VIDEO ESSAY: 2001/The Dawn of Blood

Video
by Nelson Carvajal
April 4, 2012 8:36 AM
4 Comments
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Paul Thomas Anderson is a director who wears his cinematic influences on his sleeve. From sprawling dramas that echo Robert Altman’s work (Short Cuts, Nashville) to the signature camera movements found in Martin Scorsese movies (most notably Scorsese’s Copacabana Nightclub tracking shot in Goodfellas, which Anderson employs during a television studio walkthrough in Magnolia), the filmography of Paul Thomas Anderson is the direct result of passionate cinephilia merged with mastery in filmmaking. And Anderson’s last film There Will Be Bloodis the kind of staggering, challenging and singular piece of cinema that launches a director into the stratosphere, to be hailed as an “auteur.”

In Blood, it’s the influential work of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey that permeates the body of the film. To say that There Will Be Bloodis only about the dawn of twentieth century capitalism is about as valid as describing 2001: A Space Odyssey as merely an astronaut’s adventure tale. Consider: Anderson’s masterpiece opens with a wordless, quietly haunting sequence, which in many ways mirrors “The Dawn of Man” section in 2001. Next, both films heavily rely on unnerving, sweeping pieces of music to drive key scenes; in 2001, György Ligeti’s “Requiem” brings malice to the mysterious black monolith, while Jonny Greenwood’s disconcerting Blood score suggests a volatile turn of the century American frontier. Finally, if one considers the framing of certain shots—apes around a black monolith, workers around an oil derrick—and the implications they carry, it’s obvious that Anderson is channeling Kubrick’s powerful visualization on the primordial nature of humanity, amidst the frail, dangerous act of discovery.

Nelson Carvajal is an independent digital filmmaker, writer and content creator based out of Chicago, Illinois. His digital short films usually contain appropriated content and have screened at such venues as the London Underground Film Festival. Carvajal runs a blog called FREE CINEMA NOW which boasts the tagline: "Liberating Independent Film And Video From A Prehistoric Value System."

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4 Comments

  • ds | May 8, 2013 2:08 AMReply

    Probably the best video essay on pressplay. Would love to look at more such cinematic studies.

  • jacetoon | April 9, 2012 5:41 PMReply

    Thank you for affirming that I'm not crazy.

  • A D Jameson | April 8, 2012 3:03 PMReply

    I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who's noticed this!

    http://bigother.com/2010/07/26/there-will-be-2001/

    Cheers, Adam

  • Eli | April 4, 2012 1:21 PMReply

    I think the composition of Plainview squatting next to the fire (over which the date first appears) more closely resembles the last shot you pulled from 2001. Similarly, the way Kubrick shoots and edits the bone flying through the air more closely relates to the way PTA captured the oil bursting up through the rig at the beginning of the rig fire set piece than the seemingly random angle of the pieces of the rig falling down into the well.

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