It has been a while since I’d seen There Will Be blood, and I was at the lovely Brighton Dome to watch it. Memories of the severe and dark Daniel Plainview remained, but it had been ten years since, so it was almost like watching the film for the first time.
The fifty piece orchestra assembled. The screen was lit with red lights and the antique lettering of the title There Will Be Blood lingered on the screen before the film began. The runtime is 158 minutes. It’s a long film. It begins with a scene set before the turn of the twentieth century. A simply dressed man, seemingly alone, chips away at the wall, metres below the surface. He is searching for something, what he finds is gold, and then oil. It’s oil, fossil fuel, hydrocarbons, buried beneath the surface of the vast American plains that make Daniel Plainview a rich man.
There Will Be Blood is the story of a man driven to succeed in a difficult and lonely environment. The supporting cast include Paul Dano playing Paul and Ely Sunday and Dillon Freasier as the young HW. I mention him as it is Freasier and Daniel Day Lewis that really captured my imagination in this film. I haven’t yet mentioned what made this screening so special – the large string section, the horns, trumpets, piano and conductor who provided the, at times, beautiful but mostly unsettling soundtrack to the stark landscapes of early century America.
Greenwood’s composition totally deserves this attention. Maybe that goes without saying, but the complexities of the soundtrack were played to perfection. I often caught myself forgetting that this was being played live. It was just wonderful.
The film has not aged despite being ten years old. Daniel Day Lewis delivered a convincing performance and succeeded in transporting my thoughts back to what it might have been like at the turn of the century, for a struggling and ambitious capitalist. As a father, he is believable because he takes care of HW. Although, there is some focus on the function and social dynamics within the church. Specifically the role of religion for the community. It is also through the church and the actions of the simpering, evangelical (yes he is both) Ely Sunday that Plainview is brought to a realisation about the decisions he makes regarding his son.
It’s a heart-breaking and violent film. Maybe one of those films which will be a classic in twenty years time. The soundtrack certainly will stand for itself. At once complementing the film and its backdrops, but also inspiring modern classical music, in my opinion. It was a very short 158 minutes. I was thrilled to be part of this exceptional event at the Dome, which felt somewhere between theatre and film.