Movie Night at The NY Philharmonic! Art of the Score: There Will Be Blood


Under last night night’s rain at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall, I took-in a sold-out screening of Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 award-winning drama, “There Will Be Blood,” set against a live performance of Jonny Greenwood’s evocative, original score played by the NYPhil.

The film’s protagonist is the award-winning British actor, Daniel Day-Lewis, as the self-made oil baron, Daniel Plainview, based on Upton Sinclair’s 1927 book “Oil!” about the oilmen of the late-19th/early-20th century who struck liquid gold.

For all the right reasons, PTA’s award-winning iconic film routinely rounds-out cinema’s top lists, and it’s aged magnificently with its eternal themes of the early American pioneers who shaped the country’s greatest industries, as well as its greatest scandals: Sinclair’s novel loosely concerns the uber-corrupt Warren G. Harding administration and the Teapot Dome Scandal bribery between its admin and oil baron Edward L. Doheny.


Beneath a giant movie screen, a curated NYPhil played British composer/musician Jonny Greenwood’s original score. As the lead guitarist of Radiohead, Greenwood composed in his most familiar musical language — lighter strings, percussion, and a small handful of brass/woodwinds — in chilling glissandos to frame mid-film percussive menace, and a haunting fugue featuring the ondes martenot (sort of like a keyboard crossed with a Theremin).

A couple classical works were borrowed, such as the “Allegro giocoso” from Brahms’ Violin Concerto and Arvo Part’s Fratres, which the NYPhil soloists played adroitly-enough.

After Artistic Advisor Alec Baldwin made a short intro, young conductor Hugh Brunt took a bow in his NYPhil debut. The orchestra was well-served by Brunt’s cross-genre credits citing past collaborations with PTA and Greenwood/Radiohead.

The only caveat: tho the series is a great way to see a masterpiece on the big screen, the large venue strips away a sense of intimacy that you get in smaller movie theaters. But on the B-side, you really understand the nuance and skill behind score-making when matched-up to a live performance.

Even cooler, it also made me realize that no matter how masterly a film has been crafted, the medium, just like humans, ages. Music, however? Music is eternal.


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