I've seen a lot of movies in my short life, but I've only just started to find out the science behind how movies are shot. Cinematography is not only a science but an art form all by itself. This movie taught me exactly that. From the beginning shot to the last scene I was mesmerized at how amazingly well There Will Be Blood was filmed. It still astounds me today. There are a few examples that show how a movie is supposed to be made and this movie has all of them. There Will Be Blood is about the early businesses of America and the darkness of how they were run. Daniel Day-Lewis portrays a greedy oil driller named Daniel Plainview who will go to whatever means to get to the top. He encounters frauds, religious zealots, and even adopts a son through his journey but never loses sight of the power and money. This movie shows the true essence of early 1900s business.
First thing that stood out to me was the beginning of the movie. There was at least ten minutes of no dialogue and all the actions dictated how the story would be told for the rest of the movie. The camera work is what shines here as Plainview is first starting out trying to find oil in the middle of nowhere. It shifts back and forth between him in the hole and the outside world just at the top. The framing shows the risks all around him and almost tempts him to get hurt, which he does. He falls bat into the hole while trying to get down and is left to drag himself not only out of the hole but into town for help. This whole scene demonstrates how to tell the beginning of a story with no words or music.
Another scene is when an oil tower he had built explodes into fire and oil. The scene starts out with Plainview's son sitting atop the tower watching the drilling process. In an instant, fire erupts from the hole and blasts his son onto the ground. Later we find that his sons becomes deaf as a result. As the scene progresses Plainview rushes to his son's aid and moves him into a building to safety. Cinematography portrays his two responsibilities as he has to choose between caring for his son or for his drill. The framing moves quickly to go back and forth and back to his expressions. Just when you think that Plainview has made his decision the camera moves to the thing that he decides not to care for which is his son. The camera zooms in on both Plainview and his son and shows us the agony in both father and son and then turns to the agony between man and machine as he rushes to the drill.
In There Will Be Blood cinematography is the tool that tells the story. It is very apparent from scene one that there will be very little dialogue and more action. Even at the end of Plainviews life he is confronted by a much older son that wants to start up his own company. The camera puts us right in the middle of the tense confrontation and actually gives us both perspective as it rotates from the son's side of the desk to his father's side. Robert Elswit was the man behind the camera that tells such a harrowing tale of greed and manipulation. He shows us that a camera can tell the story rather then words.