There Will Be Blood + East of Eden

Double feature: Heavy with portent, sustained by ambition, “There Will Be Blood” and “East of Eden” both have things to say about Americans’ – and thus America’s – origins and development.

Thematically, both films touch on the kind of avariciousness that is venture-enabling but emotionally-blinding, the notes of pride and jealousy in male familial relationships, and the moral ecosystem in which hypocrisy and sin feed off of each other.

Both films are emphatic about the extent to which good and evil not only rub shoulders between people, but within them.

In both, characters troubled by their beginnings have no trouble abandoning them wholesale, in favor of more palatable descriptions of their pasts that they peddle to themselves and others with conviction.  In shielding themselves from their own history, these characters shift the burden of coming to terms with it onto their sons, who risk being shattered by the encounter.

With narratives demanding continuously strained emotions, both films are lucky to feature deeply credible lead performances.   The authenticity of these actors’ physical and verbal delivery elevates the films – laden with brittle symbolism and self-conscious nationalism – to meaningful explorations of the relationship between one’s past and one’s future.

(Creative Commons licensed original images courtesy of “windsordi” and “fdecomite” at Flickr)

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