The Oscar for Best Picture may have gone to No Country for Old Men
, but there's no doubt in my mind that Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood
will go down in history as the supreme achievement in American filmmaking of 2007, if not one of the greatest films of the current decade. Yes, I didn't just drink the milkshake
, I also drank the Kool-Aid, and my ongoing obsession with the film is now in its fifth month.
It won't come as a surprise, then, that I've already spent significant time with the 2-disc DVD set, due in stores on April 8. There Will Be Blood
is the kind of film for which the cliche "instant classic" was invented, and the pleasures of Daniel Day-Lewis' misanthropic oilman Daniel Plainview, Paul Dano's snivelling faith healer Eli Sunday, Robert Elswit's Oscar-winning cinematography, Jonny Greenwood's haunting score, and Anderson's endlessly quotable dialogue only deepen with repeated viewings. After having seen it over a dozen times, There Will Be Blood
still strikes me as a perfect film.
With that out of the way, it has to be said that the extras that come with the two-disc set are a little thin. Sure, a fan's appetite is never sated (especially when it comes to a movie about greed), but if you were hoping for commentary tracks and behind-the-scenes footage, disappointment awaits. According to Cigarettes and Red Vines, PTA has forsworn director's commentary and scrapped a "Making-Of" featurette shot by David Lynch's son Austin: "It’s just a bunch of people in a desert standing around making a movie." We're left with outtakes, trailers, and accumulated research materials.
Daniel Day-Lewis and baby H.W. in an outtake from the DVD extrasParamount Vantage
The extras begin with 15 Minutes
, a montage that juxtaposes period stills and black-and-white footage from PTA's research with scenes from the movie. Much like Moby-Dick
isn't just an epic allegory but also a handbook for whaling, There Will Be Blood
provides something of an overview of early oil technologies, and the 15 Minutes
feature goes a long way to prove how authentic the film's production design is. If it weren't for the black-and-white of the historical footage, it would be easy to confuse it with clips from the movie. A few tantalizing shots from outtakes or cut scenes make this feature especially interesting to the Blood
A couple of well-edited teasers and trailers are delicious as quick summations of the film but don't add much to the overall appreciation. The juciest treat on the bonus disc is Gone Fishing, a six-minute sequence about a setback in the drilling that features Mary Sunday and Fletcher Hamilton as well as a surprising confrontation between Abel Sunday and Daniel Plainview. Anybody obsessed by the film will be glad to have this, but the decision to leave it out of the final cut was correct: the sequence is overly explanatory, slows the story down, and makes Abel seem more courageous than he appears in the rest of the movie. Still, it's worth it just to hear Plainview say, "I think Eli is a lunatic."
A quick scene in which H.W. cuts his father's hair, a montage of alternate takes, and an amusing outtake from the steakhouse scene round out the package. There's also a half-hour educational film about the oil business from 1923 that gives some context but ultimately doesn't add much to the 15 Minutes
I respect PTA's decision to keep all behind-the-scenes footage out of sight -- too many movies have been permanently altered in my mind by overly solicitous directors divulging secrets they should have better kept to themselves -- but a few more materials surrounding the film would have been nice. As it stands, fans are bound to come across deleted scenes and outtakes on YouTube (like this campfire scene) that aren't included on the disc and wonder, like Plainview pointing his finger at the Bandy Tract, "Why don't I own this?" Ultimately though, these are quibbles. An absent making-of featurette doesn't change the fact that at the moment, There Will Be Blood is scene for scene the most compulsively rewatchable movie in my collection.