It seems to me that Stanley Kubrick’s stylistic DNA runs all through Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood. Someone may have mentioned this before, and if so, I apologize for being redudant. But it’s all there, not just the epic scope, but the use of wide angle lenses, the artfully composed long shots, the period detail, and the music, half of which sounds vaguely like the monolith from 2001 and the other half of which is classical in nature. I think this is a great turn for PTA, getting away from the California pop atmosphere, and embracing something a lot more serious.
When I first saw There Will Be Blood the very first thing I thought was “Man, this could have been a Kubrick film”. I agree with you in saying it’s a great style for PTA, however I do love all his previous films even with the “California Pop Atmosphere”.
I agree with the bulk of what you’re saying, but the reason I didn’t get Kubrick vibes from There Will Be Blood was Anderson’s lack of Kubrick-esque framing. One of the first things I look for in a Kubrick film is his angles: everything comes to sharp, square points and 90 degree angles (e.g. the hall of the jail in A Clockwork Orange, in which the angle is so head-on, every ceiling lamp lines up perfectly with the one behind it; or the hotel in The Shining, and the way in which every pillar in the lobby creates a frame-within-the-frame for actions within the scene). While most of your points hit the similarities right on the nose, I feel like framing is such an integral part of Kubrick’s style that Anderson’s piece didn’t evoke Kubrickian imagery for me at all.
Sully, that’s true, except for the bowling alley in the last scene. That uses that kind of deep perspective.
Deep perspective, yes, but you’ll have to remind me if he uses that straight-on look—I saw There Will Be Blood back in theaters, so if I’ve forgotten, you’ll forgive me. But, had Kubrick shot it, the establishing shots at the very least would be a head-long shot perfectly centering the alley itself.
I just rewatched the dvd, and I’m no cinematographer, but it looks like a Kubrick angle to me. I can’t say for sure though.
I saw nothing in that film that reminded me of Kubrick. Anderson is nowhere near his level and the film is good not great.
You are right Anderson is no where near Kubrick. But every meal you eat do you say this is not the best meal I have ever had. I doubt you do. I feel Anderson’s films have been great enough that he has earned the right to be compared to Kubrick even if falling short because in my opinion everyone falls short.
I will have to rewatch There Will Be Blood before making any detailed observations relating it to Kubrick but thinking back I can somewhat see what you are saying.
For me, I see more Malick (and not just because Jack Fisk worked on Blood, but that doesn’t hurt in terms of a comparison). But there is a sense of that visual ambition so I see where you’re coming from Justin.
Drew and Richard, yes, there’s something “grander” about Blood. Not to write off what I called the California pop atmosphere, but it’s refreshing to see Anderson work without the safety net of a classic rock soundtrack or flashy camera movements. He’s more of a grownup now.
@Deming: I see more Malick too, it’s something about the overall film and feel of the film coming together in an almost apex type feel in those last shots – similar to something like Badlands.
The score which crawls up your spine like a spider is reminiscent of that of The Shining for that effect.
I have to agree with Richard. For me Malik seems a more likely influence on that film while Boogie Nights and Magnolia have more of a Altman/Scorsese feel.
I agree completely with the comparison to Kubrick for There Will Be Blood. It’s all about stark, simple imagery that’s often in the direct center of the frame. Luckily, PTA rarely uses (if ever?) a zoom lens so he has his distance from Kubrick.
I think of Malick as being more sentimental than Kubrick, and Blood is completely un-sentimental.
I’ve always had the notion that PTA was adapting styles on each of his movies… Scorsese in Boogie Nights, Altman in Magnolia, and Kubrick in There Will Be Blood. Not sure about Punch-Drunk Love, someone with a better eye could take a guess. Maybe that’s why I like Punch-Drunk so much, though really all his films are great (even Hard Eight is decent for a first attempt).
“Scorsese in Boogie Nights” hahaha seriously thats pretty much the porn version of goodfellas. But i disagree with you OP on there will be blood being a Kubrick styled film. For one id like to say there arent a lot of directors nowadays who arent influenced by Kubrick so of coarse things like the first 15 minutes having no talking but you could also see it in no country with still shots of the landscape like 2001. There will be blood in my mind will always be a PTA styled movie its his and his alone.
“but the use of wide angle lenses, the artfully composed long shots”
no sure i agree with you here also. Kubrick was a photographer and that always showed in his films. The way he did long shots cant really be replicated by anyone else its just part of his style of film making same way PTA has his own style we’ve just never scene him on such a grand scale before.
The abrupt ending of There Will Be Blood reminding me of Kubrick right away. Similar to the ending of Eyes Wide Shut.
Absolutely not. I don’t see any resemblance to Kubrick, and just because there’s static compositions and the panoramic use of vistas a la 2001’s dawn of man segment does not mean any influence there. Sorry to be so straight forward, but I beg to differ with people who read too much into PTA when there isn’t a lot to read from. See Scorsesse on boogie nights, see Altman on Magnolia, Jacques Demi on Punch Drunk Love, Nicholas Roeg on Hard Eight. TWBB is his finest picture, but I don’t like it as much as his others.
Abrupt endings? only Kubrick gets away with it.
“Abrupt endings? only Kubrick gets away with it.”
when i think of abrupt endings only a couple come to mind and thats fargo and no country. to me i dont think eyes wide shut really had an abrupt ending. their conversation at the end was clearly going for a resolution by rapping up the themes and meaning to the film. Kind of a dead give away.
why is Fargo an abrupt ending?No country come close to an abrupt ending…
I will go with what Alanedit had to say.
No Justin, no Kubrick.
I just don’t see it. Further, as Alanedit pointed out, he’s still far too drunk on his chosen influences, (not sure if that was your point, AE. It is mine) for my taste. The fact of his greatness has yet to drop itself upon me. Fwiw, my favorite is Punch Drunk Love. The next film will be his Malick film, then?
The reason I don’t see Malick is that Blood is not an interior film.
Bringing it back to the original topic. The more i think about it, i really do see alot of Kubrick in TWBB. Specifically a lot of influence coming from 2001 via long (literally and visually) silent scenes. i will have to go back and watch TWBB with the Kubrick notion in mind.
Now, I’ll just assume that you mean location-wise:
If so, Days Of Heaven is almost all exterior, the film that Blood resembles the most.
Badlands, the two protagonists escape to live in the nature.
Thin Red Line, all exterior, jungle.
New World, all about nature.
Malick’s films are all about man in nature/man vs. nature.
But if you mean interior in terms of getting into the heads of the characters the way that Malick does with voice over,
then that’s a different thing. Then you’re right, that doesn’t happen in Blood.
In those terms Blood is not an interior film. We never get inside Daniel Plainview’s head – we just see his (sometimes appalling) actions.
And that’s what’s great about Blood actually, there is no psychological explaination available to us, as to why Plainview acts the way he does.
So, Justin Vicari, you could be wrong, you could be right,
depending on what you meant.
Yes I meant subjective interiority. Use of exteriors isn’t very much of a distinguishing feature. But I can see how you might have thought I meant that.
Sorry to stray from the original topic: I’ll just say this:
There’s no denying the Malick touches of There Will Be Blood’s magic hour shots. You don’t see magic hour shots
very much in films because it’s such a precarious thing to get right.
Even the scene where the oil-tower catches on fire feels Malick-y (the burning of the crops in Days Of Heaven)
It’s not a science, it’s a feeling.
Justin Biberkopf sees Kubrick in There Will Be Blood, I see flashes of Malick.
No one’s saying that There Will Be Blood’s 100 percent Malick,
but the spirit of Malick is all over There Will Be Blood.