There Will Be Blood: Two-Disc Collector’s Edition (Paramount, 2007) D: Paul Thomas Anderson w/ Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NNN
I’ve seldom seen an extras package work so well to flesh out a movie. That’s because, though There Will Be Blood looks like an epic and comes from a muckraking social issues novel (Upton Sinclair’s 1927 Oil), it’s actually a psychodrama. We’re locked into Daniel Plainview’s head from beginning to end. The events, landscape and other characters exist only to illuminate his inner world.
Plainview is an oilman who wanders Texas with his young son, buying land and drilling. Along the way, he earns the hatred of a small-time preacher, his son goes deaf in a well explosion, and he gains a brother he didn’t know he had. In the end, he gets rich enough to live out the dream that’s driven him all these years.
At 158 minutes, a one-character drama like this shouldn’t work. That it does is a tribute to director Paul Thomas Anderson’s composition, pacing and selection of background faces and to Jonny Greenwood’s sparse suspense-movie score.
Mostly, though, it’s because of Daniel Day-Lewis’s intense focus and deft line delivery, which keep us hooked on learning more about the enigmatic Plainview.
Disc two provides a 1920s documentary on how the oil industry functions. It’s fun, educational and delivers a (sanitized) feel for the social setting that the movie lacks. An extensive selection of period photographs used to research the movie demonstrates the tight connection between fiction and historical fact. Finally, an extensive deleted scene, Fishing, opens a welcome window on Plainview’s character.
EXTRAS Disc one: Widescreen. English, French, Spanish audio and subtitles. Disc two: Research photos, two deleted scenes, outtake, The Story Of Petroleum. Widescreen and full-frame, colour, b&w.