There Will Be Blood

Movie: Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.

Inciting Event: Paul Sunday arrives at one of oil prospector Daniel Plainview’s successful wells and propositions him to buy the family farm.

Note, that a ton of stuff has happened to Daniel prior to this scene. Indeed, we see a whole mini-story (with no dialogue), showing Daniel’s rise to success and his adoption of his son H.W. But the Inciting Event does not happen until 19 minutes in, when the main conflict arrives in the form of Paul Sunday.

First Plot Point: After verifying there is indeed oil on the Sunday land, Daniel buys it. This is his entry into the “adventure world” of the main conflict, which centers around this particular well and the Sunday family’s fanatical religious views.

First Pinch Point: When the first well gushes in, H.W. is thrown by the initial blast and loses his hearing. Daniel is at a loss how to deal with his “son and partner” now that he is deaf and refuses to speak. Daniel lashes out at Eli (Paul’s brother), who claims to be a faith healer, and refuses to pay him the promised $5,000 for his church.

Midpoint: A man claiming to be Henry Plainview, Daniel’s illegitimate half-brother, arrives. Although this is a relatively episodic plot point, it is what brings Daniel’s journey into focus. He tells Henry, in a Moment of Truth, that he doesn’t like other people. Shortly thereafter, he sends his son away to a deaf-mute boarding school, refusing even to see him off on the train.

Second Pinch Point: Daniel pieces together clues about Henry and realizes he lied about being his brother. In fact, the real Henry died, and this man took his place, hoping to find work with Daniel. When Daniel gets Henry to admit this, he kills him. He is then blackmailed by the one hold-out landowner (necessary for Daniel complete his pipeline to the sea) into being baptized at Eli’s church.

Third Plot Point: There isn’t a particularly clear Third Plot Point, in terms of a personal low moment, although we see Daniel spiraling deeper and deeper into madness. However, there is a clear turning point in the story when it jumps forward several years. H.W. marries Mary Sunday and splits with his father, acrimoniously on Daniel’s part, when he tells H.W. the truth about his parentage and disowns him.

Climax: Then the plot narrows down to the final confrontation between Daniel and Eli Sunday. Eli comes to beg Daniel to buy one last piece of land, in order to fulfill his debts. Daniel reveals the land has already been drained of its oil through the adjacent wells and is useless.

Climactic Moment: Daniel beats Eli to death with a bowling pin.

Resolution: There isn’t much of a resolution, save a final double entendre from Daniel: “I’m finished!”

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