There Will Be Blood

In my original review of There Will Be Blood, I mentioned how odd it was that a film which shuns being entertaining is so engrossing. Sucking the viewer in is the narcissistic and anti-social personality of oilman, Daniel Plainview. This of course arises from Daniel Day-Lewis’s Oscar winning acting. It’s a great historical piece about two men vying for power and wealth through oil. Two versions are on DVD. A single-disc and this two-disc edition.

It’s not “packed”, but this high quality release has the best presentation of the big Oscar winners. The B/W photo of Daniel Day-Lewis on the outside front cover looks positively antique. The inside box resembles an old leather Bible which opens, revealing a large photo of Daniel Plainview, H.W. Plainview, and Eli Sunday. I like how the two discs are inserted behind the two younger men’s heads mimicking their relationship to Plainview. There’s also a page from Upton Sinclair’s Oil! which the movie was partly based on.

There Will Be Blood contains more extras than big films of 2007, like No Country for Old Men and Atonement. Those releases were disappointing. Don’t expect a long list of features here, either. You get an hour’s worth of the essentials. But almost all are worth watching. The set focuses mainly on two long segments which tie the history of the oil industry to the movie.

The Story of Petroleum is a silent documentary made in 1923 by the U.S Department of the Interior and the Sinclair Oil Company. It describes how oil is discovered and turned into products used around the home. What’s funny to note is that though this is a government film, no other oil companies are mentioned besides Sinclair.

15 Minutes – Pics, Research, Etc. for the Making of There Will Be Blood is basically a Ken Burns style documentary without narration. A montage of photos, newspaper clippings, and old film footage alternate with scenes from the movie. It’s fascinating for showing early 20th century rural America and how oil drilling destroys the landscape.

The “Fishing” Sequence is a deleted scene that shows the oil workers literally fishing for lost drilling tools. Abel Sunday accuses Daniel Plainview of backsliding on the drilling contract and informs him that only by joining the church will he find the tools and begin pumping the oil. The extra scene is unnecessary for various reasons, but at least Ciaran Hinds(HBO’s Rome) gets more screen time as Plainview’s lieutenant, Fletcher Hamilton.

“Haircut / Interrupted Hymn” is another deleted scene. H.W cuts his father’s hair and accidentally nicks his neck. Rather than blame his son, Plainview claims it’s his fault. He may also be apologizing for the oil well accident that deafened H.W. It ends with Plainview abandoning his son on the train. The train part seems different than I remember in the original movie. His face appears more contorted and he seems more distraught about his decision. This scene maybe slowed down the pacing, but it shows more of Plainview losing his humanity.

Dailies Gone Wild is the weak part. It’s an outtake of Plainview with his son gloating to the Standard Oil salesmen about his new oil pipeline. As a gag reel it sucks, frankly because none of the actors really messes up. They just laugh at the very end. Sorry, Daniel Day-Lewis really is perfect.

Ironically There Will Be Blood , despite having the least box-office potential of 2007, gets a great total package. Production information is lacking, but you learn a lot about oil drilling. Watch and laugh at footage of a worker lighting a pipe full of nitroglycerin with a cigarette and throwing it down an oil well.

Jonny Greenwood’s score plays during the features. If you hated it the first time, no one was listening. I can’t get enough of the wonderful overall design of this release, even small details like the museum font used on the menu options. The rough texture of the box reminds me of the raw emotions of the film. Paramount deserves credit for releasing a DVD that looks good on a shelf as well as on a television set.

The Upside: I love the package design. I drink it up! Finally, an Oscar 2007 spotlight movie that has quality special features.

The Downside: Almost no detail about the film’s production or behind-the-scenes trivia. The movie’s score gets a little annoying outside the plot.

On The Side: They interviewed no one involved on this movie and it has more than the frickin trailer on the DVD.

Grade: A-


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