There Will Be Blood
What if an alien in the future stumbled upon There Will Be Blood? Welcome to Earthling Cinema, where we examine the last remaining artifacts of a once-proud culture and try to understand what human lives were like before their planet was destroyed. I’m your host, Garyx Wormuloid.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciarán Hinds
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Production Co: Paramount Vantage, Miramax, Ghoulardi Film Company
Written by: Ben Steiner
Analysis & Directed by: Jared Bauer
Starring: Mark Schroeder (https://twitter.com/mark_schroeder)
Edited by: Ryan Hailey
Original Music by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Opening Animation by: Danny Rapaport
Producer & Additional Artwork by: Jacob S. Salamon
There Will Be Blood’s Hidden Meaning – Earthling Cinema
Greetings, and welcome to Earthling Cinema. I am your host, Garyx Wormuloid. This week’s artifact is There Will Be Blood, directed by 19th century showman P.T. Barnum, who famously coined the phrase “There’s a lollipop born every minute.” I still have a lot to learn about Earth’s agriculture.
There Will Be Blood tells the story of Daniel Plainview, a human male who enjoys burrowing into the ground like a worm. A disgusting earthworm. His worm buddy dies, so Daniel reappropriates his offspring and christens him HW, short for “Human Worker.” Fittingly, he uses this worker to start a business.
Out of nowhere, some dork tells Daniel about a place where he can get a metric buttload of oil, which is perfect because that’s one of Daniel’s favorite things to worm around for. Daniel crawls his way over there and buys up all the land, angering Eli, another identical dork. Soon, Daniel’s oil business explodes, knocking everyone’s socks off and stuffing them in their ears.
Daniel’s half-and-half-brother Henry shows up, so Daniel does the responsible thing and succumbs to nepotism. HW gets jealous and tries to fire Henry, so Daniel ships his son off to obedience school like a dog. A disgusting earthdog.
Freed of that dead weight, he quickly strikes up lucrative-ass deal with Union Oil and gets to work on an pipeline. Unfortunately, Daniel discovers an inaccuracy on Henry’s resume, so he has no choice but to clean house. He goes to Eli’s church and they both scream the same thing I do every day when I drop the kids off at school. Only his version doesn’t quite capture the same unbridled exuberance.
Later, HW grows up and wants his own business, but Daniel has a few choice words for him. Now without a partner for the big bowling tournament, he is forced to go stag. Eli shows up for a few frames, and Daniel responds by beating him fair and square. Or more accurately, fair and oblong.
As the title might suggest, the primary motif in There Will BE Blood is bees. No wait, blood. Oil serves as a metaphor for the blood of Christ, which was the juice in Christ’s veins that gave him laser vision. In this shot, sunlight forms a halo around Daniel, making him look almost holy. One of Daniel’s workers puts oil on infant HW’s forehead, thus baptizing him in the eyes of the American government. Similarly, Daniel baptizes Eli in a puddle of oil because that’s what jocks do. The nerds get their revenge when Eli makes Daniel beg for a baptism of his very own. He acquiesces, but is he being bathed in the grace of God, or is he just psyched he can finally finish laying that pipe? Fellas, you know the drill.
Blood is also important in the way Daniel emphasizes blood relations — with all caps. He uses it to find common ground with Henry. When that common ground is revealed to be fraudulent, Daniel loses interest in Henry faster than you can say “Peachtree Dance,” unless you can say Peachtree Dance incredibly fast. For me it takes about thirty seconds. The only time Daniel shows legitimate emotion in the film is while reading his true brother’s journal, and that’s partially because the pages are made of chopped onions.
So strong is Daniel’s adherence to family ties that he doesn’t even exhibit love for his adopted son, Human Worker. Daniel is pure American ambition — he’ll exploit anything for profit, including locally sourced child labor. When HW is injured, Daniel leaves him with his friend so he can check on the old black nectar. He later tells his son he was nothing more than “a sweet face to buy land”, not even bothering to compliment him on his figure. Even after Daniel is shamed for abandoning his boy, the lingering wide shot of their reconciliation suggests it’s more about appearances than anything else.
Eli the pastor serves as Daniel’s counterpoint in the film, much like my eyebrows are the counterpoint to another set of eyebrows on the opposite end of the universe. And although Eli may seem altruistic by comparison, a closer look reveals that they are BOTH a couple of decepticons. Eli claims to be a vessel for the Holy Spirit, but it turns out he’s just as eagle testicle as Daniel. When Daniel finally gives Eli the scrilla he owes him, Eli uses it to leave town and pimp his brand instead of putting it into his church. Then, when his shit runs dry, Eli tries to blaspheme for cash. Hey, if that worked, I’d be a goddamn chamillionaire.
And indeed, their parallel confessions force these “hemoglobin homies” to come to terms with who they are: ego masquerading as a prophet, and ruthless businessman masquerading as a family guy.
But Daniel is more than just a bird’s nutsack. Thanks to blind ambition, he becomes a monster, removed from humanity. As such, There Will Be Blood can be viewed as a horror film, in the vein of The Shining or Beverly Hills Chihuahua. The dissonant score gives the film an ominous, atmospheric tone that eerily contrasts with the sunny landscapes of Southern California. Plus, there are those sickening references to food consumption.
In fact, Daniel may very well be the Devil himself. When Eli is preaching, he “siphons” the devil out of the old woman’s hands and “throws” it outside the church like a bag of old ham. As he nears the exit, the camera takes on the role of “the devil,” following him out the door like a bag of old ham. As soon as Eli says “and he left,” the camera cuts to a closeup of Daniel in the church, as if to say “he’s not really gone.” And he never will be. At least, not until the credits roll.
For Earthling Cinema, I’m Garyx Wormuloid.