there will be math

So far I've seen Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood twice in theatres, and on both occasions I noticed a certain dissatisfaction in the audience. Since I enjoyed the movie so much, I'm not sure what those popcorn-chewing people had issue with. Could it be the unorthodox Jonny Greenwood score? No, that was liberating. How about Daniel Day-Lewis' outsized performance? I doubt it, because he inhabited the role so thoroughly that he gave us something entirely outside the current tradition of film acting, and our appreciation of performance has been enlarged because of it. What about those long stretches of methodical, dialogue-free action? Maybe, but those sections told us so much about a way of life that it felt like Anderson had unlocked some latent power in celluloid to convey information.

The answer lies in the title. For a movie that explicitly promises blood, there's not much of the stuff. We see blood only twice in the whole film - once in a sudden ruddy spray that may actually be crude oil, and later in a small puddle oozing across a polished wooden floor.

Nonetheless I think that viewers get more than enough blood from the film. Over the two hours and forty minutes running time, we see four adult males die. Since we witness those moments, and since the experience of watching movies is essentially voyeuristic, I think it's fair to say that we in the audience claim those deaths. The imaginary spoils of onscreen battles go to us, the victors, who have paid ten dollars to sit in the dark and watch a giant rectangle of light on a wall. The question is, exactly how much blood do we get?

The average amount of blood in an adult male body - say, weighing around 150-175 pounds - comes to roughly 5 litres, or 1.32 gallons (This is a conservative estimate; some sources claim up to 5.7 litres). Since this is imaginary blood, we don't need to divide it up between audience members. Therefore we can each claim to have paid ten dollars for twenty litres, or 5.2 gallons, of that old hemoglobin. If you go on cheap night, then you're walking away with gallons of imaginary blood for practically nothing.

If you think of it in terms of gasoline, that's probably enough to move even the most redonkulous gas-guzzling Hummer at least seventy-five miles. And if you're driving a Prius, well then, aren't you special.