Read through the following questions and choose your top three you would like to discuss. Take a note of these. When you group convenes you will each contribute one question for discussion.
In your groups – spend 5-10 minutes or so discussing the questions assigned. Make sure your group appoints people to the following roles:
- chair (your job is to keep the discussion on track).
Film Discussion Questions:
1. Philip French said, “The film’s resonantly Old Testament title comes from the seventh chapter of Exodus where God, via Moses, orders Aaron to smite the waters so that ‘they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt.’ What is the significance of the film’s title?
2. What are some interesting components of the opening scene that stand out? How does the opening scene introduce us to the characters and plot of There Will Be Blood?
3. Do you think the score of the film enhanced or detracted from the film?
4. Some critics have described this film as an epic? Do you agree or disagree?
5. Peter Bradshaw said, “But Plainview has one vulnerability: he has an adopted son, named HW, whom he loves and yet exploits. What is the importance of this relationship? Do you think his feeling toward his son is genuine? What changes their relationship?
6. Daniel Plainview said, “I want to earn enough money so I can get away from everyone…’I hate people … ‘I have a compulsion to succeed … I see the worst in people and things’.” What do these statements reveal about his character and his motivations? How does this quote characterize Plainview’s relationships with others in his life?
7. Kenneth Turan said, “There Will Be Blood is western to its core, presenting a vast, uncaring environment that dwarfs the grasping men who are determined to wrest hidden wealth from the earth.” How does the landscape and earth become a character in this film?
8. McCarthy said, “The film’s zealous interest in a man so alienated from his brethren can be alternately read as a work abnormally fascinated by cold, antisocial behavior, or as a deeply humanistic tract on the wages of misanthropy. How do you view Plainview?
9. McCarthy said, “The movie speaks of oil’s savage, entrepreneurial pre-history; in one haunted man, it shows our dysfunctional relationship with capital and natural resources, and even hints at a grim future in which our addiction to oil can no longer be fed.” Is this still evident today?
10. French said, “ In early 20th-century California Plainview is set up against a young, charismatic preacher, Eli Sunday, fanatical creator of the Church of the Third Revelation.” What is ironic about Plainview’s and Eli Sunday’s name?
11. French says,” We gradually realize that Plainview and Eli are in their different ways deranged, and each is out to control or destroy the other.” How are they similar and different from each other?
12. In regard to Daniel Plainview film critic, French said, “Is this the product of a psychosis or is it what unbridled capitalism in its extreme form does to its exponents? Are such people and their visions necessary for human progress?
13. Pete Travers said, “(Plainview’s) out to show how violence of the flesh and the spirit is hard-wired into the American character. Like Charles Foster Kane, Daniel Plainview is the dark underside of the American success story, or, if you want to extend the metaphor, of America itself. He rapes and pillages in the name of progress and winds up estranged from the human species he has long ago forgotten to call his own. How is this show in the film?
14. PeteTravers said, “(Plainview’s) enemies are man and God. And in the film’s final section, a rush of scorching brutality, Plainview takes his revenge on both. His last words burst forth with biblical exultation: “I’m finished.” Why are these lines significant? How do you view the climax of the film?
15. Daniel is a true sociopath who attempts to crush anyone who will stand in his way in. Do you agree?