Monday, March 24, 2008

There Will Be Blood

A letter to a friend who had gotten me interested in seeing this movie.

Thanks, Chris, for piquing my interest in this movie at the potluck. I went last night. I liked the movie a lot. It reminded me, in a way, of Rand's play, Night of January 16th. In that play which takes place in a courtroom, a jury is chosen to sit on the stage. A man is accused of murder. The idea of the drama is that evidence is presented on both sides and you cannot know for sure if he did it or not. Rand's idea is to have people drawn to their verdict by means of their "sense of life." And the juries over the years have decided guilty or not guilty on both sides of the fence.

In There Will Be Blood my sense of life placed me with the oil man. But, he was skewed by something that happened in his childhood that had him hate people and want a family - his view of family was not that of growing, living human beings, but that of a thing. He granted unyielding loyalty to his family so long as they were his family. Also, he didn't see competition as a way to have himself grow and get stronger, but as a call to destroy his competitor. For some, his lack of "humanity" will be enough to negate his accomplishments even though the "humanity" side of himself and the community that grew up around him would not have existed except for his accomplishments. This movie, for me, demonstrates the dependence of religion on production, civilization on raw ambition, etc. It takes someone with oversized ambition to accomplish something on the order of the oilman.

This was definitely a movie worth seeing. And, I notice that I am more positive about this movie this morning than I was last evening after I saw it.

1 comment:

principlex said...

In light of developments this fall in the wake of the financial debacle due to the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage bubble plus an article I read by Alex Epstein on The Standard Oil Company published this summer in The Objective Standard, I have changed my view on this movie.

When I saw the movie I identified with the enormous determination it took for the oil man to produce the oil. I was disturbed by his treatment of his son, the murdering of the guy who defrauded himself to hitch a ride to success with the oilman, and the murdering of the local pastor who clearly was a monumental fraud and the slimiest of characters to have in the community the production of oil had fostered.

I tried to understand the industrialist in order to grasp why he acted the way he did to his "son" who decided to leave to start his own business. The oilman banished him from his life forever since he always wanted to "kill" his competition. There was no understanding him. He held toxic ideas about people.

The upshot of these plot elements is that the viewer is left that capitalists are evil human beings when it comes to dealing with people. They are predators.

This is patently a lie. The predator doesn't last long in a truly free economy for the simple reason that dealing with them is such a negative (he has to defraud them which is a crime) that people either prosecute him or avoid him and take their business elsewhere. Consequently, it is hard for the predator to succeed as he causes a phalanx of resistors and detractors. Only in an economy that is not free is it possible for predators to exist.

It the anti-capitalist Left that propounds this traditional Marxist view of capitalists.

Thus I change my evaluation of this movie. It is an interesting story, but not one that forwards the morality that gives rise to capitalism and further it paints the capitalist as evil and totally self-serving.

I thank Alex Epstein (Ayn Rand Institute) and his exposition on John D. Rockefeller for supporting me to get clear on this matter.