Will there be blood, a true story? Was Daniel Plainview a real person?
Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 drama “There Will Be Blood” is considered an unforgettable gem of modern cinema. So it’s no surprise that the Daniel Day-Lewis star has won several prestigious accolades, including two Oscars. The film follows the journey of oilman Daniel Plainview as he sets up a drilling company in Southern California and goes to great lengths to satisfy his thirst for money and power. Addressing themes of capitalism and religion, “There Will Be Blood” is a grim exploration of the morals and motives of men drowning in their own belief systems and proceeding ruthlessly with a one-lane mind.
When it comes to period pieces, “There Will Be Blood” is bright, brutal, and doesn’t cut corners in its narration. His depiction of the godly and proud, filthy and greedy world of late 19th and early 20th century America has made many fans question his connection to reality. Is the film based on actual historical events? Is it based on a true story? Or is it just Anderson’s fantastic imagination? Let’s dive in and find out.
Will there be blood based on a true story?
“There Will Be Blood” is based in part on a true story. Anderson loosely based the film on writer and politician Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel, “Oil! – a satirical exploration of the US oil industry in the wake of one of the country’s biggest political scandals, the Teapot Dome scandal of 1921-1923. However, “bulk” is the keyword here.
“We were really unfaithful to the book” noted Anderson. “With ‘There Will Be Blood’, I didn’t even really feel like I was adapting a book. I was just desperate to find things to write. It all came from so many different sources. But the book was a great springboard. Day-Lewis also read the book to prepare for his role.
Sinclair’s novel focuses heavily on socialism, capitalism, the oil boom years, and the intricacies of the politics of the time. He also has several characters that he uses to delve into themes of 1920s ideology, religion, sexuality, education, and family values. Anderson extracted valuable information from the novel needed to describe faithfully the dangerous oil industry and its barons. However, he structured his film around a larger-than-life character – Day-Lewis’s astute oil researcher Daniel Plainview, inspired by the character in James Arnold Ross’ novel. Ross in turn is based on an early 1900s oil mogul, Edward L. Doheny. Plainview might be twice removed from reality, but it’s closer to it than others we’ve seen onscreen.
Doheny was one of the country’s first oil tycoons, responsible for turning Los Angeles and Southern California into the center of the oil boom. He was also involved in the Teapot Dome scandal. Doheny was on trial for offering a $ 100,000 bribe to Albert Fall, the US Secretary of the Interior under President Warren G. Harding. However, Doheny was acquitted – twice, conspiracy and corruption charges – but paid $ 47 million in taxes, penalties and settlements. Fall went to jail.
Plainview’s ambition mirrors that of Doheny, whose rise to power began with his discovery of oil in a private residence in 1892. Plainview’s ubiquitous greed, fiercely competitive nature, and cold search for petroleum treasures reflect not only the oil barons of the 1920s, but also the hundreds of wealthy businessmen through the ages who have realized that honesty is just a pitfall in the road to wealth.
In the film, the character of Plainview engages heavily in corruption and violence to secure his fortune with the liquid gold that was oil. Unlike the Dohenys, who were devout Catholics, Plainview is not overly religious. One of the film’s central conflicts involving Plainview and a preacher named Eli Sunday is entirely fictional. However, it is certainly essential in demonstrating the struggle between faith and fortune that many Americans faced during the oil rush.
At the heart of the novel, film, and life of Doheny is a father-son relationship. In the novel, millionaire Ross’s opinions diverge from those of his socialist son Bunny, but the two come to an imperfect mutual understanding. In the film, Plainview’s adopted son, HW, is his partner in crime and the face of his “family man” image, but soon becomes a source of shame and ultimately a reminder of his sins and his feelings. defaults. Doheny, according to most historical records, was for the most part a devoted father to his son Edward “Ned” Doheny Junior. Upon the mysterious death of his son in 1929, Doheny and his wife donated $ 1.1 million to the University of Southern California for a library in his honor.
Additionally, the fantastical mansion Plainview lives in at the end of the film – where her dismissal from HW and her murderous date with Eli takes place – was actually Doheny’s wedding present for her son, named Greystone Mansion. Little factual nods like this add authenticity to a film that strives to accurately portray oil kings, common people, and early 1900s California culture. Most of its characters may be fictional, but its essence lies in those who lived around the turn of this century.
There Will Be Blood ‘accurately captures the middle of Southern California during the oil boom years. From grease-stained shirts to dangerous oil wells, from complicit businessmen to commoners parting with their lands – the film realistically portrays what the discovery and drilling of oil meant to different sections of society. Even the film’s barren landscape – unable to radiate positivity even under clear blue skies – is reminiscent of how the oil rush definitely transformed the lands of Southern California.
While the violence and gore are exaggerated, it is quite possible that the events of the film occurred, in fragments, to several hundred people during the oil boom. Explosions, fires and injuries are common occurrences for drillers and miners. Preachers preach and then get greedy. The hearing impaired are unfortunately shunned in society. The oil barons are doing everything to keep the oil flowing. ‘allows us to glimpse the history of America and the heavyweight of those who ruthlessly pursue wealth and power. “There Will Be Blood” might as well be at the top of the list.
In conclusion, “There Will Be Blood” is only partially based on historical truth and reality. However, it sends a strong and clear message about the cold and calculated rich who place their fortunes on the backs of the poor. They gain in wealth but lose their humanity in the process.
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