Yesterday Chad and I went to the theaters by UCI to watch the first showing of There Will Be Blood (9.0/10.0 IMDb) and had we seen it in 2007, it would have made the 2007 top ten list for both Chad and I. (Which reminds me – I need to add Last King of Scotland to my top ten list; although it was considered for last year’s Oscar’s we did see that movie in 2007. Violence aside, that movie was excellent and bone-chilling.)
There was something strange about There Will Be Blood, in the same way there was something strange about No Country for Old Men. I want to say that both movies felt anti-cinematic to me, yet I know that the Coen brothers story board the hell out of their screenplays in the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock – and who’s more cinematic than Alfred Hitchcock? Perhaps I mean to say that both movies are so cinematic that they become nearly non-narratives; driven forward by inexorable tragic hubris rather than a plot.
Because what the hell was There Will Be Blood about anyway?! I know that I felt an undercurrent of danger and menace from the first musical screeches of the eerie score. I know that Henry Plainview’s life was hard against hard: the movie began with man alone in the dark wielding a pick against an implacable earth – and later, losing his tools and the health of his leg, alone in the desert, is not an insurmountable obstacle, but merely another day to to endure: one of many burdens Plainview will carry with him to mercenary success. I know that Daniel Day Lewis acted the hell out of Plainview’s character, so much so that I can hardly remember what any other character looked like or said (save the dark beseeching eyes of his son). I know I kept looking for Plainview’s enemy; was it God? Or just that man of God?
I watched Ebert and Roper out of the corner of my eye this evening; both men loved the movie, but what they said about it hasn’t yet made sense to me. They flashed Upton Sinclair’s name about and I caught somebody saying that Plainview represented capitalism at the turn of the century. Capitalism?
Well, perhaps. In that way I can understand that Plainview’s only enemy was himself.