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Bar-sur-Loup Provence France

There Will Be Blood

A fascinating film about a fascinating
character. The movie follows a California oilman from 1898 to 1927 as
he builds his petroleum empire. The protagonist is intense,
passionate, exceedingly misanthropic, vengeful, and full of hate. It
is an amazing character study and a brilliant performance by Daniel Day Lewis.

What really got me to thinking, however, is that the movie didn't really have or need an antagonist. There is the ongoing conflict with the local preacher (another thoroughly dislikeable character that is also brilliantly written and portrayed).

The preacher is not really an antagonist, however, as he never has the ability to block the protagonist from achieving his objectives. In classical dramatic theory, that is pretty much the antagonist's role. Here the preacher is a foil, and a source of conflict, but hardly something insurmountable.

What it makes me wonder is if the protagonist and the antagonist are not rolled up into one character. With so many of his own demons and obsessions, the protagonist doesn't really need anyone else causing problems or inhibiting his progress. The protagonist, simply because of who he is, fulfils this role quite well himself.

Numerous other characters arrive and are treated the same way -- they are foils for the protagonist's actions and character development. The brother, the son, the rancher and his daughter are all minor puppets on the stage.

It is almost a fictional biopic rather than a classical drama, with a central figure so compelling and intense that the drama and the interest are maintained throughout the film.

Comments

I found this film quite disturbing. I kept thinking the protagonist was going to redeem himself. He would start in that direction -- but no, he never changed. He was just purely evil (imho). I'm glad I saw it, but I have no interest in seeing it again.

Agreed, more or less

I had read about it before I went, so I figured (correctly) that I would be up for a couple hours of unpleasantness. The main character was so relentless and fascinating, however, that the movie ended up being surprisingly compelling.
So for me it is a must-see for writers (that's why I blogged it) , but I definitely agree that once was enough.
Bar-sur-Loup Provence France

December 2011

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