Oil that is, black gold, Texas T"
On my walk in this morning my thoughts turned once again to There Will Be Blood, the magnificent film on general release at the mo'. Mostly excellent feedback but I've heard a few voices moaning that it is overrated or indeed one of our customers today who thought it just boring. An incomprehensible response I must say.
Anyway, I was thinking again about the film and it occured to me just how funny it is. Yes, bleak and disturbing and violent and insane but also very, very funny in a drily absurdist sense that reflects the total absurdity of Daniel Plainview's exercise. Some of Daniel Day Lewis's faces and gurns and poses are blackly amusing and not, I think, unintended on the part of the director and actor.
This struck me when thinking about the scene where Plainview and his boy HW are out 'hunting quail' on the Sunday ranch when actually looking for oil. The part where they are firing their guns at the ground and then find some oil on the surface really reminded me of the opening credits of the Beverly Hillbillies where Jed Clampett also finds oil which leads him to a mansion in California much as Plainview's discovery leads him to a similar mansion only in a much darker place. I don't think echoes like these are an accident. Knowing Paul Thomas Anderson's previous work I think he would only be all to aware of the imagery and would consciously use the theme as a reflection on the American dream and where it would lead.
The marvelous thing about this film is that in an age where 'What's it all about then?' is usually reduced to the length of a blog post or newspaper review we have a film that absolutely refuses to be contained in such a way. It twists and turns and reveals its complex layers on each richly rewarded re-viewing. Can't praise it highly enough although my film companion does think I'm becoming a little obsessive. (I could bore you with my thoughts on the framing devices in the cinematography but maybe that's another post on another blog).
Go and see it. Atleast three times.