Thursday, March 27, 2008

There Will Be Blood

I greatly enjoyed the movie that I attended with Dr. Webber and other members of the class. It tells the story of a miner who becomes an extremely wealthy oil man – but at a great cost. I had expected the movie to be more “preachy,” criticizing capitalism or oil directly. Instead, I feel old fashioned greed was an underlying theme. Daniel, the miner, lives a generally solitary (his only companion his adopted son) life as he pursues his goals without hindrance until he crosses paths with another ambitious man, Eli. Eli’s choice of profession – preacher – helps create an interesting rival for Daniel. Under the guise of helping his church, Eli quietly torments Daniel throughout the movie.

I appreciated the slow(ish) pace and that the movie was “quiet.” Many other movies (including really good ones like “The Kingdom”) are full of explosions, yelling and sometimes unnecessary complications. I felt that the characters and their respective situations drove the pace of the movie and carried the weight that “action” usually pulls. The quality of acting went a long way in helping me understand the attraction of the lifestyle that most of the oil pioneers lived. I felt a rush when they struck oil and felt the sense of power that came with possibilities that oil brought. I think there must have been more than money motivating these people to take the risks they did.

Oil represented possibilities beyond riches to people. There was an opportunity to play a role in building up a relatively very new nation – a country with unsure borders that was still seen as full of endless possibilities. Oil gave the common person a chance to take part in this, to support industry growth and fuel inventions to better everyone’s lives. Daniel was consumed by his greed, but I think many other people in his position survived oil prospecting with their kindness intact – take Rockefeller whom we heard about in lecture.

The movie begins with the scene of the death of one oil working and continues with scenes of hardship and more death. We see how hard people had to work to make our lives the way they are (for better and worse). I have to wonder how many of them could really understand how far-reaching an impact oil would have. As we all know, it’s more than a fuel. It means medication, health care, food...And it’s what ultimately allowed for the advances in technology that we have. For all the bad we see in oil now, I think it is important to remember that we owe it a lot. Personally, I don’t believe we could possibly have made the advances we have as quickly as we have without oil (and coal…). Though I do think it’s time to move on.


Amanda Cuellar said...

The most recent energy related movie that I've seen was There Will Be Blood. Overall, I felt that this movie was a bit simplistic with the greedy oil man and the greedy preacher fighting over who climbs higher in terms of income and power. Though in this movie Daniel is an oil man I feel that he could have just as easily been a gangster, a drug runner, or a corrupt public official. I think it's interesting that energy tycoon's have fallen to the moral level of criminal's in the public's mind. Perhaps the now obvious association between the oil business and the destruction of the environment and our increasing feeling that we're being swindled by greedy oil companies have led the public to equate the energy industry with corrupt gangsters. Or maybe they've just earned this association...

Alix Broadfoot said...

I just finished watching There Will Be Blood. It was a pretty good movie, and it definitely kept me interested. The character Daniel was very interesting. I felt it hard to relate or connect with him in the movie. His greedy nature was so intense to me, and he really only cared about his own person advances. He went to such strong measures to hurt those who got in his way - including his own son. I watched the movie and left thinking what did I like about that man? and it's really hard to think of something.

I think its really easy to think about the oil industry in the same light today. Its very easy to blame the big bad oil man, but today is somewhat different because we're just as bad for demanding so much oil. I don't think we can just move on, we have to grow in our practices.

On another note, I think the slow, quiet, simple nature of the movie you talk about was a good reflection of the time. I enjoyed seeing the evolution of technology and how things scaled up in the oil production as Daniel's business grew. It was fun to see how the oil production worked. The story wasn't my favorite, but like I said it kept me interested.