Question about "There Will Be Blood"
December 30, 2007 1:45 PM   Subscribe

[Spoiler Alert] Question about "There Will Be Blood"

Were Paul (sold info to Daniel Plainview about the ranch with oil) and Eli Sunday (the preacher) twins in the film, or was it one schizophrenic person? At first I thought they were twins, but further contemplation has led me to believe "they" were the same person.
posted by oldlies to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I was confused about this too. My assumption was it was one schizophrenic person because in the last scene (when Eli tries to get money from Daniel) Eli was talking about how he's "done bad things and he can't stop himself", which I took to mean the personalities were competing.
posted by sharkfu at 2:11 PM on December 30, 2007

I just checked the script (pdf link).

It appears Paul is introduced as "A YOUNG KID (Paul Sunday aged 16)" and Eli is introduced as "...a very skinny man/boy, the son: ELI SUNDAY (aged 18)". I guess it was two-- unless he changed his mind during editing?
posted by sharkfu at 2:26 PM on December 30, 2007

I think it's impossible to answer. They are played by the same actor, and I kind of prefer to think of them as the same schizophrenic person though there's nothing concrete enough to prove it. I think there are certainly moments when Eli comes off as genuinely insane enough (when he's preaching, yelling at his father, generally acting creepy, or the finale) to suggest it. Though again, ostensibly they are referred to as brothers and you'd think that Plainview would have made it his business to know if the guy was crazy and the audience would surely be let on to more.
posted by drpynchon at 2:37 PM on December 30, 2007

I saw the film a few weeks ago, so my memory of the exact dialog is slightly fuzzy. Didn't Plainview tell Sunday in the final scene that Paul was now an oilman himself, working with his own crew somewhere?
I would think it's left slightly ambiguous, though, to highlight the thematic issue of capitalism vs. religion, no?
posted by Bromius at 3:20 PM on December 30, 2007

It's hard to make an interpretation of the film where Eli and Paul are the same person when you have Daniel's comments in the last scene about Paul having three discovery wells and how he's doing well financially, or something like that. The fact that Eli does act borderline insane isn't really acknowledged by any of the characters either. If that were a salient point, I imagine that at least Daniel would have acknowledged that.
posted by Weebot at 5:06 PM on December 30, 2007

Fair points guys.. Forgot about the bit on Paul's wells. I sway now with the two different brothers contingent.
posted by drpynchon at 5:09 PM on December 30, 2007

I was confused about this as well, and wasn't really sure until the last scene where Daniel says that Paul was the chosen son, not Eli. My movie buff friend told me that he was not confused, but he had also read that Paul and Eli Sunday were cast as two different people, with Paul Dano playing only Paul Sunday, but apparently P.T. Anderson recast Dano as Eli as well. The Wikipedia article on the movie backs up this claim.
posted by stresstwig at 7:15 PM on December 30, 2007

When I say cast as two different people, I mean two different actors.
posted by stresstwig at 7:22 PM on December 30, 2007

At this point I think PTA purposely made this confusing in order to give people something to argue about.

That "final script" you linked to seems sloppy. It has Fletcher saying "My name is Fletcher Hamilton. nice to meet you, Paul" before Paul announces his name. A little later in that scene Daniel asks "What's your [first] name?"

- Paul asked "What church do you belong to?" almost right away. Perhaps because he was ready to tie the selling of the info with religion (if Daniel did enjoy one specific faith)? Some might claim Eli would have "appeared" if faith was brought into the deal.
- Paul does mention his "younger brother, Eli" in the scene in that script. If he was his younger twin, it meshes with what Daniel says in the last scene. The script though claims Paul is 16 and Eli is 18. Huh?
- Paul answers "I don't know... I don't know what they heard or what they think" when asked if his family knows about the oil. Either is really is clueless or he's being dishonest, since Eli knows about the oil, as it later is shown.
- Eli mentions "your stupid son" instead of "my stupid brother" when flipping out on his dad - this is something that confuses some viewers.
- There's no later mention of Paul until the last scene. No dad saying to Daniel "Gee, one of our sons left us!"
- and on and on with many other examples of possible intended obfuscation.
posted by gluechunk at 10:23 AM on December 31, 2007

I thought Plainview made up the "your brother has 3 oil wells" comment just to antagonize Eli.
posted by HotPatatta at 1:50 PM on January 2, 2008

If the script describes them as different ages, why introduce so much ambiguity by using the same actor to play both roles?
posted by HotPatatta at 1:51 PM on January 2, 2008

I thought Plainview made up the "your brother has 3 oil wells" comment just to antagonize Eli.

Further on this point, I thought Daniel was saying this in order to show Eli what he could have been if he had chosen to pursue oil rather than religion. I too thought they were the same person upon exiting the theatre, but the person I saw it with thought they were definitely twins. I don't know.
posted by rooftop secrets at 10:02 AM on January 7, 2008

Paul Dano talked about this in an interview.
posted by sharkfu at 10:32 AM on January 10, 2008

I agree that they were brothers (especially now after reading about that interview), but even if they weren't brothers, that wouldn't imply Eli was schizophrenic. It sounds like everyone is referring to dissociative identity disorder instead, which is associated with having multiple personalities. Schizophrenia is NOT associated with multiple personalities but is associated with hallucinations & delusions and other disturbances in thought & attention.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 1:30 PM on January 19, 2008

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