Skip to content

There Will Be Blood

September 1, 2015

TWBBEpic struggles between material greed and religiosity; family fortunes with a hefty dose of manipulation thrown in.

Themes: power, ambition, anger, disappointment, faith.

A story of family, religion, hatred, oil and madness, focusing on a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business.

Have you ever worked for a hypocrite – in with his church but treating his staff like dirt? I have, and this film reminded me of it and left a bad taste.

The film follows the rise to power of Daniel Plainview – a charismatic and ruthless oil prospector, driven to succeed by his intense hatred of others and desperate need to see any and all competitors fail. When he learns of oil-rich land in California that can be bought cheaply, he moves his operation there and begins manipulating and exploiting the local landowners into selling him their property. Using his young adopted son H.W. to project the image of a caring family man, Plainview gains the cooperation of almost all the locals with lofty promises to build schools and cultivate the land to make their community flourish. Over time, Plainview’s gradual accumulation of wealth and power causes his true self to surface, and he begins to slowly alienate himself from everyone in his life.

Daniel Plainview bears some resemblance to a real, early twentieth-century California oil tycoon named Edward L. Doheny. Both were from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin; both were employed by Geological Survey and worked in Kansas; both tried a hand at mining before going into the oil business; and both worked with a fellow prospector named “H. B. Ailman.” As for other Plainview-Doheny connections, the bowling alley scene in ‘There Will Be Blood’ was filmed at Greystone Manor, a California estate Doheny built as a present for his only son. Also interestingly, the infamous “milk-shake speech” Plainview gives is based on transcripts of congressive hearings concerning the Teapot Dome Scandal, in which the very same Edward L. Doheny had been accused of bribing a political official.

Several characters seen or mentioned in ‘There Will Be Blood’ seem to have been based on historical figures. Though his name is never spoken during the film, Plainview’s business partner H. B. Ailman shares the name of an actual prospector and oil man who was active during the turn of the century and associates with oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny, on whom Daniel Plainview seems to have been partly based. The two Standard Oil representatives “H. M. Tilford” and “J. J. Carter” who meet with Plainview are based on historical oil men: Henry Morgan Tilford was once vice-president of the Standard Oil Company during the turn of the century, while John Joyce Carter’s Carter Oil Company was incorporated and subsidized by Standard Oil (New Jersey) in the 1890s. At one point in the film, the name “A. C. Maude” is stated as a property holder in Little Boston; the actual A. C. Maude was a prominent community member of Bakersfield, California during the late 1800s; Bakersfield is located in Kern County, where over 80% of California’s oil wells are found. The name “Redlick” is also stated as a Little Boston property holder; Joseph Redlick was also a prominent community member of Bakersfield during the early 1900s.

Two traditional Christian hymns are heard during the film, both sung by Eli Sunday’s Little Boston congregation. The first is “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” which is heard preceding the scene in which Eli tells Plainview he will bless the oil well. The second is “There is Power in the Blood” which is sung immediately after Plainview’s baptism.

During the 1927 wedding scene of H. W. Plainview and Mary Sunday, the Priest is heard reciting the Biblical story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. His quotations are from the book of John, chapter four, verses 14-15, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, ‘Sir, give me this water, that I [shall] thirst not, neither come hither to draw.'”

Eli Sunday: Why are you talking about Paul?

Plainview: I did what your brother couldn’t.

Eli Sunday: Don’t say this to me.

Plainview: I broke you and I beat you. It was Paul who told me about you. He’s the prophet. He’s the smart one. He knew what was there and he found me to take it out of the ground, and you know what the funny thing is? Listen… listen… listen… I paid him ten thousand dollars, cash in hand, just like that. He has his own company now. A prosperous little business. Three wells producing. Five thousand dollars a week.

[Eli cries]

Plainview: Stop crying, you sniveling ass! Stop your nonsense. You’re just the afterbirth, Eli.

Eli Sunday: No…

Plainview: You slithered out of your mother’s filth.

Eli Sunday: No.

Plainview: They should have put you in a glass jar on a mantlepiece. Where were you when Paul was suckling at his mother’s teat? Where were you? Who was nursing you, poor Eli? One of Bandy’s sows? That land has been had. Nothing you can do about it. It’s gone. It’s had.

Eli Sunday: If you would just take…

Plainview: You lose.

Eli Sunday: …this lease, Daniel…

Plainview: Drainage! Drainage, Eli, you boy. Drained dry. I’m so sorry. Here, if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. There it is, that’s a straw, you see? Watch it. Now, my straw reaches acroooooooss the room and starts to drink your milkshake. I… drink… your… milkshake!

[sucking sound]

Plainview: I drink it up!

Eli Sunday: Don’t bully me, Daniel!

[Daniel roars and throws Eli across the room]

Plainview: Did you think your song and dance and your superstition would help you, Eli? I am the Third Revelation! I am who the Lord has chosen!

[last lines]

Plainview: Ladies and gentlemen… I’ve traveled over half our state to be here tonight. I couldn’t get away sooner because my new well was coming in at Coyote Hills and I had to see about it. That well is now flowing at two thousand barrels and it’s paying me an income of five thousand dollars a week. I have two others drilling and I have sixteen producing at Antelope; so, ladies and gentlemen, if I say I’m an oil man, you will agree. Now, you have a great chance here, but bear in mind, you can lose it all if you’re not careful. Out of all men that beg for a chance to drill your lots, maybe one in twenty will be oilmen; the rest will be speculators – that’s men trying to get between you and the oilmen – to get some of the money that ought by rights come to you. Even if you find one that has money and means to drill, he’ll maybe know nothing about drilling and he’ll have to hire the job out on contract, and then you’re depending on a contractor who’ll rush the job through so he can get another contract just as quick as he can. This is… the way that this works.

Man: Well, what is your offer? W-w-we’re wasting time.

[crowd responds: “Yes.” “Please.”]

Plainview: I do my own drilling, and the men that work for me work for me. and they’re men I know. I make it my business to be there and to see their work. I don’t lose my tools in the hole and spend months fishing for them; I don’t botch the cementing off and let water in the hole and ruin the whole lease. I’m a family man. I run a family business. This is my son and my partner, H.W. Plainview.

[indicates H.W]

Plainview: We offer you the bond of family that very few oilmen can understand. I’m fixed like no other company in this field and that’s because my Coyote Hills well has just come in. I have a string of tools all ready to put to work. I can load a rig onto trucks and have them here in a week. I have business connections so I can get the lumber for the derrick – such things go by friendship in a rush like this – and this is why I can guarantee to start drilling and to put up the cash to back my word. I assure you, ladies and gentlemen, no matter what the others promise to do, when it comes to the showdown, they won’t be there.

Paul Sunday: Mr. Plainview?

Plainview: Yes?

Paul Sunday: Are you Daniel Plainview?

Plainview: Yes. What can I do for you?

Paul Sunday: You look for oil.

Plainview: That’s right.

Paul Sunday: What do you pay for a place that has it?

Plainview: Well, that depends.

Paul Sunday: What does it depend on?

Plainview: On a lot of things.

Paul Sunday: If I told you I knew a place that had oil, where land could be bought cheaply, what do you think that would be worth?

Plainview: Oh, I think that, uh… you should let me know what you know, and, uh, and then we’ll try and work something out.

Paul Sunday: Can I sit down?

Plainview: Please.

Paul Sunday: [Paul sits] What church do you belong to?

Plainview: I, um… I enjoy all faiths. I don’t belong to one church in particular. I… I like them all. I like everything. Where are you from?

Paul Sunday: That would be telling you. That’s what I want to sell you.

Plainview: What are you doing in Signal Hill?

Paul Sunday: We have oil and it seeps through the ground. Do you want to pay me to know where it is…

Plainview: Well, just because there’s something on the ground doesn’t mean there’s anything beneath it.

Paul Sunday: Why did Standard Oil buy up land?

Plainview: Is it in California?

Paul Sunday: Maybe.

Plainview: How much land they buy?

Paul Sunday: I’d like it better if you didn’t think I was stupid.

Eli Sunday: Oh, Daniel… Oh, Daniel… please… I-I-I’m in… I’m in desperate times.

Plainview: I know.

Eli Sunday: I need a friend.

Plainview: Yes, of course you do.

Eli Sunday: I’ve sinned! I need help! I’m a sinner! I’ve let the Devil grab hold of me in ways I never imagined! I’m so full of sin.

Plainview: The Lord sometimes challenges us, doesn’t he?

Eli Sunday: Oh, yes, he does. Daniel, yes, he does!

Plainview: Yes, he does!

Eli Sunday: Oh! He’s completely failed to alert me to the recent panic in our economy and this! I-I… I must have this. I must, I must, I must, I must, I must have this. My investments have… Daniel, I won’t bore you, but I… If I could grab the Lord’s hand for help, I would, but he does these things all the time, these mysteries that he presents and while we wait… while we wait for his word…

Plainview: Because you’re not the chosen brother, Eli. It was Paul who was chosen. Yes, he-he found me and he told me about your land. You’re just a fool.

Plainview: [mumbles] Abandoned my child.

Eli Sunday: Say it louder… say it louder!

Plainview: I’ve abandoned my child! I’ve abandoned my child! I’ve abandoned my boy!

Eli Sunday: Now beg for the blood!

Plainview: [sotto voce] Please, give me the blood, Eli. Let me get out of here.

Plainview: [aloud] Give me the blood, Lord, and let me get away!

Plainview: [Eli is intending to bless the well] I thank you all so much for visiting with us at this time. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of you, and I hope, very much in the months to come, I’ll be able to visit with each and every one of you. Ah… I’m better at digging holes in the ground than making speeches, so let’s forget the speech for this evening, just make it a simple blessing. You see, one man doesn’t prospect from the ground. It takes a whole community of good people, such as yourselves… and, uh, this is good. We stay together. We pray together, we work together and, if the good Lord smiles kindly on our endeavor, we share in the wealth together. Now before we spud in Mary’s Well number one – named for the lovely Miss Mary Sunday here by my side, a proud daughter of these hills – I’d just like to say God bless these honest labors of ours; and, of course, God bless you all. Amen.

Eli Sunday: How is all the work coming?

Plainview: Everything’s good.

Eli Sunday: All the men are provided for?

Plainview: Of course.

Eli Sunday: Spirits seem high. Is there… anything that you need from me? Anything the church can do for you?

Plainview: I don’t believe so, no. Thank you.

Eli Sunday: I understand you’ve asked the people to gather round and watch the well begin tomorrow, is that right?

Plainview: That’s right.

Eli Sunday: I will bless the well. Before you begin, you should introduce me. You’ll see me walk up towards the oil well, and…

Plainview: The derrick.

Eli Sunday: You’ll see me walk up, and then you can say my name.

Plainview: When you walk up?

Eli Sunday: Yes. You’ll see me walk up, and then you could say “The proud son of these hills, who tended his father’s flock”, and then you could say my name.

Plainview: That’s fine.

Eli Sunday: And what happens then?

Plainview: Well, then we start the drill.

Eli Sunday: It’s a simple blessing, Daniel, but an important one. It’s just a few words, it won’t take long. What time?

Plainview: Eli! Tragedy at the well last night.

Eli Sunday: Yes, I heard.

Plainview: Joe Ghunda was a man of considerable faith, so if you wish to say a few words, his burial’s at noon, tomorrow.

Eli Sunday: Daniel, this accident could have been avoided. It is terrible to think of that well working away out there, unblessed…

Plainview: Yes, it could have. These men are working twelve hour shifts and they need their rest. If they don’t have it, they start to make stupid mistakes…

Eli Sunday: I’ve seen some of the men drinking. Don’t you think that has something to do with it…

Plainview: We need these men well rested to bring in this well. They can’t get that if they’re up here listening to your gospel, and then the well can’t produce and blow gold all over the place…

Eli Sunday: I wish I had more time with Joe Ghunda. More could have been done…

Plainview: And then the well can’t produce and blow gold all over the place. Now, would you see to it that his personal possessions find their way back to his family, please? Thank you. Heard you were planning some renovations?

Eli Sunday: Yes. Our congregation is growing strongly. We need more room.

Plainview: Well, that was one goddamn helluva show.

[chuckles and walks off]

Eli Sunday: We were happy to have you, Daniel.

Eli Sunday: Mr. Bandy has a grandson. Have you met his grandson William? William Bandy is one of the finest members we have at the Church of The Third Revelation. He’s eager to come to Hollywood to be in movies. He is very good-looking. And I do think he will have success.

William Bandy: I’m Bandy.

Plainview: Uh, yes. Yes. Um… William Bandy, huh? Yeah, I’d like to lease your land.

William Bandy: I had asked for you to come and talk to be me before. When you were leasing land.

Plainview: That’s right, yes. My boy’s been very sick, you know.

William Bandy: This was before your boy got sick. Now, I know that you would like to build a pipeline through my property. Is that right, what I’ve heard?

Plainview: It’s absolutely right, and, uh… well… It’s an eight-inch pipe. It can buried with your consent. I guarantee you absolutely no disruption…

William Bandy: God. God has told me what you must do.

Plainview: And what is that?

William Bandy: You should be washed in the blood of Jesus Christ.

Plainview: Oh, but I… I… I am. I have been washed, Mr. Bandy. I… I have been.

William Bandy: It’s your only way to salvation AND your only way for what you want. You can take it at the Church of the Third Revelation.

Plainview: I’ll pay you three thousand dollars.

William Bandy: I’d like you to be part of our church.

Plainview: I’ll pay you five thousand dollars.

William Bandy: Be baptized, be forgiven for the sin that you’ve done.

Plainview: What sin are you, uh, referring to, Mr. Bandy? My… my sin of drilling?

Plainview: What’s this? Why don’t I own this? Why don’t I own this?

Al Rose: That’s the Bandy tract. He was the holdout, when we were doing the buying? He had hoped to speak with you. Can’t you just build the pipeline around this tract?

Plainview: Can I build around fifty miles of Tehachapi Mountains? Don’t be thick in front of me, Al.

Al Rose: I can go to him again…

Plainview: No, I’ll go and talk to the man. I’ll talk to him, show you how it’s done.

H.W. Plainview: How much are we gonna pay them?

Plainview: Who’s that?

H.W. Plainview: Sunday family.

Plainview: Well, I’m not gonna give them oil prices. I’ll give them quail prices.

Plainview: What would you like, Eli?

Eli Sunday: Ten thousand dollars.

Plainview: For what?

Eli Sunday: For my church.

Plainview: That’s good. That’s a good one.

Plainview: [Paul Sunday has offered to sell Plainview information] Why’d you come to me?

Paul Sunday: You just brought this well in?

Plainview: That’s right.

Paul Sunday: Yes, so just give me five hundred dollars in cash, right now, and I’ll tell you where it is.

Plainview: I’ll tell you what I’ll do, son. I’ll give you a hundred dollars now and, if it proves to be a promising lease, then give a thousand dollar bonus…

Paul Sunday: Six hundred dollars.

Plainview: Just tell me one thing to help me decide. What else have you got up there. What do you grow?

Paul Sunday: We have a big ranch, but it’s mostly rocks. We can plant things; nothing will grow but weeds. What makes you think it’s up?

Fletcher Hamilton: Is there sulfur around, or alkali deposits?

Paul Sunday: Alkali, nearby. I don’t know sulfur.

[notices H.W]

Paul Sunday: Is that your son?

Plainview: Yes.

Paul Sunday: [to H.W] Hi.

H.W. Plainview: Hi.

Paul Sunday: [to Fletcher] Who are you?

Fletcher Hamilton: I’m Fletcher Hamilton. Nice to meet you, son. What’s your name?

Paul Sunday: What do you do?

Fletcher Hamilton: I work with Mr. Plainview.

Plainview: Here’s five hundred dollars. You tell me something worth hearing, this money’s yours.

Paul Sunday: I come from a town called Little Boston, in Isabella County.

Eli Sunday: We have a sinner with us here who wishes for salvation. Daniel, are you a sinner?

Plainview: Yes.

TWBB 2Eli Sunday: Oh, the Lord can’t hear you, Daniel. Say it to him. Go ahead and speak to him. It’s all right.

Plainview: Yes.

Eli Sunday: Down on your knees and to him. Look up to the sky and say it.

Plainview: What do you want me to say?

Eli Sunday: Oh, Daniel, you’ve come here and you’ve brought good and wealth, but you have also brought your bad habits as a backslider. You’ve lusted after women, and you have abandoned your child – your child that you raised. You have abandoned all because he was sick and you have sinned. So say it now – “I am a sinner.”

Plainview: I am a sinner.

Eli Sunday: Say it louder – ” I am a sinner! ”

Plainview: I’m a sinner.

Eli Sunday: Louder, Daniel. I am a sinner!

Plainview: I am a sinner.

Eli Sunday: I am sorry, Lord!

Plainview: I am sorry , Lord.

Eli Sunday: I want the blood!

Plainview: I want the blood.

Eli Sunday: You have abandoned your child!

Plainview: I’ve abandoned my child.

Eli Sunday: I will never backslide!

Plainview: I will never backslide.

Eli Sunday: I was lost, but now I am found!

Plainview: I was lost but now I’m found.

Eli Sunday: I have abandoned my child!

[Plainview glares at him]

Eli Sunday: Say it… say it

To return to the home page, click on the header at the top of this page.


From → Film

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: