"Epic" is a word tossed about too freely in Hollywood today, as often used to describe films that are long and self-indulgent as those conceived and produced on an appropriately grand scale. But screenwriter and director Paul Thomas Anderson hits the bull's-eye with his haunting There Will Be Blood, in which Citizen Kane meets Days of Heaven.
The huge, resonant themes of capitalism, religion, violence, and the family are matched by the grandeur of Anderson's astonishing visuals. This movie is austere and often harsh - certainly not everyone's idea of fun. But There Will Be Blood is required viewing for anyone seriously interested in film, especially those who believe that they just don't make 'em like they used to.
It sure doesn't hurt that Daniel Day-Lewis delivers the performance of his life as an
innovative, murderous oilman in turn-of-the-century California. His only onscreen equal here - and in effect, his co-star - is the gorgeous, endless land pillaged by his character. The last vestiges of the American frontier are captured with eloquent beauty by Anderson's regular cinematographer, Robert Elswit.
The careful compositions and fine detail of Elswit's images are rendered perfectly on this DVD. From the vast deserts to the man-made violence of the oilfields, the American landscape here is intended to come across as a visceral experience, meant to be felt as much as seen. A lesser transfer would have proved disastrous. Meanwhile, the sound is crisp, with long stretches of silence balanced nicely by an angular and ominous score by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood.
In this Collector's Edition, the second disc's package of extras is briefer than most - but on any Disc 2, it's quality that counts, not quantity. And these extras are a breath of fresh air in terms of both their content and their elegant, promotion-free presentation. The anchor is a revealing 1923 artifact called The Story of Petroleum, a silent 26-minute documentary (with a new Greenwood score) created by the U.S. Bureau of Mines and the Sinclair Oil Company to launch a major public-relations effort for the oil industry. And a 15-minute documentary intercuts vintage photographs and film clips with scenes from the movie, illuminating its visual authenticity. Trailers and brief deleted scenes round out the set, which is packaged in a classy paper sleeve clearly inspired by a vinyl LP jacket. Bravo!
Copyright © 2013 Bonnier Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.