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There Will Be Blood
Two-Disc Collector's Edition

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: R (For Some Violence)

Running Time: 158 Minutes

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Kevin J. O'Connor, Ciaran Hinds, Dillon Freasier

Based on "Oil!" by: Upton Sinclair

Written For The Screen and Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $34.99

Features: The Story Of Petroleum, 15 Minutes, Fishing Sequence, Haircut/Interrupted Hymn, Dailies Gone Wild, Trailers

Specs: 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Chapters (8 Chapters), Two-Disc Set

Released: April 8th, 2008

 

 

"There Will Be Blood" is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen, and it's a pretty exceptional transfer. However, there are some slight caveats that prove to be distracting at times: an abundant of edge halos, shimmering here and there and an excessive amount of noise. Contrast seems a bit too high often as well, and some of the more darkly-lit scenes were a bit too grainy for my tests. You do get used to it, but I wished these interferences were a bit more stream-lined. 

So now, it's on to the good: Robert Elswit's cinematography looks gorgeous, especially those wide exterior shots of the drilling sites and the cramped interiors of the Sunday home and church. Black levels are pretty deep, color saturation is bold and fleshtones really hit their marks. Detail is quite excellent, and the film's primary color schemes of greens and sandy, pale browns are exquisite that really capture the mood and intentions of the movie. There are some slight disappointments in this transfer, but it is still a fine image to look with all things considered.

 

"There Will Be Blood" is given the Dolby Digital 5.1 treatment, and this is a mighty track that does justice to the film's brilliant soundtrack. Right from the opening cues of Johnny Greenwood's astounding score, you're in for auditory overload. Dialogue is rich and crisp (especially Day-Lewis's screaming!), and Greenwood's music is creatively and fiercely mixed through the channels. There are also a glut of surround effects that not only enthrall, but truly encapture you: the small chipping of rocks falling in the mines, the actual drilling for oil, a key explosion involving a large drill, painful accidents in the mine and the grand finale in the bowling alley (where you might feel that Plainview is hitting a pin at you). And not to be outdone, subwoofer use is some of the most robust I've heard in ages (thanks to some parts of Greenwood's score and the oil drills) that will really get your floor shaking. 

Bass is deep, dynamic range and fidelity is astounding and everything sounds crystal clear. Remarkably, none of the sound elements overpower one another. The film's sound elements do become intense at times (when there is a lot of action going on), and thankfully this mix achieves a fine balance. This track ranks as one of the best in recent memory, and I definitely would consider it as reference quality.

Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are also included in French and Spanish. There are also subtitles in English, French and Spanish on the disc, plus English closed captions that can be accessed through your TV.  

 



Looks like P.T. Anderson is letting his latest masterpiece speak for itself, as yet again he opted not to record a commentary. In any case, the second disc of this collector's edition features some interesting material that certainly alligns itself with the spirit of the film.

Helping give some historical background is The Story Of Petroleum - an actual black and white film from 1923 that chronicles the oil business from all aspects (drilling it, prepping it for distribution) during that era. Originally a silent reel, Johnny Greenwood's haunting compositions - in Dolby Digital 5.1, no less - have been placed on to it, and the score certainly makes this nearly 26 minute piece pretty eerie. As this slice of history goes on, text inserts come up that explain how oil is tapped, terminology and that sort of thing. It's quite fascinating, and when compared to "There Will Be Blood," you will see just how accurate the production design from Jack Fisk was when it came to capturing these times. A pretty absoring inclusion.

15 Minutes is an intriguing hodgepodge of images and clips, also set to Greenwood's score. Again, it's another showcase that really gives you an idea just how well the filmmakers captured the times and this world of oil men. Clips from the actual film are shown, as well as maps, drawings, photographs and film footage from that time. The juxtaposes in this classy montage make for a pretty riveting watch.

There's also some deleted footage, without any text introductions to put things in proper context. There's the Fishing Sequence, which is a cut scene from the movie lasting a bit over six minutes. It's in Dolby Digital 5.1 and anamorphic widescreen. It is certainly an entertaining watch, but whether it adds more to the story is debatable. There's also the three minute Haircut/Interrupted Hymn sequence, in anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Surround. It's also a deleted scene in a sense, and part of it is a montage of some kind, using clips already featured in the movie. I assume it was something different the filmmakers tried in the editing room, to give a glimpse of Daniel Plainview's psyche before a major scene. We also have Dailies Gone Wild, which is essentially a blooper (followed by DVD credits). That's in anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Surround too.

Finally, there is the Teaser Trailer and Theatrical Trailer, both in anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1.
 
 

As much as I admired "No Country For Old Men," and did not mind it won the top Oscar prize, I would have personally preferred if "There Will Be Blood" snagged it. Despite polarized reactions to some of Anderson's past work, there's really no denying that this epic tale of greed, madness and human nature makes him one of the eminent American filmmakers today. (And further proof that Daniel Day-Lewis doesn't just act - he inhabits the soul of a character.) This two-disc set has a strong (if flawed) transfer, an excellent 5.1 mix and some interesting supplements. Strongly recommened.