I just saw the movie There Will Be Blood (2007). When I had first seen the title of the movie I had assumed the movie to be a violent one with a lot of killing and hatred. But the story is completely different! Based loosely on the novel Oil! it's rather about the story of an 'oilman'.

So my doubt is; how is the title of the movie justified? Why didn't the makers name the movie The Oilman (I have read they didn't name it Oil! because it isn't directly based on the book) or Daniel Plainview or something like that? What is the significance of the title in relation to its story?

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    "Ach! There was hardly any f'ing blood!" youtube.com/watch?v=4CF2PbJsaW8
    – StuperUser
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 9:05
  • lol @StuperUser Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 5:54
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    Jack Burton: "What is that stuff?" Egg Shen: "Black Blood of the Earth." Jack Burton: "You mean oil?" Egg: "I mean Black Blood of the Earth!" - this question made me think of Big Trouble in Little China. There are also a lot of references, via Google, to oil being called the Earth's blood. Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 16:13

4 Answers 4


Along with the posted answer, I would point people towards the Book of Exodus 7:19 from the Bible:

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their reservoirs of water, that they may become blood; and there will be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.'

For anyone who remembers their Moses, this refers to one of the ten deadly plagues unleashed upon the Egyptians due to the Pharaoh not releasing the Israelites.

In the context of the film, it works quite well as the symbolism of brutal revenge for a wrongdoing.

So much of the film involves betrayal and brutal back-stabbing, coupled with furious anger, on the part of so many different characters. Given this, the title, and its relation to the Biblical verse, seems quite apt.

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    I think this is a good direction, but I feel it's possible to dig even deeper. For one thing, William and Daniel's interactions are rife with biblical blood analogies, something that oddly didn't come up yet in this thread. And for another, there's the fact that the passage you just quoted could be an accurate analogy for certain aspects of the oil industry, namely oil spills.
    – Walt
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 16:21
  • Bible yes. How about also a line from Berg's Wozzeck Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 14:45

I don't know that the director has ever spoken out directly about why he chose that specific title, other than what you pointed out: they didn't call it Oil! because it wasn't a close-enough adaptation.

However, I think the title is not referencing anything you see in the movie itself (at least not much). Rather, it's warning about what's going to happen as a result of the events of the movie. The discovery of oil, the rise of oil as big business, the big companies moving in and taking over, etc. will all lead to a lot of violence. We only see a tiny bit of that in the movie, the several people do die as a result of the oil beneath the farm.

The title of the movie movie reminding us of the fact that a lot of blood will eventually be spilled over this oil, and what we're seeing with Daniel is just the tip of the iceberg.

  • But if that was the case then the director would have included a lot of murders & killings. But he didn't except one or two Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 17:11
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    why? the murders and killings are still to come. That's why the title is in the future tense. There will be blood, it's just getting started.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 17:17
  • does the killing if eli signify the same what u r saying ? Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 17:50
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    I agree with Mike. The movie Jaws really only shows the full shark towards the end of the movie and yet that title is justified. Sometimes the most powerful thing a director can do is NOT show something and only anticipate it. That's why Jaws is so good and so many other shark movies are so bad: they show too much too soon.
    – Rozgonyi
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 3:27
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    Very good explanation, given this information I think it's a quite good title.
    – Mast
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 9:19

The best analysis I have seen regarding There Will Be Blood can be found in Terri Murray's analysis in 2007.

The "Blood" is the salt of Plainview's struggle to perceived success, the toil he survived, the men he lost, his adopted son's hearing loss, all the challenges he faced in obtaining his wealth, juxtapositioned against Eli, who did not shed blood, remained unscathed until the end, ending up broke, again seeking something for nothing, having shed no blood, except his own humiliation and ultimate demise in a brutal death. One need not look outside the film to find significant bloodshed.


Being that this turned out to be a duplicate of a question I just asked, I guess I'll pose my question as an answer:

I've got some possible references, and I'm not really sure if any of them are viable:

  1. A reference to the men who died in the various mines
  2. A reference to all the people Dan Plainview killed
  3. A reference to the "war" that he had with preacher Eli Sunday
  4. A reference to his relationship with HW (in a psychological sense)

Any and all of these could be seen as a driver of the title.

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    I like the idea of all of them being the driver, with #3 taking special emphasis. To me, the movie is about Daniel Plainview's aggressive ambition, and the various damage he causes as he pursues it. His battle with Eli Sunday is the biggest of many many battles -- and Eli does bleed at the end.
    – Shiz Z.
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 15:46

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