Wednesday, May 28, 2008

There Will Be Blood

A fascinating film about a fascinating
character. The movie follows a California oilman from 1898 to 1927 as
he builds his petroleum empire. The protagonist is intense,
passionate, exceedingly misanthropic, vengeful, and full of hate. It
is an amazing character study and a brilliant performance by Daniel
Day Lewis.
What really got me to thinking, however, is that the
movie didn't really have or need an antagonist. There is the ongoing
conflict with the local preacher (another thoroughly dislikeable
character that is also brilliantly written and portrayed).
preacher is not really an antagonist, however, as he never has the
ability to block the protagonist from achieving his objectives. In
classical dramatic theory, that is pretty much the antagonist's role.
Here the preacher is a foil, and a source of conflict, but hardly
something insurmountable.
What it makes me wonder is if the
protagonist and the antagonist are not rolled up into one character.
With so many of his own demons and obsessions, the protagonist
doesn't really need anyone else causing problems or inhibiting his
progress. The protagonist, simply because of who he is, fulfils this
role quite well himself.
Numerous other characters arrive and are
treated the same way -- they are foils for the protagonist's actions
and character development. The brother, the son, the rancher and his
daughter are all minor puppets on the stage.
It is almost a
fictional biopic rather than a classical drama, with a central figure
so compelling and intense that the drama and the interest are
maintained throughout the film.


Like, I think, 90% of the inhabitants of first world countries, Lidia and I were plagued by a room full of books hosted on cheap IKEA shelves. The shelves accreted over the years; somehow I had the feeling that each time we took them down to move they reproduced in the trucks so that we had more when we unpacked.
We're both book lovers, but we were stuck in a home office with these walls of ugly brown fake wood shelves with the structural integrity of a famous Pisan landmark. They were old, unattractive, flimsy, and generally unloved. So... what to do?
Solution 1: Sliding shelves.! Space efficient, cool, elegant... Estimate: $15,000. Oh.
Solution 2: Extend the office space. Estimate: Legally impossible. Ooops.
Solution 3: One day, after a bit of brainstorming, we came up with the idea of ... hiding them. Seriously. A brilliant idea.
We contracted our friend Krzys (one of the apocryphal Polish handymen that the French seem to fear will undermine their way of life) to take care of it.
He set the IKEA shelves plumb, attached them to each other and the wall so that they were nice and sturdy, and hung simple white sliding panels in front. Ta daaaa! Things of beauty. One day we will take over-sized photos and decorate the panels with them; for the moment they're fine like this.