The last scene of There Will Be Blood is one of the most gut-wrenching, memorable finales in recent film history. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, the scene features just two characters: Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Eil Sunday (Paul Dano). We pick up the action about midway through the scene:
ELI I would like a one hundred thousand dollar signing bonus plus the five that is owed with interest. DANIEL That's only fair. ELI ...I am a false prophet and God is a superstition. If that's what you believe, then I will say it. DANIEL Say it like you mean it. ELI Daniel... DANIEL Say it like it's your sermon. ELI This is foolish. DANIEL ... ELI "I AM A FALSE PROPHET. GOD IS A SUPERSTITION." Is that fine? DANIEL Those areas have been drilled. ELI ...what? DANIEL Those Areas Have Been Drilled. ELI No, they haven't. DANIEL It's called drainage. I own everything around it.......so I get everything underneath it. ELI But there are no derricks there. This is the Bandy tract. Do you understand? DANIEL Do you? I drink your water, Eli. I drink it up. Everyday. I drink the blood of lamb from Bandy's tract. ELI ahuh. Eli take another drink...and then begins to break down and CRY and CRY and sob like a baby... ELI Oh, Daniel...please... I'm in desperate times...I need a friend...I feel the walls closing in... I'VE SINNED...I NEED HELP...I'm a SINNER... I've let the Devil grab hold of me in ways that I never imagined! I'm so full of sin. DANIEL The Lord sometimes challenges us, doesnt' he? ELI ohhhh yes he duz. yes he duzzzzzaaa! aaaaawhoa. HE'S COMPLETELY FAILED TO ALERT ME TO THE RECENT PANIC IN OUR ECONOMY AND THIS. I MUST HAVE THIS. ...I must have this...I've invested...my investments have...oh, Daniel, I won't bore you, but I - IF I COULD GRAB THE LORDS HAND FOR HELP I WOULD, BUT HE DOES THESE THINGS ALL THE TIME, THESE MYSTERIES THAT HE PRESENTS AND WHILE WE WAIT...WHILE WE WAIT...wait for his word... DANIEL is HOLDING A LOOK ON ELI; DANIEL You're not the chosen brother, Eli. It was Paul who was chosen. He found me and he told me about your land. You're a fraud. ELI Why are you talking about Paul? don't say this...don't say this to me, Daniel. DANIEL I did what your brother couldn't. I broke you and I beat you. It was Paul who told me about you. He's the prophet. He's the smart one. He knew what was there and he found me to take it out of the ground. He SMACKS Eli across the face. DANIEL STOP CRYING YOU SNIVELING ASS. STOP YOUR NONSENSE. You're just the younger brother, and you'll always be the younger brother, Eli...and that land has been had...YOU HAVE NOTHING. YOU LOSE. YOU IDIOT, YOU LOSE. ELI If you take this lease on the Bandy lot, the Church would - DANIEL DRAINAGE! DRAINAGE, ELI! DRAINED DRY, YOU BOY. If you have a milkshake and I have a milkshake and I have a straw and my straw reaches ACCCRROSSSSSSSS the room starts to drink your milkshake: I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! I DRINK IT UP. ELI Don't bully me Daniel, please. HELP ME. PLEASE. MY FAITH HAS BEEN LOST AND I NEED A NEW WAY. I ASK FOR YOUR HELP -- IN A FLASH: DANIEL is UP AND HAS GRABBED ELI AND THROWN HIM HALFWAY ACROSS THE ROOM. Eli flails about as Daniel closes in, hysterical/crazy/kicking/pushing,etc... DANIEL I TOOK WHAT I WANTED WHEN YOU WEREN'T LOOKING AND THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB IS IN MY POCKET. DO YOU THINK GOD IS GOING TO BALANCE YOUR INVESTMENTS? GOD DOESN'T SAVE IDIOTS, ELI. YOU ARE BROKE AND YOU ARE LAME AND YOU ARE DONE FOR. ELI No I'm not. DANIEL DID YOU THINK THAT YOUR SONG AND DANCE AND YOUR SUPERSTITION WOULD SAVE YOU? I AM THE THIRD REVELATION! I AM WHO THE LORD HAS CHOSEN. BECAUSE I'M SMARTER THAN YOU. I AM OLDER AND WISER AND I AM NOT A FALSE PROPHET, YOU SNIVELING BOY. YOU'RE DONE FOR. ELI Not done for, no. DANIEL Yes. ANGLE, DANIEL. along the way, he picks up a HEAVY SILVER TUMBLER... DANIEL I AM THE THIRD REVELATION! I AM THE THIRD REVELATION! I TOLD YOU I WOULD EAT YOU UP, I TOLD YOU I WOULD EAT YOU. HOW DARE YOU COME TO ME? HOW DARE YOU? WHAT DID I TELL YOU? ANGLE, ELI. inching back on the bowling alley floor...back from Daniel... DANIEL WHAT DID I TELL YOU? ANGLE, DANIEL. advancing on Eli... DANIEL I TOLD YOU I'D EAT YOU UP. ANGLE, ELI crawling and looking for somewhere to go... DANIEL How dare you come to my home? DANIEL is over HIM, AND SITS DOWN ON HIS CHEST, PINNING DOWN HIS ARMS... AND DRIVES THE TUMBLER STRAIGHT DOWN INTO ELI'S FACE. CAMERA looks STRAIGHT DOWN on the GORGEOUS WOOD FLOOR... ...very slowly, BLOOD COMES OOZING INTO FRAME. It spreads and moves like a slow land slide...covering the floor...CAMERA moves back a bit to reveal; ...blood pouring from Eli's skull and this head wound...he's curled in a fetal position and not moving... CU. DANIEL his eyes wet and out of breath from the struggle, looking at what he's done. HOLD. He gets up -- Daniel drags Eli's dead body down the lane of the bowling alley, leaving a streak of BLOOD... HE THROWS HIM INTO THE BOWLING PINS AND DOWN OVER THE LIP INTO A CELLAR. FROM BELOW, LOOKING UP. BOWLING PINS AND ELI'S BODY COME CRASHING THROUGH INTO THIS CELLAR. ABOVE, IN THE BOWLING LANE. Daniel slumps down onto the floor...breathing heavy and covered in blood... HOLD WITH HIM ON HIS FACE. ANGLE, AT THE STEPS LEADING TO THE BOWLING ALLEY. CAMERA pulls back with AL ROSE coming down the steps...slowly...slowly...revealing to him the horrific scene: ...and sees the BLOOD spilled across the floor...and sees Daniel... HOLD on Al's face and the reality of this mess... Daniel turns around...satisfied: DANIEL I'm finished.
The movie version is even more violent.
A bowling alley. Drainage. Milk shake. The mind boggles at how Anderson combined those disparate elements into such a powerful scene.
[Originally posted September 10, 2010]