"I'm an oilman, so hopely you'll forgive me for my plain speaking..." -- Daniel Plainview , 'There Will Be Blood'

Film There Will Be Blood is an immense film and the ramifications of its artistry probably won’t be measured for some years. Which I’m well aware is a bold statement but Paul Thomas Anderson has created a very bold film, a manifesto offering yet another alternative to the kinds of filmmaking we’re so used to enjoying from Hollywood. In other words, it's an art film. But what's clever is that Anderson has somehow managed to cloak it in the trappings of a mainstream movie to such an extent that unlike previous examples ( particularly Fight Club) it's actually being recognised and hailed by people who tend to run a mile from that sort of thing (particularly the Academy).

Classical Hollywood techniques such as establishing shots, the 180 degree rule, expository close-up and continuity editing are all tossed out and although the likes of Godard have been doing that for years its just not something we’re used to seeing in this context and in much the same way as Orson Welles borrowing from pioneers and innovating by accumulating in Citizen Kane, Anderson has absorbed the work of 70s directors, the French New Wave, Third Cinema and the rest to create something which seem paradoxically utterly unlike anything we’ve seen before on screen.

It isn’t just Daniel Day-Lewis’s unhinged yet hypnotic performance as oilman Daniel Plainview that makes us uneasy then – it’s that we’re just not used to films looking and to some extent sounding this way. But what Anderson also cleverly does is to underpin the enterprise and make the film watchable and pleasingly familar by sending Plainview through a character arc not unlike a gangster film from the 1930s. Squint and you can see James Cagney in Angels With Dirty Faces, a determined figure taking advantage his persuasive abilities both verbal and violent in order to become a very rich king pin, with God glancing over his shoulder and offering the odd warning were necessary.

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