basically no women in the movie. This movie is all about power and dominating over others. Women during this time has very little power or authority, so if Plainview asserted dominance over women it could potentially make him seem barbaric and cruel,taking away from the genius of his character. but if he dominates over other men, who SHOULD be equal, validates Plainview in his belief that he is better than other men. This is just a possible explanation, and could be VERY wrong, but just a thought.

    Overall this was a very interesting and thought provoking film. I think people need to stop comparing it to No Country for Old Men though, they really are quite different.

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  135. Anonymous writes:

    there are idiots who have criticized the film and your work. they are morons and will remain so. i pity them though they aren ot deserving of it. this analysis is perfect. well done!

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  136. Anonymous writes:

    RE – "I'm finished" – I think there are several possible meanings. It brings us full circle to his name again. Plainview – Eli too is a commodity. Something he has consumed. We bein the scene with Plainview having his meal – during the scene, he screams at Eli "I eat you up".
    The Butler, who would usually collect his tray, is drawn to the noise – Plainview says "I'm finished". It's what he would usually say – he is talking about both his meal and Eli – he expects what he has discarded to be taken away.

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  137. Anonymous writes:

    Very interesting analysis of this movie, thank you. There is one scene that keeps nagging at me — and it may be nothing –but what is the significance of the scene where Daniel confronts Abel about beating his daughter because she won't pray? Is it just out of his general hatred of religion, or is it because he is genuinely coming to the defense of a defenseless person?

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  138. Mike in OKC writes:

    Hey to everyone who doesn't understand filmmaking or character development. Just go check out the new Steven Segal movie or JC Van Damme and leave the people that actually like to be challenged and appreciate an incredible picture.

    Please, you don't have to think DD Lewis is the greatest actor of this generation, you don't have to believe PT Anderson is the best screenwriter / director. You would be wrong. But you can think that if you want.

    And I say to you, go check out GI Joe part 2 or whatever shit they send out of hollywood nowadays and leave the THINKING movies to us.

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  139. Maria writes:

    To me, it is an entirely human saga. It's about rape and exploitation by two alike men coming from different directions and converging eventually at the central and final focal point. Daniel exploits and rapes the land to extrude from it what will give him power over men. Eli exploits ignorance and fear in people to extract from their gullibiity that which will give him power over them. Along the way, both lose their humanity.

    If analogies are needed it would rather be with something from the pen of Euripides: Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad. …

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  140. Will writes:

    This movie is about a man who hates mankind. He finds lowering himself to sentimentality to be revolting. He despises human interaction yet does so just to become rich to insure that he has a materially comfortable existence in his solitude of old age. The movie is loosely based on a novel by Upton Sinclair and the oilman Edward L. Doheny.

    The movie is a masterpiece and it is easy to understand why the common herd cannot fathom it.

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  141. Anonymous writes:

    well, i fell asleep during this movie. The title "there will be blood" isn't very true considering there isn't much blood at all and the very little blood that is in the movie is at the very end. i was bored with this movie but that's just me.

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  142. Brian writes:

    So glad to see this thread still running. I was fortunate to watch the movie again and loved it just as much. It has to be up there in my top 3 favorite movies along with Revolutionary Road and Black Swan, yet more movies to draw endless conclusions from.

    I have skimmed most all the comments and have gained insight and opinions from these and of course the movie itself. I would love feedback on my observations/questions.

    *Mary plays a mysterious character to me. It is intriguing how often Daniel Physically touches her. Much can be drawn from this but her character baffles me.

    *I don't see Eli as a fraud, or one who is fake in his Christian beliefs. At the town meeting his authenticity of asking about the road leading to the church seems sincere. What I see most with the Eli/Daniel spat is the Power struggle. Eli is Daniel's only threat (competition). Daniel doesn't want respect from the town, simply complete control. At the opening of the well Eli is expected to get the big stage in front of the towns people but is blown off by Daniel. Notice Eli does not ask really, it's more of a demand with specifics on how and when to introduce him. We know later that no one tells Daniel what to do and how to do it (standard oil confrontation). When Daniel goes to church and sees Eli's control over the congregation it makes him furious. Eli acts as competitor to the threat of the town worshiping something other than oil. Remember the speeches Daniel gave of what oil could do to a community? This was his version of a Prophecy but using Oil as worship instead of religion. The last power struggle attempt to "leverage" Daniel came in the final scene where Eli assumed he could name a price for the final piece of land. Not only does Daniel "win" by not needing the land but he was able to exploit the fault of Eli. Eli was money hungry and would alter his beliefs because of it. When Eli admitted to these things of being a fake he does not believe this but is under complete control of Daniel in order to get the money.

    * Lastly, Daniels "brother form another mother." What is everyone's take on the scene before his death. They appear to be in some kind of Brothel in which he asks Daniel for money, and then has to ask again. Why the repetition and what is the significance in the Brothel.

    Thanks

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