The WGF Blog:

Dispatches from the far reaches of the WGF.

This Week’s Script Cavalcade: There Will Be Blood

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This week we’ll fix our screenwriterly sights upon and scrutinize Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 historical-drama There Will Be Blood. This is the go-to script if you’re looking to craft nigh-irredeemable and despicable anti-heroes that enrapture and cannily capture your attention throughout. One’s fingertips start to smoke as you can’t thumb to the last page fast enough.

The script regales the Faustian cautionary tale of a self-made oilman and his unscrupulous rise to success. A profile of a man propelled by all-consuming oil gluttony. Trampling any sense of decency or moral redemption as our protagonist, Daniel Plainfield, gallops to the apex of capitalistic gain.

An inextinguishable conflagration burns within the man. And threatens to engulf him fully.

And his appetites for more and more pave his descent and eventual downfall.

The screenwriter taps into time-tested tropes and brings us a tragic figure of Citizen Kane-ian proportions. Daniel Plainfield is an overly ambitious man. A fascinating figure who has eagerly exchanged his humanity for an excess of wealth and financial might. Plainview is avaristic and single-focused to the point of near villainous caricature. But under that artifice of undiluted evil, we’re given glimpses of the character’s complexity and can start to glean glimmers of dissonance that run contrary to his worse money-hungry qualities. Despite his many dissolute shortcomings, we’d be remiss to not recognize his praiseworthy attributes: The sense of familial responsibility, his unflagging work ethic, and his nous for resourcefulness. He’s still a brazen bastard. But you can’t help but to sympathize with the reprobate a bit. And take pity upon this slouched beast hamstrung by greed, cravenness, and paranoia.

In this one particular scene, Daniel displays an avuncular protectiveness toward a little girl he learns is being mistreated by her father Abel. It’s these rare glimpses of virtue that keep him from being totally written off as completely forsaken and morally unsalvageable.

The script boasts a wide array of other capable characteristics along with the strong character development. The dialogue crackles with historical certitude. A meticulous attention to detail is evident from the exchanges. It’s unmistakably veracious and lends a real aura of authenticity to the verboseness of the piece. The characters speak with a particular patois that reflects a convincing credibility to the era we’re inhabiting for 130 pages. The scenes bristle with the evocative slang of the zeitgeist. And it’s a medley to the ears.

Slurp up this lulu of a line. A certified classic.

The script sits in the cavernous wells of our library. Waiting for you to strike it rich with new writerly acumen. It’s a welcome bowling pin cudgel to the cranium for any shrewd screenwriter worth their salt. A gushing derrick of delights.

And when you’re done wallowing around in the moral muck, have a go at these scads of screenplays newly arrived in our scriptly stockpile:

  • National Geographic’s Genius about the life and times of Albert Einstein.
  • Well-received romantic-comedy The Big Sick penned by husband and wife writer duo Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon.
  • 2009’s animated jamboree Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller based upon the children’s classic written by Judi and Ron Barrett.
  • Quentin Tarantino’s samurai swashbuckling dosey-doe Kill Bill Vol 2.

And if none of these scintillating nonesuch scripts strikes the fancies, then feel free to dilly-dally around our database until something does.

I’m finished too.