OK, so I am a little late to weigh in on the old discussion, so I thought I might renew it as I have finally been able to take this great movie in. I have to admit that I enjoyed it thoroughly and that it has haunted my thoughts the last couple of days (and, perhaps most embarrassingly, my bad version of DDL’s charater’s accent has been haunting Amanda since I saw it. I think we may have to rename our dog, Ernie as “H.W.”. Anyway, some points of interest for me- Mandy pointed out that the preacher was played by the angst-ridden teen from Little Miss Sunshine. She also pointed out the quite obvious and symbolic notion that where did the minister (term used loosely) come to get big oil’s help at the end? He was in the gutter. Sure it was a more oplulant gutter, but a gutter nevertheless. Knowing what he was and whata he represented the preacher pulled Plainview from the gutter to get what he wanted. Interesting to me was the character of Daniel Plainview- almost as though he is birthed from a pit at the beginning of the movie, I think he was intriging. There are some hints in the film as to his background, but I don’t think that it is all that important. I think there are some traits of anti-social personality here as well as a complete lack of social understanding, almost to an Asperger’s degree. I think he was intentionally played with a relatively flat array of personality. He is almost more a thing, than a person. A crazy thing, made most apparant in scenes like the one where he tells the other oilman that he is going to “cut his throat”. I don’t think one must interpret this movie in the most general of ways- that all oil industry is bad or that all religion is fake or full of lies. I think this movie is about a lot of things, a social commentary and cautionary tale about the lies we tell others and ourselves to mask our greed from ourselves and others, to be wary of the actual cost of things, the way that complex issues vibrate Hud’s “Web of Life”. Sometimes the things we hold most near and dear to us are the things that blind us the most to their effect on the systems they are connected to. I feel as though the metamessage is more about taking a critical perspective about our involvement in things, whether that be our church’s politics, our government’s foriegn policies, our own interactions with others, etc. Mandy watched it the day after I saw it and I joined her about halfway through. I have to admit the music, the mood, etc – Brilliant; I couldn’t take my eyes off of the film.