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View Full Version : Qestions about There Will Be Blood (open spoilers)


Rubystreak
04-09-2008, 10:59 PM
I just watched There Will Be Blood for the first time. Overall, I thought it was excellent, but I'm left with a few questions. I read the other thread and would have resurrected it but wasn't sure if it was too old, so here's a shiny new one.

My questions:

1. Was Daniel Plainview's distinctive accent supposed to be regional, from where he came from in Fond du Lac? No one else in the movie, even his "brother" Henry, had that over-enunciated diction. Like others mentioned, it did remind me of classic movie actors like Huston, John Wayne, and Jimmy Stewart, but I wondered if someone, somewhere in America ever really spoke that way.

2. Why did PTA choose to have Plainview kill Eli in his private bowling alley? That was just... weird, and seemed like a rare off-note in the film for me. It was just so random and kind of... funny? Not ha-ha funny but, well maybe you know what I mean. I thought it would have been more thematically fitting if he'd killed him with one of those pins they use to bust open a well site (like the one that killed the guy in the well at the Sunday ranch). Or just kicked him to death. But a bowling pin?

3. Also, why the heck did Eli seem not to have aged at all by 1927? That seemed like a styling misstep, unless there was a reason for it that I missed. It was kind of jarring.

4. Why was the Bandy proprety still in play after all these years? Did Eli really, seriously think he could blackmail Plainview, who was obvious already rich beyond his wildest dreams, with that last little tidbit? Stupid move. Unless, of course, I missed something there.

5. Where are people getting this idea that Plainview never loved HW? The scene at the beginning, on the train, where the baby reaches up to touch his face, where Plainview leans into the child's hand and then closes his eyes... that was love. That was before he "needed" a shill or a front family. There is no doubt in my mind that there was, at least when Plainview had some bit of sanity left, love in there for HW.

I think he left HW on the train for the deaf school like that because he, Daniel, could not bear to leave him. And at the end, when the roles are reversed and he is the one being left, he throws the exact same tantrum that HW threw when he was abadoned. That, to me, was the tragedy, that he just could not handle loving and being loved, with its various comings and goings. It made him feel vulnerable and weak, which in turn made him crazy. He seemed like someone who had never been loved, and so his practice of it was screwed up.

6. Allegorically, what is being said by the way Plainview kills Eil. Capitalism destroys false religious? There is no god except Mammon? Am I making too much of this idea?

Maybe, if this thread actually goes somewhere, other questions will occur to me. I must take some time think further on its deep mysteries, and possibly watch it again.

Count me in the camp of, loved the soundtrack.

Argent Towers
04-09-2008, 11:08 PM
I just started a thread about this (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=463256) some minutes ago. A moderator should merge these threads together or something.

Plainview's accent sounded like his accent in Gangs of New York. I think it was just a very over stylized accent, but I guess it's conceivable that Plainview was the child of English immigrants and picked up that accent from his parents.

The scene in the bowling alley, I think, was not supposed to be symbolic, it was just supposed to be distinctive. And also emphasize how rich he had gotten, that he was able to have a private bowling alley in his house.

Daniel definitely loved H.W. Up until the point when he lost his hearing, he was a very good father and very caring. When his son went deaf, his not knowing how to handle it and the resulting frustration and anguish from that situation was, I think, the first step towards him becoming embittered and hateful.

lissener
04-09-2008, 11:14 PM
I just watched There Will Be Blood for the first time. Overall, I thought it was excellent, but I'm left with a few questions. I read the other thread and would have resurrected it but wasn't sure if it was too old, so here's a shiny new one.

My questions:

1. Was Daniel Plainview's distinctive accent supposed to be regional, from where he came from in Fond du Lac? No one else in the movie, even his "brother" Henry, had that over-enunciated diction. Like others mentioned, it did remind me of classic movie actors like Huston, John Wayne, and Jimmy Stewart, but I wondered if someone, somewhere in America ever really spoke that way.It was distinctly not a Fond du Lac accent. It seemed pretty clearly, to me, modeled on John Huston's manner of speaking. (Huston was from Missouri, but I feel pretty certain his "accent" is of his own invention.

2. Why did PTA choose to have Plainview kill Eli in his private bowling alley? That was just... weird, and seemed like a rare off-note in the film for me. It was just so random and kind of... funny? Not ha-ha funny but, well maybe you know what I mean. I thought it would have been more thematically fitting if he'd killed him with one of those pins they use to bust open a well site (like the one that killed the guy in the well at the Sunday ranch). Or just kicked him to death. But a bowling pin? Dunno. Anyone read the book?

3. Also, why the heck did Eli seem not to have aged at all by 1927? That seemed like a styling misstep, unless there was a reason for it that I missed. It was kind of jarring.I agree; that distracted me at that point too.

4. Why was the Bandy proprety still in play after all these years? Did Eli really, seriously think he could blackmail Plainview, who was obvious already rich beyond his wildest dreams, with that last little tidbit? Stupid move. Unless, of course, I missed something there.Dunno; that point didn't particularly bother me.

5. Where are people getting this idea that Plainview never loved HW? The scene at the beginning, on the train, where the baby reaches up to touch his face, where Plainview leans into the child's hand and then closes his eyes... that was love. That was before he "needed" a shill or a front family. There is no doubt in my mind that there was, at least when Plainview had some bit of sanity left, love in there for HW.

I think he left HW on the train for the deaf school like that because he, Daniel, could not bear to leave him. And at the end, when the roles are reversed and he is the one being left, he throws the exact same tantrum that HW threw when he was abadoned. That, to me, was the tragedy, that he just could not handle loving and being loved, with its various comings and goings. It made him feel vulnerable and weak, which in turn made him crazy. He seemed like someone who had never been loved, and so his practice of it was screwed up.I agree; the "father"/"son" relationship of those two characters, and the changes it went through, is one of the problems I have with the movie.

6. Allegorically, what is being said by the way Plainview kills Eil. Capitalism destroys false religious? There is no god except Mammon? Am I making too much of this idea?Perhaps. PTA is not afeerd of allegory, but I'm not gonna twist a braincell trying to make that last bit fit.

Maybe, if this thread actually goes somewhere, other questions will occur to me. I must take some time think further on its deep mysteries, and possibly watch it again.

Count me in the camp of, loved the soundtrack.I liked the soundtrack a lot, as music; I haven't decided yet if it succeeded as a movie score.

Argent Towers
04-09-2008, 11:16 PM
Here, I'll just post what I posted in the other thread:

1. Johnny Greenwood's score is really fantastic. I know everyone has said it already but I just want to repeat it. The dissonant, out-of-tune strings add SO much tension and a sense of uneasiness to the whole movie. A really unique, revolutionary soundtrack like nothing else I've ever heard. If I had to compare it to something, it would be Howard Shore's score for Crash (the 1996 one.)

2. Daniel Plainview is one of the great characters of all time. He is truly dynamic and multidimensional. In the first half of the movie, he is a pretty likeable character. He's hardworking, seems to really be a caring father, and though he uses some weasely tactics to get people to sell their land to him, his promises of prosperity are believable and seem sincere. After his son loses his hearing, he grows more and more bitter, eventually withdrawing into his lavish mansion and hiding from the outside world, similar to Citizen Kane or Howard Hughes in The Aviator.

3. Another interesting thing about Plainview is that he seems to live for only one thing: success at the expense of everyone and everything that might stand in his way. A strange side effect of this is that he comes across as almost non-sexual. Eli accuses him of "lusting after women" at the end of the movie but there's actually no evidence that he ever did that. He's never shown having anything to do with women during the entire movie. He came to have a son through adoption and not through a wife. For all we know, he's never even been laid. He just doesn't seem to have any interest in sex.

4. Is the name "Plainview" symbolic? As in, he has a plain view of life, caring only about making money above everything else?

Any other thoughts about this movie?

Soapbox Monkey
04-09-2008, 11:40 PM
4. Why was the Bandy proprety still in play after all these years? Did Eli really, seriously think he could blackmail Plainview, who was obvious already rich beyond his wildest dreams, with that last little tidbit? Stupid move. Unless, of course, I missed something there.

Eli was unaware of the concept of drainage, and so he figured that there were untapped pockets of oil under the Bandy tract. After he breaks down, he admits that he's also in some serious financial trouble.

His whole offer to Daniel to drill on the Bandy tract was him putting on his game face, hoping to get the better of the old, wealthy-beyond-his-needs drunkard that Daniel had become. What makes the ending so satisfying is that it was a complete victory for Plainview over Eli. First he beats him spiritually, then emotionally/mentally, and as a coup de grace he bludgeons him with a bowling pin.

Menocchio
04-09-2008, 11:59 PM
I loved this film. I think it may be the best film I've ever seen.

2. Why did PTA choose to have Plainview kill Eli in his private bowling alley? That was just... weird, and seemed like a rare off-note in the film for me. It was just so random and kind of... funny? Not ha-ha funny but, well maybe you know what I mean. I thought it would have been more thematically fitting if he'd killed him with one of those pins they use to bust open a well site (like the one that killed the guy in the well at the Sunday ranch). Or just kicked him to death. But a bowling pin? Because it was surreal and darky funny, like you said. A private bowling alley is a funny thing to have in a house. Also, there's the visual pun where Eli finds Daniel drunk and lying in the gutter.

3. Also, why the heck did Eli seem not to have aged at all by 1927? That seemed like a styling misstep, unless there was a reason for it that I missed. It was kind of jarring. I think PTA simply thought he could get away with it. HW grew from a child to a man, Daniel aged past his prime, both easy transitions to sell. Eli was old enough to not mature, but still too young to bring in the obvious signs of aging. His new clothes and status communicated the passage of time for him well enough, I thought.

4. Why was the Bandy proprety still in play after all these years? Did Eli really, seriously think he could blackmail Plainview, who was obvious already rich beyond his wildest dreams, with that last little tidbit? Stupid move. Unless, of course, I missed something there. Bandy died. His grandson wanted to be an actor and either sold the property to Eli or was letting Eli handle it. It wasn't blackmail, so much as Eli assumed he had something he knew Daniel would pay top dollar for. As he said, it was the last untapped land in the oil field. It felt like blackmail, because Eli had previously blackmailed Daniel over that land, and Eli had come across Daniel in an apparent state of total weakness.

5. Where are people getting this idea that Plainview never loved HW? Mostly because that's what the character said. And he certainly did use HW as a prop for his business. Also, Daniel is such a bastard that we must doubt if he's capable of love at all. I do agree with you though.

6. Allegorically, what is being said by the way Plainview kills Eil. Capitalism destroys false religious? There is no god except Mammon? Am I making too much of this idea?
Something like that. I don't know how much we're meant to accept Eli and Daniel as direct allegories for religion and capitalism, though there's definitely some of the going on. They're also characters in their own rights. I think the message is that while religion may be empty, capitalism has no soul. Perhaps that capitalism can, and in fact will kill religion, but in doing so will destroy itself. "I'm finished", says Daniel Plainview.

Rocketeer
04-10-2008, 09:29 AM
Also, there's the visual pun where Eli finds Daniel drunk and lying in the gutter.



:smack:

MovieMogul
04-10-2008, 10:44 AM
3. Also, why the heck did Eli seem not to have aged at all by 1927? That seemed like a styling misstep, unless there was a reason for it that I missed. It was kind of jarring.I didn't have too big a problem about this. If Eli is, say, 14 when we first meet him, it wouldn't be too surprising if he looked remarkably similiar (and youthful) at 34. I've known "baby faces" whose features still haven't changed too demonstrably since their adolescence.4. Why was the Bandy proprety still in play after all these years? Did Eli really, seriously think he could blackmail Plainview, who was obvious already rich beyond his wildest dreams, with that last little tidbit? Stupid move. Unless, of course, I missed something there.Remember Bandy wouldn't let Daniel drill on the land, but Eli knew Daniel would jump at any opportunity to exploit the property further (though Eli didn't realize Daniel had already drunk his milkshake).5. Where are people getting this idea that Plainview never loved HW? The scene at the beginning, on the train, where the baby reaches up to touch his face, where Plainview leans into the child's hand and then closes his eyes... that was love. That was before he "needed" a shill or a front family. There is no doubt in my mind that there was, at least when Plainview had some bit of sanity left, love in there for HW.In the final brief flashback montage of HW when he's younger (consisting of material we hadn't even seen previously in the movie), we are shown that they did have a warm, familial relationship. But distance and deafness accelerated the alienation between the two to the point Daniel has to renounce his son--because he would otherwise have to acknowledge his failure as a father.6. Allegorically, what is being said by the way Plainview kills Eil. Capitalism destroys false religious? There is no god except Mammon? Am I making too much of this idea?Daniel may be the last one standing, but it's a rather hollow victory, since I think he finds little satisfaction in being a murderous, drunken, crazy recluse.

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