There Will Be Blood ★★★★

This is the story of how There Will Be Blood changed the way I thought about art.

In the spring of 2013, I got my first "real job" in fast food around the same time I started watching films as more of a serious hobby. Being the irresponsible high schooler I was, the money I earned went straight through my new bank account to Amazon to buy Blu-rays (can't say I've broken this habit three years later). Naturally, being a budding cinephile, I started with the works of Christopher Nolan, late Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and basically anything else in the IMDb top list. All good films from good filmmakers, yet they were very... Safe. I enjoyed them but nothing really challenged me

One day, Ryan Connolly of Film Riot mentioned a film in passing called There Will Be Blood. I asked my dad if he had seen it and received this response:

"I hate that movie. It's so weird."

Now my curiosity had peaked. The Blu-ray was on sale for less than $7, which is what I made in an hour, so I purchased it instantly and was viewing it two days later thanks to Amazon Prime. To say that I disliked it would be shallow.

What the hell was I watching? The first fifteen minutes didn't have a single line of dialogue. Long, tense pauses broke up what little words there were later in the film. Unbroken shots lingered on Daniel Plainview as he spoke to others, creating such an uncomfortable aura around his character. Film grain danced along the screen and forged a totally different look from the sharp, clean movies I was used to seeing. Humungous swells in the musical score made me fear for my own life. And of course, that ending. That ending.

I was confused, frustrated, and intimidated. So the disc was put back in its case and stored way back in my closet. Thinking about this movie was honestly the last thing I wanted to do.

But thinking about There WIll Be Blood was all I could do. It was stuck in my head for weeks, honestly haunting me. As a wannabe filmmaker, I was scared by the scope and strangeness of this film. Lots of critics online were hailing it as a masterpiece, and that scared me even more; if I can't handle this movie, how am I supposed to make films that will appease audiences and cinephiles alike? I was so frightened by the concept of filmmaking now thanks to this movie that it kept me awake. One night, I was starting to wake up after a dream when I experienced sleep paralysis. While frozen, the opening music swell from the film blared loudly in my head until I was able to move again. This made me decide to stop being so scared and watch the movie again.

Did I finally understand everything about the film? Well, no. But my entire way of thinking about films and filmmaking changed. I realized that there are no "rules of filmmaking" and that movies do not have to be "clean" and "safe" to be excellent. Directors can bend every rule in the book in order to evoke certain feelings in their audiences, or the movies be made to create different feelings in different people.

Not only that, but I understood how even the littlest parts of a movie could change its atmosphere. Paul Thomas Anderson used editing, camera work, lighting, production design, and gorgeous film stock while the actors put on unique performances, and it all blends together to make something terrifying, epic, and really weird.

Three years later, I don't hold up There Will Be Blood as highly as I used to since my palette has expanded so much, but it is easily one of the best American movies of the '00s. And it holds a special place in my heart for teaching me more about filmmaking than any other movie I've seen.

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