Last night, The Professor and I watched the movie, There Will be Blood. It focused on the bestial life of fictional oilman Daniel Plainview who lived in Texas during the early 20th century. I am neither recommending the movie, nor am I advising it not be watched. Movie reviewing is not my forte. But there were some scenes that saddened, sickened, and shocked me to the point that I just need to “talk” about the flick. Not so much the scenes, but the truth that pressed against my heart as I watched.
To say that there were just a few characters that made some bad choices would be a gross understatement. But, there were two characters whose choices graphically depicted the depravity of man. Those characters were Plainview, who was driven by greed, hatred, and emptiness; and a preacher named Eli, a false prophet/healer who built his ministry on legalism, lies, and fear.
The movie’s first scenes showed Plainview mining for silver. While Plainview’s ruthlessness was established early, so was his humanity. He adopted a baby boy whose father was killed while working in one of Plainview’s mines. He showed concern toward his workers. His loneliness was also evident. And though the writers never delved deeply into his past, he was obviously a broken man…a broken man whose heart could not be filled by the same money that filled his pockets. A broken man who could not prevent accidents from happening, men from dying, or his son from being injured.
Plainview was a broken man and he knew it. But he didn’t know how to fix himself. Worse yet, for a long time, he didn’t know that he could not fix himself. The last scene in the movie showed him as drunken, angry, deranged, and shattered soul.
Throughout the movie, there were plenty opportunities for the preacher, Eli, to have walked beside Plainview and share with him the beautiful news of the One who was sent to heal the broken hearted. He didn’t. I don’t think he knew it himself. Instead, he tried to make a name for himself off of Plainview’s success. Eli wanted money, fame, and more members to fill the pews in his church. In fact, one of the scenes I found most disturbing was when Plainview was coerced into being baptized as part of a land deal.
While Plainview and Eli are fictional characters, there are so many real men and women like them. So many hurting. So many being deceived. So many deceiving. So many who know no hope. And, so many withholding hope or offering false hope. That’s why I told The Professor that this had to have been one of the most heart-breaking movies I have ever seen. It reminded me that life without Christ is void. It has no meaning. Without Christ, victory is an illusion and failure wrecks a soul.
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:3-8 (NIV)