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The Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio in ‘There Will Be Blood’ by Paul Thomas Anderson


The Golden Ratio remains present in the aesthetic expressions of our time: for example, in ‘There Will Be Blood’ by Paul Thomas Anderson.

Archetypes work as identification signs, as prints that are embedded in our cultural genetic code that centuries of civilization have made part of our nature. At times, without us realising it, there are symbols which come to us suddenly and, as some say, apparently from out of the blue: they call us, stop us, and invite us to be part of the message they transmit.

The Golden Ratio, which is not strictly considered an archetype, functions like one. Somewhere along his vast oeuvre, George Steiner asserts that the primal foundations of the Western civilization lie in Greek culture: even nowadays, so many years after the Classic era, Greek works remain relevant, influential, shaping our thoughts and our ways of being in the world. And this is the case of the Golden Ratio: even if our idea of beauty has been noticeably modified, in particular after the aesthetic vanguards of the twentieth century, when we find a work, an object or a face that fits this instinctive, sensitive mathematical rule, we inexplicably consider it beautiful.

In a surprising analytical exercise focusing on this proportion, which is attributed to Pythagoras, the artist Ali Shirazi examines the presence of the Golden Ratio in Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood (2007), a somewhat unexpected association, which makes it all the more interesting.

Paul Thomas Anderson, who has set himself apart by approaching subjects that might make most people uncomfortable, presents critical emotional ruptures with a visual treatment that seeks to translate this commotion to filmic expressions and the cinematic perspective.

Ali Shirazi’s video, in turn, shows us the extent to which this deeply engrained aesthetic-mathematic idea becomes discernable art, as if this was the password to an irrevocable initiation: film as the revelation of mystery that always lay before our eyes.

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