Welcome to Framed, a column at Cinematical that celebrates the artistry of cinema -- one frame at a time.
When Paul Thomas Anderson sent production designer and art director Jack Fisk a script for his 2007 feature, There Will Be Blood, he included a portfolio of over one hundred photos for inspiration. I could have easily collected the same number of screenshots in preparation for this column. Anderson's directorial prowess has proven he's one of the most promising filmmakers of this generation. His technical skill has been compared to legendary auteurs like Kubrick, and his improvisational style has an organic, realistic feel that is so intuitive -- audiences connect with his work in an almost effortless way. The director has the ability to capture the beauty in an otherwise ugly landscape -- a frightening place where the sweat and blood of laborers rests side by side with an optimistic horizon. Vast, open spaces feel overwhelming, intimate and claustrophobic all at once -- at times becoming the personification of Blood's cast, but always reminding us of the dual, deceptive nature of life itself.
Anderson is also a favorite amongst actors who thrive on the freedom to explore their characters -- to be as instinctual as he is . How else do you explain Daniel Day-Lewis as oil tycoon Daniel Plainview? There's a stillness and simplicity to Anderson's work that is a perfect match for the actor's complex and discriminating style. Neither makes an arbitrary move. In Blood's world, another actor would have been swallowed whole by the stretch of fields and open sky -- yet Day-Lewis shines. He is transformed by the land in various ways. First, as a prospector digging into the ground with his hands, covered in grime and barely recognizable when we first meet him. Eventually, he becomes the same as the slick, dark blood of the earth -- the thing both highly sought after and resented -- the sludge and stench of greed driving everything around him away.