Underlying the physical and ideological lives of Americans is the pulsating force of oil, a power dictating not only modes of transportation and energy, but the emotions and ideas of societies dependent on the exploitation of this natural resource. Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood displays the evolution of the Californian landscape under the pressure of the oil industry, demonstrating to the audience the emotionalism imbued within oil, separating it from pure physicality and introducing it as the ideological pulse underlying California. Drawing on the vernacular of Maria Löschnigg’s work, “Sublime Oilscapes,” I posit that the closeness of oil and emotion is eminent within the Californian oilscape, and as revealed in There Will Be Blood, is a landscape formed and perceived through oil. I argue that oil is the primary affective natural resource, dictating not only the motion of humanity, but its emotions as well. In exploring the emotive nature of oil’s image and emotion within petroculture and petrofiction, California’s oilscape, and the influence of oil upon religious and familial institutions, There Will Be Blood can be identified as an amalgamation of America’s relationship with oil and a perpetuation of oil’s role as a driving source of emotional energy.



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