‘There will be blood’ is a chilling movie with razor-sharp editing and creative direction. The sound engineering in this movie is of special mention and the makers of the movie tell us the gruesome tale of vengeance, greed, and violence with wonderful camerawork. However, the best aspect of this movie is its cinematography by Robert Elswit (Lamb, 2010).
The movie is shot in warm colors to depict the bright sunlight of South California. Apart from the night scenes which are shot in bright colors, most of the movie is rich from the perspective of color pallet with occasional abundance of white and relative over exposure. One of the most chilling scenes of the movie is the fire scene in night. While doing so the sound engineering evokes a squeaking sound as the fire spreads all over the house and it really sends a chill down the spine.
However, the credit of this chill is as relevant to the direction and screenplay as it is to sound engineering. The way this scene was shot was the main element of this horror. It was shot in low light with fast deep close-ups followed by fast and panning long shots. The darkness of the scene made the horrifying along with the sound as if the audience can feel the forthcoming shocking greed and violence and this was the exact intension of the directors.
Another important shot was the discovery of oil in the middle of the desert. It was shot in broad daylight with brightness all over the screen but the particular scene that depicts the incretion of the spike into the oil rich mud is shot in dark with provocative bright shades of grey. Yet the posture of the spike shown in the scene makes a very uneasy feeling with the oil gushing out of the earth like blood. The director makes a long shot from the point of view of the protagonist. The camera glides to the site of the oil well and reactions of the characters on finding oil, as if the audience were actually part of the protagonist’s entity. This method makes the audience feel that they are actually in the site of well and this technique of filming makes the suspense grow with more purity.
The use of white light, especially in the vengeance scene in the church is really effective. These effective measures of lighting can be seen in many action scenes that can be termed as “save-your-life scene” and in these scenes the cinematographer emotes in a never seen before manner. Daniel Day Lewis as the protagonist makes such a voice and shows such a masterful facial expression, one can think that his Academy Award winning performance earlier was just an exercise of his craftsmanship.
The most striking feature of the movie is the use of silence to create the tension in the film. The director-due efficiently handles silence to mount tension in the film, which in points reach to unbearable levels. In the scene of Daniel Day Lewis waiting in darkness after the accident has all the qualities of becoming one of the greatest movie scenes of all time. The silence helps to give the movie the pace it needed. Robert Elswit is a master cinematographer and he is in the top of his game in ‘There will be blood’.
The charred corpse scene and following visual elements are one of the highlights of the film. The West is a lonely world with miles after miles of barren land, scorching in sunlight in the morning and soaked in darkness in the evening and he transports the landscape to our minds with every scene of the film. A lot of scenes are in the desert and the isolation of the characters is captured brilliantly in the scenes.
But, the movie belongs to Daniel Day Lewis. His Plainview is the vengeance of will, and as a killer his character is an important movie screen that presents a chilling experience by the audience. He creates Plainview with outstanding effects, with stone cold eyes while killing, and horrific professionalism in prospecting, and it can be believed that the character may be lethal as it has such less connection with common human life. The mis-en-scenes of the film can be worth remembering for a long time.
Actually according to me, this is a morality play in a sense. Here Plainview, the killer, is doing his job with utter truthfulness. All these scenes, specifically, are taken in mid or close shots, thereby making the audience feel that they are actually living the story. However, there is a criticism about the film. The film loses itself at the point of denouement. After creating such a class of work, the last twenty minutes of the film are shattered and looked as if the scenes are made up only to give satisfactory conclusions for all the characters of the film. In the final analysis, this film is nothing less than a classic. Though the career of Robert Elswit is filled with a number of successes, ‘There will be blood’ is their greatest achievement till date. It is film-making at its very best.
Lamb, D. (2010). The Best of Hollywood: 2000-2009. Auckland: IPCL Press.