How a Character’s Use of Vocal Control Directs the Narrative of the Film

In another of his truly insightful video essays, host Jack Nugent of the series Now You See It speaks to the immersive technique of vocal control as was regularly utilized by actor John Wayne in most of his roles and particularly with Daniel Day-Lewis‘ sublime performance as Daniel Fairview in the 2007 film There Will Be Blood. Both men in their respective roles, use their voice or its withdrawal to control the narrative, the scene and those around them; diminishing those who seek approval as well as those who rebel against the character’s authoritative nature. Questions are ignored, speech is interrupted, promises are made and then broken. How the characters exert their vocal control most profoundly, however, is in the need to be recognized as the most important voice at all times, the proverbial the voice of God.

Daniel Plainview may have the vocal influence but he’s a conman. In one of his monologues he elegantly talks about the schools he’ll build, the wheat he’ll grow, the importance of family values but the visual shows only men and no schools, irrigation or farmland just people preparing the drilling. His voice of God Authority tricks us even though Plainview constantly talks about bringing wealth to the town there are actually very few signs of him improving the town.