There Will Be Blood: Explained (Plot And Ending)

What sets the drama There Will Be Blood (2007) apart from the rest of the industry is its incredible cinematography. The camerawork, scenery, and costumes are just perfect. The soundtrack is flawless, while the acting (by both Daniel-Day Lewis and Paul Dano) is some of the best in film history. With all of this in mind and without further ado, let’s take a closer look at this movie, which many claims to be one of the best ever made. Here’s the plot and ending of There Will Be Blood explained; spoilers ahead.

There Will Be Blood: What is it about?

The movie is set in the 1900s and follows a man willing to do anything to expand his oil mining business. It’s a story about power, greed, blood (family), and blood (violence).

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Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:

There Will Be Blood: Plot Explained Briefly

After the death of one of his workers, Daniel Plainview adopts the man’s orphaned son H.W. and raises him as his own. Daniel is a ruthless oil magnate, and he uses the boy to improve his image and portray himself as a family man running a family business.

Paul Sunday visits Daniel

One day, Daniel is approached by Paul Sunday, who, for a fee of $500, tells him that the lands surrounding his family farm are rich in oil. Daniel travels with HW, camps near the farm of the Sunday family and confirms there is, indeed, some oil there. All of this is set in California, near the town of Little Boston.

Meeting Eli

Daniel quickly negotiates the purchase, moves his men to start drilling, and starts working his way around the local community. His biggest two obstacles are Eli, Paul’s twin brother, who plays the role of a local religious leader, and a local farmer named Bandy, who doesn’t want to sell. Bandy is a religious man (highly influenced by Eli), and he’s convinced that Daniel is a deeply flawed man who will only bring ruin to the local community.

Henry, Bandy and Daniel and Eli’s conflict

there will be blood Eli vs Daniel

After Daniel rejects Eli’s help, several accidents befall him and his enterprise. An explosion that leaves HW deaf is just one of them.

A man visits Daniel, claiming to be his half-brother, Henry. The two get closer, but after Daniel discovers the man to be a fraud, he brutally murders him with his own bare hands. Bandy learns of this and requests that Daniel be baptized by Eli in order for him to sell his farm. During the baptism, Eli humiliates Daniel in front of the community and soon leaves for missionary work.

The plot skips to 1927, when Eli comes to Daniel to ask for financial help and even offers to sell Bandy’s farm. Daniel explains that, due to the drainage system, he no longer needs Bandy’s farm and that he has drained everything beneath it. He then proceeds to beat Eli to death while mocking him.

There Will Be Blood: Explained: Frequently Asked Questions

Were Paul and Eli the same person?

No, Paul and Eli were identical twins played by the same actor, Paul Dano. Eli wasn’t tricking anyone in a Nolan kind of way.

What happened to Paul?

Paul took his $500 and left his family to make a fortune for himself. It’s not shown what happens to him, but given his shortsightedness, it’s unlikely he had any success.

Why did HW set fire to the house?

HW had lost his hearing, and his role was replaced by Henry. Jealousy overcomes him, and in an unsuccessful attempt to kill Henry, HW sets the house on fire.

What happened to HW?

In the end, HW realizes that Daniel only adopted him to paint the warm picture of a family to enable his business. HW marries Eli’s sister and leaves feeling glad he is not related to Daniel by blood.

There Will Be Blood: Ending Explained: Why did Daniel kill Eli?

there will be blood ending

The one-line answer to why Daniel killed Eli can be narrowed down to the sole motivator of all Daniel’s actions – relentless greed.

A lot of people see the murder of Eli as unnecessary, seeing as how Daniel already has him on the ropes. What they don’t realize is that Daniel is greed personified and has a lot less control over his own urges than it appears at first. While greed often seems intelligent and thought through, the truth is that it’s more of an impulse, an urge, or even an addiction.

A person suffering from this affliction of greed always needs more. So, it’s not enough that Eli is there to beg for help; Daniel wants him to renounce his faith. Once he does that, it is, once again, not enough. He also needs to break him emotionally by bringing his “smarter” brother into the conversation. Even this is not enough, so Daniel reaches for the only thing that Eli still has – his life. Only then is he, as the character himself states in the last sentence of the movie, “finished”.

There Will Be Blood: Themes

Frontiersman Anti-Hero

Anti hero

One of the themes that made a lot of people interested in the movie was the setting. The story takes place between 1898 and 1927, one of American history’s most interesting and least explored eras. Still, while set in a similar period as 1922, themes and motifs cannot be more different. Here, brave, courageous, and capable men went west, searching for hidden riches and adventure.

Daniel and HW do everything on their own. Although a wealthy oil tycoon, he goes out there with just his son at his hand. Nowadays, a person with his schedule would need a virtual assistant just to keep track of all their tasks, but back then, the times were simpler. They played a father-and-son duo hunting quails, prospected the oil, deceived the nearby farmers, and made all the contracts themselves.

It is this kind of capable hero that has a deep place in American folklore as a frontiersman. However, Daniel is no hero. In Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift describes the political customs of a distant land by saying that they pick their officials by their honesty, not their capabilities. The king of that remote, fictional land argues that if a person is dishonest and malicious, it’s even worse if he’s capable. Daniel is just that. While competent and trustworthy, Daniel is cruel, spiteful, and aggressive.

In most other movies, we would have a clash between good and evil. Here, we have two different kinds of evil opposing each other. Eli’s a false prophet basking in the adoration of the local community, while Daniel is a ruthless oil magnate. In a way, Eli is the embodiment of vanity, while Daniel is greed personified.

Blood and Family

blood and family

One of the key aspects of the movie is its in-depth approach to the concepts of blood and family. Namely, Daniel’s only two family members that we actually see in There Will Be Blood are his adopted son HW and a person pretending to be his half-brother, Henry. Though a cruel man by nature, Daniel does treat the two as actual family members, at least for a while. Thus, the closest thing to Daniel’s family was not his biological family (not his blood).

His relationship with fake Henry ends in bloodshed after Daniel learns of his deception. He chases away and insults HW claiming that he was never his own blood. Still, we don’t know whether the origin of this was genuine or merely an alcohol- and insult-infused rant.

Daniel’s family is not the only one with troublesome history, seeing as how the plot virtually starts with Eli’s brother Paul informing Daniel of oil on his family’s farm for just $500. Paul abandons his family, never to be seen again, starting a chain of events that will lead everyone to their ruin and his brother to his death.

In the end, while harassing and beating Eli, Daniel taunts him by talking about a “generous reward” (that he embellished from $500 to $10,000) to further humiliate him. Daniel talks about how Paul used this money to start his own company (even though he’s probably making it up as he goes).

Both Daniel and Eli play the role of powerful figures. However, they crack under pressure when faced with betrayals within their own family. Eli breaks down and starts sobbing while Daniel (in a situation with his fake brother) has a violent outburst.

The Mask of Benevolence

The theme of greed in this movie is as old as time itself – in order to get immeasurable riches, one must lose his soul. However, There Will Be Blood deals with the soul in a metaphysical sense, seldom observing it through the prism of religion. One may argue that God uses Eli to punish and humble Daniel, but Eli himself is an imperfect instrument.

The deceptive path that both religion (in the form of Eli) and greed (in Daniel’s form) take is that of benevolence and concern for the community. Eli claims to be the shepherd taking care of his flock. During his first address to the local community, Daniel promises schools, the development of agriculture, and better infrastructure and makes numerous other promises he has no intention of keeping.

One of the reasons why Daniel chooses to adopt HW is because he plans to present himself as a family man and his enterprise as a family business. He is a widower, raising his son as a single father, thus trying to evoke sympathy from everyone he encounters.

During his address at the first oil well’s opening, Eli wants to be addressed as the ‘son of these hills who tended to his father’s flock’. This ambiguous statement aims to portray him as both relevant and relatable in the area.

There Will Be Blood: What was the point of the movie?

In the end, what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Usually, it results in a terrific disaster. When two deeply flawed individuals like Daniel and Eli have an encounter, they’re bound to wreak havoc on everyone who gets caught in between. This is true regardless if you observe them as villains or embodiments of vices they represent.

What were your thoughts on the plot and ending of the movie There Will Be Blood? Do drop your comments in the section below.