"The fact that we can think with certain films, and not simply about them, is the irrefutable sign of their value" - Nicole Brenez

Sunday, 6 April 2014

"LOUDER THAN WORDS" by Sam Kiranga

Louder than words

Actions speak louder than words. That is precisely the working mantra behind the 2008 Academy award winner for Best Motion Picture, "There Will be Blood". The film is set in late 19th Century Little Boston, California. Within the first fourteen minutes it allows us to grasp what will continue to be the premise of every conflict that ensues in the film from then on. Throughout these first fourteen minutes no word is uttered by the cast and in fact the first human sound we hear is that of a crying child, bringing to life the main narrative.

Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day Lewis), the main character in "There Will Be Blood" is on the hunt for a massive trail of oil that lurks beneath Little Boston’s crust. He uses his shrewd tongue and fatherly image to win the support and trust of Little Boston’s humble folk. But when one young Paul Sunday comes to him with news of an oil deposit that lay under his father’s farm, his eyes turn towards this new opportunity with a thinly deviced plan that could possibly make him a fortune. The only problem is that the very source of his new oil has a twin brother who becomes the cause of all of Daniel’s future problems.

Though based on a 1927 novel, the film’s lively, fast-paced directorial method and its refined script place it as an extremely exceptional film in this day and age. The script in particular is written to vividly colour each character in his true light. Plainview’s punchy speeches to the people of Little Boston, picking on every single word they would love to hear, testifies to the manipulative nature he has developed as a businessman. He is also thoroughly protective about his past and strives to make it very clear when he does not wish to reveal it as in the case when Henry questions him about his wife.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s sharp and economical directing technique keeps the mind occupied with the well-knitted sequences and the fascinating saga they unravel. Coupled with a powerful score, each scene builds the tension between the power hungry Plainview and the religiously devout Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) to a foreseeable climax. In a series of unprecedented events, the two enemies find themselves crossing paths time and time again as they seek to achieve their own contrasting ends.

Daniel Day Lewis’s impersonation of Daniel Plainview is one that will go down in film history as a template for proper acting in a lead role. It also justifies the chain of awards he won at all prominent film award ceremonies in 2008. Having seen him in Lincoln personifying one of the greatest and noblest presidents that America has known, it took a while for me to identify him as the same man behind Daniel Plainview’s ‘evil carnival’ character. This has more to do with the extreme polarity between these two roles and the fact that he has perfectly switched his act to showcase something quite the opposite of what he played in Lincoln. Paul Dano has over the years perfected an acute finesse for playing the part of a half demented, half soft spoken country boy. This film gives his talent the perfect opportunity to bloom in regard to the role accorded to him. His ability to traverse the personality boundaries of Eli Sunday - a fiery preacher, a mild mannered son and a scheming hypocrite - speaks volumes about his innate acting ability.

The final clash between both lead actors proves to be a climatic tussle between two forces in the world that govern mankind’s greatest values; money and religion. Both Daniel Plainview and Eli Sunday have used one of these two forces to gain power and control their fellow countrymen. At last when their paths of influence fail to agree, a titanic rivalry becomes inevitable and one man has to fall.

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