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There Will Be Blood: 30+ Facts You Should Know

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There Will Be Blood is a 2007 American film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson from a screenplay based on the 1927 novel Oil! by Upton Sinclair. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano and Dillon Freasier, and won numerous U.S. and international film awards.

Daniel Plainview is an ambitious and lonely oil tycoon, with a soul as blackened as the color of what he longs for.

His eagerness to snatch from the earth one of its greatest riches, will lead him to travel through small towns in California until he reaches a ranch in Little Boston where a sea of black gold seems to flow from the ground itself, there Plainview, will meet the pastor Eli Sunday with whom he will make a deal for his property, this will start a confrontation marked by greed, deception and religion.

Thanks to a mysterious tip, Plainview discovers the existence of a sea of oil under the earth of a small western town, and takes his son, H.W., to try his luck in dusty Little Boston.

And it is in this lost town, where the only fun revolves around the Pentecostalist church of charismatic pastor Eli Sunday, that Plainview and H.W. are going to have the time of their lives. But as the oil makes them richer and richer, different kinds of problems will arise.

The film begins by showing us the rise of Daniel Plainview in the world of oil production along with his son and business partner (as he likes to call him) H.W.

The peak of wealth for both of them will come when they set up a fruitful oil business in the town of Little Boston, where Plainview will offer prosperity and development to the community, but where the worst conditions a human being can have will also appear in him, such as hatred, greed, corruption and an ever increasing ambition that will take hold of him as the business flourishes.

Cool Facts About There Will Be Blood

1) The composer of the film’s music is none other than Jonny Greenwood, guitarist of the rock band Radiohead.

2) Near the location of this film, No Country For Old Men (2007) was also shot. One day, Paul Thomas Anderson and his crew tested the pyrotechnic fire effects of the rig, causing a huge billowing of smoke, messing up the pan that Joel Coen and Ethan Coen were filming.

This caused them to delay shooting until the next day when the smoke cleared. Both this film and It’s No Country for Old Men would eventually become top contenders at the Academy Awards a year and a half later.

3) Russell Harvard, who plays the deaf, adult H.W. Plainview adult towards the end of the film, is actually deaf.

4) Daniel Day-Lewis appears in every scene in the film, with two minor exceptions – he is not present in the scene in which Eli Sunday (still covered in mud) scolds his father, or in the brief montage of HW and Mary Sunday prior to their marriage.

5) In an interview on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air with Terry Gross,” Paul Dano told Groos that originally his role as Paul Sunday was much smaller, Eli’s brother, and another actor had been cast as Eli.

However, after Dano had already begun shooting a scene as Paul Sunday, Paul Thomas Anderson decided to replace the actor playing Eli.

Anderson asked Dano to play Eli Sunday (a much larger role) as well as Paul Sunday, and he decided to change the film so that the brothers were identical twins.

Anderson asked Dano to play Eli on a Thursday, and shooting for the role began four days later, on the following Monday. Daniel Day-Lewis, by contrast, had a whole year to prepare to play Daniel Plainview.

6) Along with his 1989 win, Daniel Day-Lewis became the eighth actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor twice; the others are Fredric March (1932, 1946), Jack Nicholson (1975, 1997), Marlon Brando (1954, 1972), Gary Cooper (1941, 1952), Tom Hanks (1993, 1994), Dustin Hoffman (1979, 1988) and Spencer Tracy (1937, 1938). Sean Penn (2003, 2008) later became the ninth member of this club.

7) Daniel Plainview bears some resemblance to a real, early 20th century California oil tycoon named Edward L. Doheny.

Both were from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin; both were Geological Survey employees and had worked in Kansas; both tried mining before entering the oil business; and both worked with a fellow prospector named “HB Ailman.”

As for other Plainview-Doheny connections, the bowling scene in “There Will Be Blood” was filmed at Greystone Manor, a California estate Doheny built as a gift for his only son. Also interestingly.

8) According to Paul Thomas Anderson, the director and crew were “pretty loose about where scenes would take place.” This sometimes meant shooting scenes three or four times in different locations, and evaluating the result each time.

9) The first line of dialogue (“NO!”) doesn’t occur until 5 minutes into the film.

10) Paul Thomas Anderson planned to have the restored bowling alley (used in the climax) set in Greystone Manor painted completely white to give it a certain Kubrick symmetry and menacing quality (also a nod to A Clockwork Orange(1971)).

However, he changed it to its original state in that it was later decided that the bowling alley was to be given away by the estate after filming.

11) Director Paul Thomas Anderson owns a Pathé 1910 camera with forty-three special millimeter lenses.

The lenses have been specially modified to be used in the film, as it has very low resolution, and can change colors in the corners. Only certain shots of the film used this lens; for example, a picture of Plainview sleeping on the train with a HW baby.

12) This is the first film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson that did not feature Philip Seymour Hoffman.

13) Kel O’Neill was originally cast for the role of Eli Sunday but was replaced by Paul Dano after filming began.

14) The film was originally given a 12A rating in the UK for cinema exhibition, meaning that children of any age could watch it, with adult supervision if they were under twelve.

In a curious move, the distributors subsequently appealed to the British Board of Film Classification for the possibility of raising the certificate. The B.B.F.C. agreed and the film was subsequently made more restrictive for over-15s, preventing under-fifteens from going to see the film regardless of parental supervision.

15) In the summer of ’06, during filming, a photographer took a photograph on the set of a man the photographer believed to be Daniel Day-Lewis, albeit with a large number of physical alterations.

The photograph appeared used on various film websites and in magazines as an example of how Day-Lewis had changed drastically for the role.

After watching the film and applying common sense, it turns out that this person was not him, in fact it was rather actor Vince Froio, who played Plainview’s “closest associate” at the end of the film.

16) It ranked #51 on Entertainment Weekly magazine’s 2008 list of “100 New Movie Classics”.

17) The tune Plainview sings to the boy after the explosion is the traditional Gaelic song “Gradh Geal Mo Chridh”.

18) The $500 given to Paul Sunday by Daniel Plainview is $100 1882 gold certificates, which is appropriate, as they contain an image of Thomas Heart Benton. Benton was a Missouri Senator 1821-1851 who was a strong advocate of westward expansion.

19) Daniel Plainview was loosely modeled on the famous oilman Edward Doheny and his features are based on Count Dracula. Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills was used at the end of the film; this house was built by Doheny for his son, Edward L. Doheny, Jr. (Ned).

20) Paul F. Tompkins, who plays Prescott, is the only cast member to have appeared in a previous film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. He had a small role in Magnolia (1999) which was cut from the finished film. The rest of the cast had never worked with Anderson before.

21) Several characters seen or mentioned in “Wells of Ambition” appear to have been based on historical figures.

Although his name is never said during the film, Plainview business partner HB Ailman shares the name of an actual gold and oil prospector who was active during the turn of the century and is associated with oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny, on whom Daniel Plainview appears to have been based in part.

The two Standard Oil representatives “HM Tilford” and “JJ Carter” who meet Plainview are based on historical oilmen: Henry Morgan Tilford who was vice president of the Standard Oil Company during the turn of the century, while Carter of John Joyce Carter Oil Company was incorporated and subsidized by Standard Oil (New Jersey) in the 1890s.

At one point in the film, the name “AC Maude” is stated as a property holder in Little Boston; today’s AC Maude was a prominent member of the Bakersfield, California community during the 1800s; Bakersfield is located in Kern County, where over 80% of California’s oil wells are located.

The name “Redlick” is also claimed as the property holder of Little Boston; Joseph Redlick was also a prominent member of the Bakersfield community in the early 1900s.

22) The piece “Convergence” during the fire at the derrick was originally composed by Jonny Greenwood for Bodysong(2003), and is available on that film’s soundtrack, but not on the soundtrack for “There Will Be Blood”.

23) The instantly famous monologue Daniel famously has at the end of the film comes directly from the Congressional transcripts of the 1920s “Teapot Dome” scandal, in which Republican Senator Albert Fall of New Mexico was found guilty of accepting bribes for oil drilling rights to public lands in California and Wyoming from several oil industry bigwigs (including Edward Doheny).

The scandal was the inspiration for Sinclair’s novel and Edward Doheny was Anderson’s inspiration for Daniel Plainview.

24) Two traditional Christian hymns are heard during the film, both sung by Little Boston in Eli Sunday’s congregation.

The first is “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” which is heard preceding the scene in which he tells Eli Plainview will bless the oil well. The second is “There’s Power in the Blood” which is sung immediately after Plainview’s baptism.

25) A little known band in Manchester, UK has adopted the name Eli and The Third Revelation in homage to the film.

26) The film takes place in 1898, 1902, 1911 and 1927.

27) The script originally ended with Plainview beating Eli to death with a glass, rather than a bowling pin, and then throwing his body through the bowling pins in the warehouse. Once on set, it was changed to the slightly less graphic version seen in the film.

28) According to the script, Daniel’s full name is Daniel Plainview Caldecot.

29) During the wedding scene of HW Plainview and Mary Sunday in 1927, the Priest is heard reciting the Bible story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well.

His quotes 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 fountain of living waters unto everlasting life.

And the woman said to him, “Lord, give me of that water, that he [shall] not thirst, neither come hither to draw.”

30) Before filming began, Paul Thomas Anderson had a nightly viewing of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

31) After filming together Paul Thomas Anderson says Daniel Day-Lewis is the best actor he has ever worked with.

32) Daniel Day-Lewis agreed to play Daniel Plainview because Paul Thomas Anderson’s previous film, Inebriated with Love, excited him enormously and he wanted to work with the person who had been able to create a film like that.

33) When they were trying to convince Dillon Freasier’s mother, who was not a professional actor, to allow him to participate in the film, she went to a video store and rented Gangs of New York because she wanted to find out who was this Daniel Day-Lewis, the star of the film with whom her son would have to share long hours of shooting.

Horrified, after seeing him play the ruthless Bill The Butcher, the mother called the production company to refuse to let her son be next to such a dangerous character.

So the film’s casting department sent her a copy of The Age of Innocence, in which Daniel Day Lewis plays a gentle, polite man, and they were able to calm her nerves.

34) Daniel Day-Lewis improvised the speech that Daniel Plainview gives to the people of Little Boston, in which he talks about building schools and growing the town.

35) The film is based in part on the novel Oil! (in its first 150 pages, where the hardships of the oil prospectors are narrated), written in 1927 by Upton Sinclair.

Paul Thomas Anderson discovered it when, years ago, while in London, he was looking for a novel about his country, which he longed for, and the cover of the novel, with the California landscape, immediately attracted him.

36) The film was shot in Marfa, Texas, where Gigante was filmed decades ago. About 2,500 people live there. During pre-production and filming, the production crew employed 15 percent of the population.

References:

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/there_will_be_blood

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0469494/

https://www.filmaffinity.com/us/film531158.html