‘The Master’ Trailer Teases Paul Thomas Anderson’s Scientology Drama

Published 3 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 10:00 pm,

The first teaser trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master hinted at the depths of depravity reached by Freddie Sutton (Joaquin Phoenix), a WW II veteran caught in a downward spiral of self-destruction. We were thereafter treated to an equally-cryptic second teaser that introduced Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a man Sutton comes to believe holds the key to his salvation – only to gradually realize that Dodd is a delusional charlatan, who disguises his own insanity with a dignified facade and eloquent manner.

Today we have a full-lenth theatrical promo for Anderson’s Master project, which illustrates how those two men form an immediate connection that, at first, seems mutually beneficial. However, as Sutton steadily awakens to Dodd’s true nature, he relapses into an inescapable nightmare state that makes him a potential obstacle to the cult that Dodd and his wife Mary Sue (Amy Adams) are working to build.

Anderson’s Master draws inspiration from the real-life rise of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard during the 1950s, but the 5-time Oscar-nominated filmmaker clearly has higher aspirations than to create a backdoor biopic about the man who founded a mysterious religious/cult organization that so many famous Hollywood players (Tom Cruise, John Travolta, etc.) subscribe to with unbridled devotion.

The project instead appears to use Hubbard’s story as a stepping stone to stage a greater allegory about how American society attempted to hide its disillusionment in the aftermath of WW II beneath a veneer of wholesome values and morality. That assessment is based on the Master trailer, where we see Sutton try (and fail at) respectable occupations, such as farm work and family photography – before he becomes the right-hand man to Dodd, under the (misguided) belief that his newfound devotion can save him.

joaquin phoenix master trailer The Master Trailer Teases Paul Thomas Andersons Scientology Drama

Joaquin Phoenix in 'The Master'

Phoenix is poised to turn in a powerhouse performance as Sutton, capturing the essence of a lost soul who can change from a quiet presence into a violent force at the turn of a dime. The casting for Master, as a whole, seems perfect, right down to Jesse Plemmons (Battleship) and Ambyr Childers (All My Children) as the Dodd offspring. In fact, it’s almost disconcerting how convincingly the two look like they could be Hoffman and Adams’ son and daughter, respectively.

Moreover, the film appears to be beautifully-composed and structured, offering more than its fair share of pure visual poetry (see: the opening trailer shot of an unconscious Phoenix). Anderson shot the film on 65 mm, and the final result looks to be a refreshing alternative to contemporary digital photography. That Master also appears to serve as a companion piece to There Will Be Blood (thematically, visually, and in terms of Jonny Greenwood’s score) is just icing on the cake.

The Master begins a limited theatrical release on October 12th, 2012.


Source: Yahoo! Movies

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  1. 1st off I feel the need to express my opinion that I find it criminal that we’ve had to wait this long for the next PTA film. I understand that he doesn’t make the types of films that make tons of money so funding is always an issue but IMO in a perfect world someone should be handing him blank checks whenever he turns in a new script…
    I really think after this I should just stop commenting on this film and my expectations because with every trailer and piece of news I just gush all about it with really nothing new to say…

    • Agreed about P.T.A. I’m really looking forward to this. Hopefully, as his films earn more Oscar noms and wins, he’ll get the kind of funding he deserves.

  2. Looks dumb and boring, wannabe artistic. Fail.

    • Kind of agree but i will still check it out before completely judging it!

  3. looks intresting i’ll check out

  4. I bought an old 1950′s “Astounding Science Fiction” magazine from my local flea market the other day. At the back of the magazine was an advert appealing for people to join Scientology with promises that it would explain everything.

    It kind of freaked me out!

  5. The Scientologists seem to be very good at blocking media that possibly puts their “religion” in a bad light. I’m surprised they’ve not attacked this yet.

  6. This just became my number one most anticipated movie

  7. Love PTA and all of his work, this willl no doubt be just as awesome!

  8. Oh, Jesus. I just had a dramagasm and messed my pants. Two of my favorite dramatic actors, in a hardcore drama. Thank God they still make movies like this. Yes, only ten-thousand people will watch this. I will be one of them. Keep your Harry Potter and Dragon Tattoo movies. Viva Good Drama! Unleash the Oscar!!

  9. I can’t wait to see this! Finally, a fictional story based on Scientology! I hope it gets wide release!

  10. that 65 mm looks ridiculously good. i had my doubts when i heard robert elswit wouldnt be shooting a PTA film for the first time, but dammmnnnnn

    • It’s a continuous stream of medium format film, mmmmmm!!

      Can’t wait!!

    • Surely you jest. Robert Elswit has been PTA’s DP for every film.

      • wouldNT be shooting a PTA film for the first time

      • he’s not for this one

  11. Someone, maybe PTA, should remake A Clockwork Orange. It is time.

  12. Absolutely the worst, most boring piece of trash I’ve seen in the past 10 years. I want my admission back. People in the theater actually walked out during the show.

    Awful is far too kind.