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There Will Be Blood

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There Will Be Blood is the most Objectivist movie I've seen so far this year. It tells the tale of a ruthless yet heroic oilman who is wholly devoted to his work and stops at nothing to get ahead of the competition. Over the course of the film he deals with the antagonists (moochers, altruists, and one hell of a religious nut) exactly how they should be dealt with :P. No sappy cliche love side-story, no apologizing for the hero's actions, no showing him feeding starving kids or something with his money so the liberals in the audience don't hate him, just the story of one man who rose above the rest by his own dedication and mind. Not to mention the acting is superb and the writing is top-notch. One can almost feel the contempt the director has for the looters, moochers, and witch-doctors of the world just puring out of the screen. 9/10, an instant classic in my book.

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I can't disagree with you more.

The movie is redeemed by Daniel Day-Lewis' incredible performace as Daniel Plainview. Other than that, the plotting was unfocused and sprawling, the score a grating distraction, and the ending shallow and detached.

Did you really think Plainview was a heroic figure after the way he treated his son? How about killing two men in cold blood?

His character is best summed up by his own attitude toward life: "I have a competition in me. I want no one else to succeed."

I can go into more detail if you'd like. For what it's worth I enjoyed the movie. It's smart - but a movie as smart as this one should know better. That's why I can't cut it much slack.

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Seriously, this movie does not promote an objectivist view point. Quite the opposite. It instead attempts to show how ambition and "greed" ends up destroying you. The first two thirds of this movie are somewhat interesting. The last third isn't really even worth watching. Daniel Day Lewis may be a good actor but I think he might be better in Theater. Way over the top for cinema.

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I didn't like the movie at all (I saw this over a month ago so I forget the main character's name). The main actor's performance was exceptional, but other than that, it wasn't that good. I also disagree with you about the movie being Objectivist. Sure he was hard-working and determined, but Objectivism doesn't advocate lying and cheating your way to the top.

Semi-spoiler:

Specifically, I'm referring to how he flat out lied to the town when he proposed his drilling operation. He promised to pay their church X amount of dollars if they let him drill, but he never paid. When the whacko priest came to demand the money, he beat him up.

Sure the religious people in the movie were nuts, but that doesn't justify dishonesty, which is certainly NOT an Objectivist trait.

As a side note, I did like how the last several scenes took place at the Biltmore mansion, which is where I proposed to my fiance. :)

Edited by skap35
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There Will Be Blood is the most Objectivist movie I've seen so far this year. It tells the tale of a ruthless yet heroic oilman who is wholly devoted to his work and stops at nothing to get ahead of the competition. Over the course of the film he deals with the antagonists (moochers, altruists, and one hell of a religious nut) exactly how they should be dealt with :devil:. No sappy cliche love side-story, no apologizing for the hero's actions, no showing him feeding starving kids or something with his money so the liberals in the audience don't hate him, just the story of one man who rose above the rest by his own dedication and mind. Not to mention the acting is superb and the writing is top-notch. One can almost feel the contempt the director has for the looters, moochers, and witch-doctors of the world just puring out of the screen. 9/10, an instant classic in my book.

Are you kidding? This is the least Objectivist movie I have ever seen. The fact that it's based on a book by Upton Sinclair should've been the first tip off; but really, this movie was nothing but a character study of a scoundrel. It just showed one instance of his depravity after another, all leading up to nothing. Plus, the movie was just plain boring. There was nothing unexpected or unpredictable; there was nothing insightful to be gleaned from the relationships among the characters. I'm hard pressed to think of a more intellectually barren movie, but simply because it was filmed in a slightly off-kilter, episodic style it gets praised as a great work. It's pretty blatant in its message that all businessmen and religious leaders are corrupt, but that's hardly a groundbreaking premise.

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Are you kidding? This is the least Objectivist movie I have ever seen. The fact that it's based on a book by Upton Sinclair should've been the first tip off; but really, this movie was nothing but a character study of a scoundrel. It just showed one instance of his depravity after another, all leading up to nothing. Plus, the movie was just plain boring. There was nothing unexpected or unpredictable; there was nothing insightful to be gleaned from the relationships among the characters. I'm hard pressed to think of a more intellectually barren movie, but simply because it was filmed in a slightly off-kilter, episodic style it gets praised as a great work. It's pretty blatant in its message that all businessmen and religious leaders are corrupt, but that's hardly a groundbreaking premise.

I'm a little late on this one, but I agree wholeheartedly. Nothing I can say hasn't been explicated above by one of the former posters.

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It's interesting to note that so often when people talk about selfishness Daniel Plainview is exactly the kind of person they think of, a sociopath. And when Objectivists talk of selfishness as a virtue that is the connotation we are battling against.

There are times when I think that the implementation of Objectivist thought is hindered by the Altruist's and Theists 'ownership' of the words we are attempting to use. Selfishness has already been branded and sold as an evil, altruism a good and fighting an established connotation is like pushing water uphill.

There must be another way.

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Plainview was a man who could've been a hero, but chose to be dishonest and malicious instead. HHe seemed to be a man who wanted it all, and that's good, but the means he went about it was nothing short of foolish and certainly wholly unethical. I will say I got a pleasure out of the last scene, though I don't thin kI was supposed to.

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I think this is in interesting case study in: "THIS IS OBJECTIVIST!" "NO! THIS IS NOT OBJECTIVIST!"

That's pretty much how every movie, book, and show review goes around here.

Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand and that's it. That being said, it is pretty silly to call just about any movie Objectivist, since Ayn Rand is not around to take part in the writing and production.

Moreover, I think there is not much of a debate in this thread. It appears as if one member mistakenly thought that this movie would be of value to those who properly appreciate Objectivism only to be barraged with a fusillade of objections. While I am responding here, I too found the philosophy underlying the movie abhorrent even though I do acknowledge that Daniel Day Lewis' acting was still great. He did the best with what he had.

I will say I got a pleasure out of the last scene, though I don't think I was supposed to.

What are you kidding!? The last scene was when he told his son that

he (Plainview) was not his (son's) real father and that he never loved him?

That was one of the most unsettling scenes throughout the entire movie!

If you were to say that you found the penultimate (I think) scene somewhat amusing, I could understand. That is, when

Plainview vindictively gets the preacher loudly confess that "he is a false prophet and that religion is a superstition" over and over again. This, I admit I found a little amusing because it demonstrated that the preacher lacked conviction in his mysticism. Plainview then proceeded to inform that preacher that he DRANK HIS MILKSHAKE, meaning that Plainview gradually stole the large supply of oil under the preacher's property. Although it is horrible that Plainview did this. I at least admit that watching Daniel Day Lewis shout that he DRANK HIS MILKSHAKE can be pretty funny if you drop the context of the horrendous act that it connotes.

Edited by DarkWaters
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Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand and that's it. That being said, it is pretty silly to call just about any movie Objectivist, since Ayn Rand is not around to take part in the writing and production.

Moreover, I think there is not much of a debate in this thread. It appears as if one member mistakenly thought that this movie would be of value to those who properly appreciate Objectivism only to be barraged with a fusillade of objections. While I am responding here, I too found the philosophy underlying the movie abhorrent even though I do acknowledge that Daniel Day Lewis' acting was still great. He did the best with what he had.

What are you kidding!? The last scene was when he told his son that

he (Plainview) was not his (son's) real father and that he never loved him?

That was one of the most unsettling scenes throughout the entire movie!

If you were to say that you found the penultimate (I think) scene somewhat amusing, I could understand. That is, when

Plainview vindictively gets the preacher loudly confess that "he is a false prophet and that religion is a superstition" over and over again. This, I admit I found a little amusing because it demonstrated that the preacher lacked conviction in his mysticism. Plainview then proceeded to inform that preacher that he DRANK HIS MILKSHAKE, meaning that Plainview gradually stole the large supply of oil under the preacher's property. Although it is horrible that Plainview did this. I at least admit that watching Daniel Day Lewis shout that he DRANK HIS MILKSHAKE can be pretty funny if you drop the context of the horrendous act that it connotes.

Yes, I was referring to the latter scene.

Also: Perhaps you'll find this funny.

Edited by TheEgoist
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OK, there are a few misconceptions floating around about some of the stories themes, I think. Lemme counter some of these arguments you guys presented:

On not giving the preacher his money: I think Plainview fully intended to give him the 5000 at first. After all, at the end of the film $5000 was nothing to him. However, I think when he saw A) how fucking crazy the guy was and

:blush: how much time he was stealing from his company by roping his workers into his ridiculous sermons, Plainview decided against supporting that man in any way. Also, I think Plainview was personally insulted by Eli Sunday's claim that he could heal people through faith when Plainview's son was made deaf. He saw Eli as nothing but a worthless hindrance and an outright fraud, why would he want to pour more money into the cancer that was bringing down his operations?

On the murder of his "brother:" Well, first of all he wasn't really his brother. He was a con-man who assumed his brother's position for personal gain at Plainview's expense. Killing him was a bit harsh, but you make it sound like he killed him just for the hell of it. I'd be pissed off too.

On the way he treated his "son:" Well, he wasn't really his son, he was adopted. Plainview only abandoned him after the kid tried to burn the house down with him in it. At the end when he yells at him, he only does so after his son declares that he's starting his own business, therefore becoming Plainview's competitor. As he stated earlier, Plainview hated competition and took this as a betrayal, a personal insult to his integrity.

On the claim that the story's moral is "greed destroys you in the end:" How so? At the end of the movie, the only character who WASN'T destroyed was Daniel Plainview. It is mentioned that the end sequence takes place during the great depression. People are starving in the streets and begging for scraps of bread, while Daniel Plainview sits in his mansion and eats whatever the hell he wants. He has the isolation he always wanted, his fortress against the rest of the world. How exactly did he "lose?" Sure he's not in tip-top physical or mental form at the end of the film, but he's miles ahead of everyone else.

On "drainage" being theft: It isn't. He was not so much "drinking his milkshake" but rather "drinking his own milkshake which caused Eli's milkshake to flow into his glass." Drainage was caused by the force of gravity and the physics of liquid, not by Plainview actually touching Eli's property.

Edited by LiberTodd
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I loved it. Nothing struck me as being pro-Objectivist really but I guess you could say the theme of Plainview's rational cynicism towards religion and the hypocrisy of religion represented by the ersatz exorcist Eli. The trusting, non-rational, non-empirical flock (which the film seems to purposefully keep blobby and shapeless

save the quick scene w/ Bandy

) vs. the rational individualist, path striking Plainview.

I read online somewhere that the scene at the end is supposed to be an homage to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Plainview's clubbing of Eli is supposed to have been inspired by the famous scene in 2001 where the protohuman clubs the boar. It's another reference to the blood --> DNA.

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This entire response contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.

On not giving the preacher his money: I think Plainview fully intended to give him the 5000 at first. After all, at the end of the film $5000 was nothing to him. However, I think when he saw A) how fucking crazy the guy was and B) how much time he was stealing from his company by roping his workers into his ridiculous sermons, Plainview decided against supporting that man in any way. Also, I think Plainview was personally insulted by Eli Sunday's claim that he could heal people through faith when Plainview's son was made deaf. He saw Eli as nothing but a worthless hindrance and an outright fraud, why would he want to pour more money into the cancer that was bringing down his operations?

As far as I can remember, Eli did not literally lasso Daniel Plainview's workers into his sermons against their will. Eli offered sermons and Plainview's workers elected to attend them. If the workers did this when they should have been working, then this is a contractual issue for Plainview to address with his workers. At best, he could have had Eli removed from the premises as a distraction to his employees.

This does not justify not giving Eli his money. A contract is a contract, regardless of how Eli wants to be in his free time.

On the murder of his "brother:" Well, first of all he wasn't really his brother. He was a con-man who assumed his brother's position for personal gain at Plainview's expense. Killing him was a bit harsh, but you make it sound like he killed him just for the hell of it. I'd be pissed off too.

Sure he had the right to despise the guy. However, this does not excuse murder.

On the way he treated his "son:" Well, he wasn't really his son, he was adopted. Plainview only abandoned him after the kid tried to burn the house down with him in it. At the end when he yells at him, he only does so after his son declares that he's starting his own business, therefore becoming Plainview's competitor. As he stated earlier, Plainview hated competition and took this as a betrayal, a personal insult to his integrity.

Daniel Plainview's son did not ask to be adopted by him; he was an infant. When Daniel Plainview assumed the father role, he assumed all of the responsibilities of a father.

Furthermore, Plainview taking it as a personal insult that his son wants to try to make a living as a businessman just displays how truly Daniel Plainview is rotten to the core with irrationality.

On the claim that the story's moral is "greed destroys you in the end:" How so? At the end of the movie, the only character who WASN'T destroyed was Daniel Plainview. It is mentioned that the end sequence takes place during the great depression. People are starving in the streets and begging for scraps of bread, while Daniel Plainview sits in his mansion and eats whatever the hell he wants. He has the isolation he always wanted, his fortress against the rest of the world. How exactly did he "lose?" Sure he's not in tip-top physical or mental form at the end of the film, but he's miles ahead of everyone else.

At the end of the movie, the only character who WASN'T destroyed was Daniel Plainview.

I do not speak for earwax but I believe that he meant psychological destruction. Your response (correctly) identifies that Daniel Plainview did not meet financial destruction.

On "drainage" being theft: It isn't. He was not so much "drinking his milkshake" but rather "drinking his own milkshake which caused Eli's milkshake to flow into his glass." Drainage was caused by the force of gravity and the physics of liquid, not by Plainview actually touching Eli's property.

I do not remember it being revealed in the movie that Daniel Plainview only acquired the oil under Eli's land because it flowed into the area where he had drilling rights. Even if he did, this would be a complicated legal dispute; it would not be clear that Daniel Plainview would be entitled to the oil. However, I think he could make a reasonable case that he should be under such circumstances*. Given that this movie is based on a book by Upton Sinclair, I suspect that he wanted Daniel Plainview to acquire oil in the most despicable fashion possible.

* I imagine that such a trial would pivot on whether Eli had a right to the oil underneath his land or if he only had a right to his land at the surface, which would give him the right to sell a plot of his land for Daniel Plainview to puncture to access the oil underneath. Arguably, Eli does not have the right to the oil underneath because he is a mystic who has no means whatsoever of exploiting it no more than I have the right to claiming a plot of land on Mars because I know one exists. I would want to reflect on this more before drawing a conclusion.

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WARNING: This post may contain movie spoilers.

Maybe I should see There Will be Blood, so I can decide for myself. But so far, mainly because it's from a novel by The Jungle author Upton Sinclair, I've had very little interest.

It sounds like it should go on what I call "Jim's Atrocity List" of movies; a list of movies that attack capitalism, selfishness, the independent, reasoning mind and even a universe of absolute laws.

So far, my list includes:

The Game (from 1996?), with Michael Douglas; this film, though very entertaining up until the climax, is very anti-capitalist and anti-business. It's message is that the rich--merely because they are rich--should be brought down, not by just a few pegs, but by forty storeys. If you've seen the film you'll know what I mean.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946), with James Stewart and Donna Reed. The villain in this movie is a crotchety old rich banker in a wheelchair, out to finaggle the working people of New Bedord, Massachusetts, out of their money (as if a banker doesn't work).

When Worlds Collide (1951), with Richard Derr, and produced by George Pal. The villain in this movie is yet another crotchety old rich man in a wheelchair, who offers to finance the building of a spaceship that will carry forty people to another planet to continue the human race after a rogue planet collides with and destroys the Earth. The terms he sets are: that he be allowed to be one of the forty people. He is given that promise. But at the end, the man who made that promise, who is not so young himself, wheels the financier away from the spaceship at the last minute, allowing a young married couple to go on the ship instead. He explains to the outraged finacier that this trip must be "for the young".

Charly (1968), wilth Cliff Robertson. Well directed and acted, but delivers the message that people are happier if they lack intelligence.

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  • 4 weeks later...
It's a Wonderful Life (1946), with James Stewart and Donna Reed. The villain in this movie is a crotchety old rich banker in a wheelchair, out to finaggle the working people of New Bedord, Massachusetts, out of their money (as if a banker doesn't work).

What do you think of this individualist view of It's a Wonderful Life from the Atlas Society? I think it has some merits. Individualism isn't always about praising big businessmen, though the economy would be nowhere without them, there's also the element of ordinary people, like George Bailey, making the most for themselves and not just giving in to circumstance.

I liked TWBB, though I dont particularly think it's Objectivist. I dont think it's mainly anti-capitalist either, even if the novel was. I havent read the novel, but from what I've read about it, it's quite different, from the perspective of the son, and he gets involved in socialist groups.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have to say I just saw this movie last night, and I found it downright creepy. I didn't find Plainview's character heroic in any sense, nor did I find the theme to be pro-capitalist.

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About the last half-hour of this movie got pretty crazy, but in the beginning the guy seemed to be pretty pro-capitalist until he went crazy.

How on earth? I think the folks who think this movie is pro-cpaitalist are missing the way in which Daniel Plainfield was portrayed. Mabye Plainfield claims to be a capitalist, but the depiction of him is highly, highly anti-capitalist.

Knowing that this was a book by Upton Sinclair, it now makes obvious sense. Has anyone here read The Jungle?

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Mabye Plainfield claims to be a capitalist, but the depiction of him is highly, highly anti-capitalist.

How so? Leave out the ending that shows that he's crazy and his destructive drinking, what I'm concentrating on is when he's building his oil business from almost nothing-- how's that part "anti-capitalist"?

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