There Will Be Blood

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
There Will Be Blood Movie Poster Image
Slow-moving, somber drama is too mature for kids.
  • R
  • 2008
  • 158 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 19 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 32 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

Daniel, the designated "capitalist," is a greedy, calculating man whose disdain for others only grows more pronounced as the film proceeds; the "man of god" is also conniving and power-mad; at last, Daniel's son breaks away, though he does so by competing with his father in business, exactly what his father hates most.


Early on, Daniel is injured in a mining accident (his leg is pierced by a tool, and there's some blood). Several oil drilling accidents, a couple with explosions and flames; two accidents kill workers (brief explosions, bodies shown) and one injures a young boy (his body is slammed and unconscious, and he's left deaf). An angry Daniel slaps and hits H.W. Eli attacks his father, trying to strangle him. Daniel attacks Eli, kicking and hitting him, dragging him into an oil pool. Murder committed by gunfire (no blood visible). Eli slaps Daniel hard and repeatedly during a baptism. A brutal, bloody murder is committed at the film's end.


Daniel and Henry visit a brothel -- kissing couples appear in the background.


Language includes "hell," "damn," and "ass."


Some thematic commercialism -- the film follows the building of an oil empire.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Daniel quiets infant H.W. by pouring whiskey into his bottle and, years later, gives him whiskey to make him sleep. Daniel drinks repeatedly, several times to the point of passing out; Henry drinks a few times as well. Daniel smokes cigarettes and a pipe, as do his right-hand man and several background characters.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that most teens probably won't be clamoring to see this slow-moving, somber drama about mature, sometimes abstract themes like capitalism and religion as driving forces in 19th- and early 20th-century America. Violence includes mining and oil well accidents (explosions, flames, a couple of deaths), several fights (hitting and kicking), and a shooting (abrupt and disturbing). The blood referenced in the title comes at the end of the movie, during a protracted, brutal struggle. Some drinking and smoking; language includes "hell" and damn."

User Reviews

Adult Written byAdam Razak November 7, 2008

Doesn't Really Deserve the R-Rating, But It's Still A Brilliant Film

I honestly think There Will Be Blood should've been rated PG-13. There isn't really that much graphic violence in it, due to some swift editing. The... Continue reading
Adult Written bymartin.myles April 9, 2008

An American classic

This story ranks alongside the work of Steinbeck, Melville and Hawthorne: strong, blatant symbolism, basic moral concepts vividly brought to life, against a bac... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byYoungfilmbuff August 20, 2009

Fantastic for mature tweens^

A great movie about the life of a horrible man. If you are mature enough to be engaged by the film, you can see it.
Teen, 13 years old Written bygodawgs56 August 21, 2009
Lon complecated story for older teens to understand but it should easily be rated pg-13 maybe even pg without a person dieing into the hole of oil

What's the story?

Based on Upton Sinclair's 1927 novel, Oil!, THERE WILL BE BLOOD follows the life of self-described oilman Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) from his earliest days as a miner to his later years as a wealthy, lonely misanthrope. Along the way, he informally adopts H.W. (Dillon Freasier), whom he loves in a strange, desperate way that leads to distress when H.W. eventually grows away from him. Daniel's other primary interaction is with Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), a self-styled preacher who resents Daniel's governance of the land he's bought from Eli's California neighbors. Their conflict increases as each believes himself best suited to organize the community.

Is it any good?

Set against the movie's stark landscape and brilliant orchestration by Jonny Greenwood, the conflict between Daniel and Eli turns simultaneously explosive and subterranean. They embody the forces that shape American culture -- specifically, capitalism and religion. Neither man is "complete," and each feels betrayed by someone introduced as his brother -- in Eli's case, his missing twin, and in Daniel's, the sudden appearance of Henry Brands (Kevin J. O'Connor), who shows up late in the film claiming to be Daniel's half-brother. Even as Daniel and Eli's plots go in different directions, both underline loss and pain that lead to bad decisions and violence.

Beyond the emotional sparks between Eli and Daniel, the film offers stunning visual compositions set against gorgeous desert and wide skies. Following an early oil rig accident, flames appear to leap behind a stoic Daniel as he gazes on his fortune -- one that will both make and ruin him. Subtle exchanges between father and son are built on shared glances that are at once knowing, intimate, and skeptical. This relationship is increasingly complicated, partly by H.W.'s friendship with Eli's sister, and partly by Daniel's increasing rage at the world. At the film's end, there is blood, sticky and odious -- but most effectively, there is also H.W., terrified, trusting, and enduring.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages. Is there a clearly defined "good guy" or "bad guy"? Do characters that offer a mix of both qualities more accurately reflect real life? If so, why do you think TV shows and movies don't feature characters like that more often? How are Daniel and Eli both alike and at odds?

Movie details

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