THERE WILL BE BLOODInspired by the first 150 pages of Upton Sinclair’s socially critical novel, “Oil!” and the biography of Californian oil magnate Edward L. Doheny (1856-1935), Paul Thomas Anderson’s film tells the story of Daniel Plainview, who sets off in search of silver in the west of America at the turn of the last century, finds oil instead, and within just a few years becomes an incredibly rich tycoon.
Plainview’s rise to power is ruthless. Making use of his little son, H. W., he manages to persuade many farmers to relinquish mining rights on their own farmland. However, this eloquent self-made man is in danger of failing when it comes to Christian fundamentalist lay preacher Eli Sunday and his family. When he finally does gain permission to drill for oil on Eli’s land, the preacher turns into a formidable opponent who tries in his overly pious sermons to put a stop to Plainview’s push to modernise the land – and even forces the cold and cynical entrepreneur to get down on his knees.
Plainview’s star begins to fall when H. W. goes deaf following an accident on a derrick tower. Having risked his life time and again in his search for black gold, and, wholly consumed by his greed, Plainview’s misanthropic personality comes increasingly to the fore until finally he does not even stop at cold-blooded murder. The price that Plainview pays for his gigantic fortune is high and, what began as the search for happiness ends in rancour and loneliness.