It is hard to know how to describe this film. It is more of a character study than a story. Of course there is some plot, an oilman and his desire to suceed, but the story isn’t too important. What is important is the character of Daniel Plainview, as played by Oscar winning Daniel Day-Lewis.
The opening scenes show just how driven Daniel is. We watch him, working on his own, in a mine. No dialogue at all for around 15 minutes, just this man in a hole, digging, dynamiting up the earth, falling down the hole, injured and yet still having the drive to pull himself out of that hole and struggle back into town to get his bit of dirt evaluated.
In 1984 in East Germany the secret police, or Stasi were everywhere, watching everything. This film details the activities of one officer, Wiesler, as he monitored a popular playwright. Wiesler doesn’t believe that Dreyman could possibly be as pro the party as he makes out. Too arrogant. So he suggests keeping him under surveillance, just in case. His superior officer doesn’t agree, at first, but then Minister Bruno Hempf mentions that perhaps he isn’t such a fan, and that perhaps Dreyman isn’t a favourite. It turns out that Hempf is more than interested in Dreyman’s girlfriend, the actress Christa-Maria Sieland, and so would like nothing better than to remove his rival by having him arrested and taken away.