Wednesday, December 27, 2017


“I have a competition in me. I want no one else to succeed.”

This month marks the 10th anniversary of Paul Thomas Anderson’s THERE WILL BE BLOOD.

Loosely based on Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil!, THERE WILL BE BLOOD follows a ruthless oil-man on his quest for wealth during Southern California’s oil boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a tale of greed which led to a lust for power at all costs, even at the expense of family.

In 2007, writer and director Paul Thomas Anderson had already cemented his reputation as one of cinema’s most interesting filmmakers, existing on the fringes of mainstream Hollywood with finely crafted films with quirky characters…while exploring love, family, and the debauchery of the 1970’s. His films had elements of fun and zany while maintaining serious themes, but the world was unprepared for what was coming in December of that year.

A few years before, Anderson was working on a screenplay of his own about two warring families, but was struggling with the idea. He picked up a copy of Sinclair’s novel having been drawn by the cover art, and immediately fell in love with it. He began adapting the novel to the screen, and spent countless hours in museums researching the early workings of oil mining from the era. He wrote the script with actor Daniel Day-Lewis in mind, who, like Anderson, had cemented his reputation as one of cinema’s finest actors. The rest of the cast was rounded out with Ciaran Hinds, Kevin J. O’Connor, and Dillon Freasier. Paul Dano was cast in the role of twin brothers late into production.

It would take nearly two years for BLOOD to go before cameras, as studios did not feel the film had the scope of a major motion picture. Once financing was finally secured, filming began in 2006 in Texas and took three months. Daniel Day-Lewis, ever the method-actor, once again stayed in character between takes, and immersed himself in research by studying photographs, reading letters from actual oil miners and workers, and reading up on oil tycoons that the novel was originally based on. The score was provided by Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead.

The results were stunning. With Anderson’s layered storytelling and the breathtaking cinematography by Robert Elswit, THERE WILL BE BLOOD was a critical darling and Anderson immediately drew comparisons to past master filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrick, David Lean, and John Huston. It would appear on many top 10 best-of-the-year lists, and today on many best-of-the-millennium lists. It was one of the most nominated films during awards season, including eight Academy Awards…including Best Picture, and a Best Actor win for Daniel Day-Lewis, and Best Cinematography for Elswit. Day-Lewis would also win a Golden Globe and BAFTA Award. Today, it is among the highest-ranking 21st century films in the British Film Institute’s Sight and Sound poll, and named the “Best Film of the 21st Century So Far’ by The New York Times.


Each person has at least one film in their life that changes the way they look at movies. For this Blogger, there have been five, and THERE WILL BE BLOOD is one of them. On the surface it is a tale of greed and aggressive capitalism, but deeper than that it is a story of a lust for power…with the characters belonging to Day-Lewis and Paul Dano taking on the roles of God and the Devil; locked in an immortal battle for the souls of everyone around them. It is also a piece of forgotten American history, where pioneers pushed out west in what is now a vanished frontier. With that, the film has endless staying power. When Reel Speak compiled a Best of the Millennium list in 2015 (HERE), choosing a masterpiece for the top spot was an easy one. This is a prime example of great cinema.

“I drink your milkshake!”

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