Earlier today, I finally found the time to watch “There Will Be Blood” a film about a silver miner turned oil tycoon’s rise to power during early California oil boom. Much of the story involves Daniel Plainview, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, and his efforts to develop an oil empire along with his conflicts with Eli who founds a Church that goes at odds with Plainview’s goals.
The subplots in “There Will Be Blood” involved Plainview’s interactions with his adopted son and his then-brother. Plainview takes in his son when the child’s real father was killed in a work-related accident and he goes on to raise him as if he was his own son and as a business partner. Despite the character’s ruthless business practices, he still does genuinely care about his son, HW, especially when he loses his hearing by first trying to find doctors to heal him and then sending him away to learn sign language. However, the audience learns Daniel’s reason for taking in HW was mostly for business reasons and the emotional bonding was just an afterthought.
Plainview also cares about his family when he finds his supposed brother looking for work. He takes him on and begins confiding his goals to him in confidence but slowly discovers that the man may be an impostor when the brother fails to remember important locales from his hometown. Plainview is horrified brutally deals with the impostor when he learns the truth but the audience later sees him weeping when reading his brother’s diary and old family photos.
Daniel Day-Lewis portrays Daniel Plainview as an ambitious man who is willing to go to lengths to achieve success. He presents Plainview as a man who is willing to lie to gain a better deal, who is willing to convert to a religion simply for the sake of acquiring property, and the way he toys with his enemies. At the same time he presents some redeeming qualities by the way he cares for his adopted son, despite initially seeing him as a selling point for his oil business, and by the way he treated his “brother” before learning the truth.
In the end, however Plainview becomes consumed by his success which has cost him his family, his sanity, and health despite living in great success in a mansion and achieving his goals he confided to his fake brother. This is why it was fitting for the character’s final line to be “I’m finished” after realising that he has lost himself and everything he values despite becoming extremely wealthy in the process.