“There Will Be Blood” is Compellingly Good Cinema

As I mentioned in my sermon recently, I think the film, There Will Be Blood, is a film worth seeing for several reasons. One good reason alone is the truly mesmerizing portrayal of the main character, an oilman named Daniel Plainview, by this year’s well-deserved Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis. If you particularly enjoy watching first-rate acting of a complex and compelling character, Daniel Day-Lewis will not disappoint you here. He absolutely carried this film (which is also due to some excellent directing by Paul Thomas Anderson).

But another reason why I recommend seeing this unique film is because it is an illustration so true to life on many levels, particularly when it comes to how greed works, …and ruins. In Daniel Day-Lewis’ character, we see how greed can initially hide itself in a person’s life. It looks like a father providing for his son. It looks like a businessman providing for employees. It looks like an entrepreneur providing for a community. It looks like opportunity a good man rises to meet. But then the more he allows his hidden greed to control him is the degree he allows it to blatantly enslave him. In the ensuing path of his life it makes him think he is acquiring more, while in reality he is left with nothing. The more power and wealth he gets, the more he still wants and the more of a pathetic monster of personal misery he becomes.

Obviously our success does indeed provide important things for our lives, our families, and our communities. But unless our greed that often drives our success is checked, the good provided by hard work is often negated by a greater destruction later in how we treat others after greed has gained its controlling influence in our hearts. Impatience. Arrogance. Destructive words. Anger. Hatefulness. Violence. Our drive to acquire more and more is, more and more, leaving us with nothing in the end.

The bizarre and unstable preacher in this film is played by Paul Dano (also the bizarre and unstable teenage son in last year’s Academy Award winning success, Little Miss Sunshine—I wonder what he’s like in real life). Perhaps this is just one more typical attempt by “Hollywood” to portray Christians as, well, bizarre and unstable. Discerning Christians will catch, however, that this “example” of Christianity is a great example of a fraud. Like Daniel Day-Lewis’ character, he is equally controlled by a hidden greed in his heart. A greed for power. A greed for money. A greed for more. And in the end he is left with nothing as, in the name of greed, he blatantly renounces his fraud faith.

A film worth seeing because it shows us something we usually keep hidden. And as such, There Will Be Blood provides a riveting parable for our day, and for our hearts.

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