Update: My wife informed me this morning that lead actor Daniel Day-Lewis won the Oscar last night for best actor for his performance in this movie. While I don’t know who he was up against, he certainly did an outstanding acting job in this movie.
This being my last weekend here in Scotland, I decided to take a break from working 7 days a week and go see There Will Be Blood, the “oil movie” I have heard so much about. Yes, I know this movie has been out for a while. But it just came to Aberdeen.
Don’t read this section if you haven’t seen the movie. Just go see it.
First off, I have been misled about this movie. I had heard it was the story of an oil man and his rise from poverty to wealth and power. I saw it differently. I saw it as the story of a cruel psycopath, who happened to be an oil man. I can tell you that some oil men are actually not psychopaths. I can just see some who watched this movie and could picture this playing out in various parts of the globe: The ruthless oil man moves in and runs roughshod over everyone. Now, I know that those kinds of things have happened, but this is not normal. And it certainly isn’t normal in this day and age (although exceptions can always be found). Your typical oil man also doesn’t shoot people in the head, nor do they bludgeon people to death with bowling pins, as did the main character Daniel Plainview, played by Daniel Day-Lewis (who did some very fine acting). His character was described in a recent news story as “a raging, conniving, acquisitive petroleum pioneer caught up in California’s oil boom of the early 20th century.” Plainview’s psychotic behavior had me tense during the entire movie. You never knew when he was going to go off on someone unpredictably, and he held grudges for a long, long time.
What I did like about the movie is that it gave a good historical perspective on the early years of the oil industry. This is an inherently dangerous industry, and you saw that in the movie. You have guys out there trying to provide a living for their family – and bringing something to the market that the world depends upon – and dying in the process. And despite the fact that we have come a long, long way since then, people still die each year in this industry. This is a major reason that we have safety beaten into our heads constantly. (It can be quite a shock to go into another industry and contrast the safety precautions with those in the oil industry. In the oil industry, for instance, besides the “big stuff”, we have things drilled into us like how many people die falling out of chairs or falling down stairs each year – therefore don’t lean back in your chair and always hold the hand rail. I get several safety alerts like that every week).
Back to the movie (for a second), I constantly felt like something bad was going to happen to Plainview’s young son. I try to avoid movies where kids get hurt or killed, because I have a hard time shaking those things off. And of course something bad did happen to him, and I spent the rest of the movie thinking about tragedies involving children. I am still trying to shake off last week’s Minnesota school bus crash in which 4 kids died.
Not to get completely off topic, but is anyone else here wired like that? I noticed that once I had kids, I really had to be careful watching the news, as I found myself again and again strongly empathizing with victims and their families. It’s especially bad when I am separated from my family as I am now. The first time I really noticed this was when my daughter (first born) was only about a year old, and the Oklahoma City bombing occurred. I kept imagining the heartache everyone was going through (made worse because I am from Oklahoma and had a daughter almost exactly the same age as Baylee Almon, killed in the bombing), and it affected my sleep for a long time. After that I was always really affected by bad news involving kids – and I can rattle off one story after another. (And the reason for this digression, is these are the places my mind went after the scene in which Plainview’s son was hurt).
Anyway, after that depressing digression, I recommend the movie. See how this industry started. It is disturbing, and the psycopath angle aside, is probably an accurate reflection of the selfish and monopolistic behavior of the time (some of which carries on to the present). Of course I don’t even know if the movie is still playing widely in the U.S. It can be a while before movies from the U.S. spread around the globe. Next up, I am hoping to see Citizen Kane, followed by Gone With the Wind. Heard they are also pretty good, and looking forward to them making their way across the pond.