Is there more than one case of blood in this Paul Thomas Anderson classic?
It’s been almost 15 years since it hit theaters and I’m still thinking about it It will be blood.
This masterpiece by Paul Thomas Anderson is as instructive today as it was then. I remember sitting in the theater wondering how violent the movie was going to get, but I was watching something reserved and confusing. It was a meditation on money, family and America.
Today I wanted to take the opportunity to look deeper into the title of the film and consider the four ways PTA has left blood all over the screen to fulfill its title’s promise.
4 ways It will be blood Fulfills its title
1. Blood of my blood
Let’s start with one of the film’s central themes, family. Some of the blood on the screen is family blood.
When we meet him, Daniel Plainview is a prospector who comes across oil instead. He quickly becomes a self-described oil man. But he realizes that the way to get oil is to attract people who let him drill on their land. After a tragic mining accident leaves a boy’s father dead, Daniel adopts the baby as his own and travels as a “family business”. He and his son HW make a name for themselves and fight with Standard Oil.
The image of a family allows him to gain trust from people. But it is also his downfall. Later, Daniel meets a supposed half-brother. Someone who claims to be related to him. We see how this blood betrays and uses him. It didn’t matter that he was lying about who he was. Daniel let blood be part of his downfall.
Later, when he chases his son out of the villa, we see that he has lost all sense of blood and is back to where he started.
2. Blood, sweat and tears
Another example of title blood comes from hard work. Daniel is literally bleeding for his cause to get rich. He digs the original mine, falls down if there is a problem, and works non-stop to become one of the richest men in America.
This one-track ghost also preoccupies him all the time. There is a burning desire in him. It flows through his veins.
3. The redeeming blood of Christ
When Daniel moves into town and meets Eli on Sunday, all he really cares about is money. Eli tries to take advantage of this with religion or the redeeming blood of Christ. Daniel also sees a conspiracy for more money. He tries unsuccessfully to buy Eli and then has to thwart him in other ways by drinking his milkshake by buying all the other farms and letting them dry.
While Eli promises redemption and forgiveness, he actually drives Daniel out … and there is real blood for that.
4. Bloody violence
At the end of the film we see Daniel and Eli compete against each other in a final showdown. Daniel chases Eli with a cone and hits his head in to deliver the blood we were promised.
But this violence is not that easy. It’s the amalgamation of all of the blood we’ve seen before. The frustrating loss of his son, the end of his career, and the rejection of Eli’s redemption and blackmail.
When Daniel kills Eli, he screams that he has become Lord and therefore that is what Eli needs to live. Instead, Daniel sheds his blood and crucifies him for the crimes of which Daniel has been guilty all along.
Do you like this analysis or do you have a different opinion? Let us know in the comments!