Author Topic: The Master - SPOILERS!  (Read 69942 times)

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Jeremy Blackman

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Re: IF YOU'VE SEEN THE MASTER TALK ABOUT IT HERE - SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
« Reply #135 on: September 28, 2012, 02:31:51 PM »
+1
I wonder if this is obvious, but I'll throw it out there anyway since there have been so many questions about the motorcycle scene.

The point of the scene is that Freddie is willing to take things further than the Master. The point he picks is at first a mountain (if I remember correctly), but then Master sort of recalibrates him toward a closer landmark, which was a bush or something.

Freddie also drives the motorcycle faster, which Master admires. Faster and farther.

Correct my details if possible... I'd like to have a more precise account of this.
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socketlevel

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Re: IF YOU'VE SEEN THE MASTER TALK ABOUT IT HERE - SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
« Reply #136 on: September 28, 2012, 04:16:48 PM »
0
Listened to the Filmspotting podcast on my way to work this morning. One thing that was mentioned that I didn't catch on to or haven't seen mentioned as I casually scroll through Master summaries while at work, was that Freddie may have been impotent. He is  completely obsessed with sex but never actually has any. As mentioned in the podcast he falls asleep at the dinner, He has an innocent relationship with a young girl and turns away the advances of Dodd's daughter. It's not until the end of the film he actually has sex. So maybe the Cause helped Freddie or as much as Freddie wanted to be helped.

ya i was actually thinking about that a lot and had a conversation with a friend last night about this very issue. in the script he doesn't turn away her advances, they have sex behind all of their backs. I bet it was probably even filmed. It's much better this way for all the reasons you just said.
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Cloudy

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Re: IF YOU'VE SEEN THE MASTER TALK ABOUT IT HERE - SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
« Reply #137 on: September 28, 2012, 05:01:12 PM »
+3
Every interview with PTA gives me less of a reason to dissect this thing. He seems as confused as the rest of us. Which is kind of interesting in a way, because it's almost as if he edited the film from Freddie's point of view completely. When he was in the editing phase of TWBB he and Dylan Tichenor would drink vodka and eat steak just to edit in Plainview's state of mind.

“You know, I got into Raoul Walsh a lot. His style, which is a very straight forward nuts-and-bolts director. I mean that as a high compliment, just the directness of his stories. I read his biography and his biography is just as nuts and bolts as his directing. It’s pretty great.”

Funny that he says that, because he literally just made one of the most ambiguously elliptical films of all time. Weird.

About his confusion:
“I’m not trying to be arty or elusive or anything. Where we come from in the editing room can sometimes be intellectual, but more often it’s pretty instinctual. More often, if you looked under the hood, you’d see how amazingly disorganized and confused we all were."

About the three shots of the water:
“Ha, ha! Those water shots are just nice. Sometimes you do things that you think are a good idea. Other times, you just hope that some feeling hits you when you’re putting the film together. You have to follow that."

polkablues

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Re: IF YOU'VE SEEN THE MASTER TALK ABOUT IT HERE - SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
« Reply #138 on: September 28, 2012, 05:48:47 PM »
+7
I saw the movie for the second time yesterday (4k digital projection, which was a little digitally, but still amazing, and less shaky than the poorly-calibrated 70mm projector where I first saw it), and I have thoughts!

I feel like not enough has been made of Freddie's longing for Doris.  The second time around, it became clear to me that this is the through-line that all of Freddie's actions revolve around.  He doesn't go back for her because he's too fucked up from the war, and when he meets the Master and starts learning about The Cause, he believes it to be what will put him on the path to straightening himself out enough to finally go to her.  He responds well to the initial round of processing, and obviously feels enough of a connection to Dodd (though, it should be pointed out, not nearly to the extent that Dodd feels a connection to him) that he commits himself to the process as much as his addict brain will allow him.  But he's not in it "for a billion years"; he's in it to get right, to cure himself to the point that he's worthy of his true love.

When Peggie wakes him up in Philadelphia and tells him to stop drinking, she tells him to "put something in the future for yourself.  It's yours, when you're ready to go get it."  That something is Doris.  But he's not ready yet, as evidenced by the fact that he's still drinking in the next scene after telling Peggie he would stop.  In fact, he's growing uncertain that The Cause will ever get him to that point, with Val's "He's making all this up as he goes along" the fuel on a fire that's already smoldering inside him.  But the Master says the right things to him in jail, enough to convince him to recommit himself to his improvement, and amazingly, it seems to work.  The "to the window, to the wall" (aw, skeet skeet) sequence essentially tears him down enough to rebuild, and by the time they go to Phoenix, he seems much more centered, more content.  His faith has been restored.

But then a catalyst.  When Kevin J. O'Connor, a fellow acolyte in good standing, trashes the Master's work, Freddie lashes out, this time not out of a sense of loyalty, like when he beat up John Moore, but because O'Connor affirmed something Freddie didn't want to admit to himself that he knew was true.  There was nothing more The Cause could do for him.  If he stayed, he would be stuck in the same cycle of progression and regression in perpetuity.  He would never truly be ready to go get what he's put in the future for himself, but it's that realization, that he will never bring himself to his 'initial state of perfect," that frees him.  So when he straddles the motorcycle and the Master tells him to pick a point, he picks one.  Doris.  He's as ready as he's ever going to get, and it doesn't even occur to him to look back.

But, of course, he's too late.  His reaction, though, his calm acceptance and seemingly genuine concern for her happiness, would have been unimaginable from the character we met at the beginning of the film.  Whether it can be linked to The Cause's methods or merely to his own will to change, he became the person he was hoping to become.  When he goes to England to see the Master again, it's out of affection, out of "what people in your profession call nostalgia," not out of a desire to rejoin them.  What utility the Cause held for Freddie had already been exhausted, and his specific goal turned out to be an unattainable one, but the final scene shows us that he got the next best thing out of it, not the ability to be with Doris, but the ability to be with someone, which is what he really wanted all along, as the final shot, the beautiful ellipsis with which the film trails off, reminds us.
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Re: IF YOU'VE SEEN THE MASTER TALK ABOUT IT HERE - SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
« Reply #139 on: September 29, 2012, 03:55:26 AM »
+4
I'm still mulling this one over, so I'm waiting until I arrive at a conclusion to post my full thoughts on the film. This will likely require another viewing, but I'd like to address some of polkablues points.

I think your analysis is pretty good, polka. I agree that Doris is really the key to understanding Freddy. However, I don't think he chooses not to return to her after the war because "he's too fucked up from the war". She writes him during the war, stating that she is moving on. This is what fucks him up. This is the initial trauma, and it's so strong that it renders him incapable of coping with both subsequent traumas as well as the previous ones, namely the war and his family.

I also think you're on to something when you write about the reaction of Freddy to Kevin J. O'Connors criticism of the Master's work. But I think this scene is part of a bigger underlying pattern in the movie. Whenever the Cause is questioned in the movie, that criticism is always ultimately met with raw, emotional rage by Freddy or, more importantly, the Master himself (I'll return to this later). This is a manifestation of cognitive dissonance. They both know the criticism is true and that it cannot be countered with reason. The only defense left is dumb, animal rage.

I think you're totally right about the motorcycle scene. But, again, I disagree with your analysis about Freddy's return to the Master in England. I don't think it's out of affection or "nostalgia", but a genuine last ditch hope that the Cause offers some cure for his deep emotional and psychological wounds, and primarily, something that will truly fill the void left by Doris. He's begun to face it, but he's still looking for an easy way out.

In England,  Freddy is initially receptive to the Master, even after being berated by his wife (it is here he finally glimpses the true nature of the Cause). When he and the Master are finally alone, Freddy asks him if he can really cure mental illness and where they first met. When the Master starts going on about meeting in former lives as Prussians during some old European war, Freddy detects the falsehood and  it is AT THIS POINT that Freddy's faith in the Master is completely snuffed out and he sees him now as a man -- a man as lost as he was. As the Master goes on and on, and his bullshit turns to desperate yearning you can see that Freddy's idolization turn to pity.

But the film is called The Master, not The Freddy, and I think the movie is really about the Master himself. He is not, as many have put forth, a charismatic master manipulator. He's a self-conscious fraud. Even his children ultimately desert him. He's a man as tortured as Freddy, but he's been anesthetized by the Cause. He's infatuated by Freddy because Freddy is pained with real pain and the Master yearns to feel something real. He is drowning is self-delusion, guided by others, just as much a cog in the machine of the Cause as any new member. The jerk-off  intervention scene with his wife isn't about Freddy at all, but about the Master. He's drinking Freddy's hooch, drifting away into Freddy's pain, touching his own dormant pain, and relapsing into his true self. He's trying to find an escape through Freddy, but the Cause (his wife) yanks him back, literally.

Those great processing scenes between Freddy and the Master are not about curing Freddy at all, but about the Master curing himself. In his reaching into into Freddy, he's really reaching for something real and raw, something he hasn't been able to feel in a long time.

During the speech at his daughter's wedding he talks about marriage being unbearable before the Cause. He then talks about lassoing the dragon and putting him on a leash. His next step is teaching the dragon to play tricks. Well, the dragon is reality. And I think if this movie is a criticism of Scientology, this is it. Scientology is heavily critical of the field of psychiatry and their, what Scientologists see as, predilection toward medicating. Instead, Scientologists seek to cure people's psychological afflictions with their own mumbo jumbo, something very similar to the Cause's. At it's essence, this mumbo jumbo is self delusion. Their lassoing of the dragon is an attempt at deluding one's self into believing unpleasant realities aren't real, but mere reflections of past lives, etc. The Master says that before the Cause, marriage was unbearable, but now the things that made it unbearable are suppressed, ignored, imagined away. But at the end, they're still there. And they're on a leash. A leash is a connection to you, not a barrier. What happens when you put an animal that wants to devour you on a leash? A lot of running?


Jeremy Blackman

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Re: IF YOU'VE SEEN THE MASTER TALK ABOUT IT HERE - SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
« Reply #140 on: September 29, 2012, 02:43:07 PM »
0
Polka, I think you're absolutely correct. I think I (and perhaps others) resisted honing in on that because it's the most conventional part of the movie, thus potentially disappointing. We don't really want it to be about a childhood sweetheart. We would rather focus on the weirdness. Dana Stevens said the Doris scenes "seemed more conventional and less illuminating with each viewing," and I wonder if that's true.
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samsong

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Re: IF YOU'VE SEEN THE MASTER TALK ABOUT IT HERE - SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
« Reply #141 on: September 29, 2012, 03:20:06 PM »
+1
i found the stuff with doris (which would include the scene where she's so devastatingly absent) to be all the more poignant on the second viewing precisely because it became more of a focus than the first time around.  one of my favorite bits is when they talk through the screen.  pickpocket is a movie i thought about a lot during both viewings and while not necessarily the key to understanding the film, i found it to be a resonant reference that facilitated connecting with the movie. 

Cloudy

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Re: IF YOU'VE SEEN THE MASTER TALK ABOUT IT HERE - SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
« Reply #142 on: September 29, 2012, 03:52:39 PM »
0
To Polka and Badass,

I really enjoyed/agree with many of your perceptions of the film. I have to ask though: Do you really think Freddie has the perception and hindsight to see through The Master/The Cause like that? I ask because there is this boyish/animalistic aura around Freddie that almost makes it seem impossible for him to really read that far into things. His character is so confused and lost that I can barely believe for him to be thinking this far into it.

polkablues

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Re: IF YOU'VE SEEN THE MASTER TALK ABOUT IT HERE - SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
« Reply #143 on: September 29, 2012, 04:26:28 PM »
+1
To Polka and Badass,

I really enjoyed/agree with many of your perceptions of the film. I have to ask though: Do you really think Freddie has the perception and hindsight to see through The Master/The Cause like that? I ask because there is this boyish/animalistic aura around Freddie that almost makes it seem impossible for him to really read that far into things. His character is so confused and lost that I can barely believe for him to be thinking this far into it.

I don't see it as a matter of Freddie intellectualizing any of it; he's all id, he acts on an instinctual level all throughout the movie.  But being that primal, that impulsive, he's strongly influenced by whatever new stimulus comes his way.  He first learns about The Cause, he's intrigued.  He does processing with Dodd, he's sold.  Val raises doubts in his mind, he does a complete 180, then Dodd calms him down in jail, and he spins right back around.  He's not a Master of his own destiny, he's a sailboat without a rudder, at the mercy of whatever wind blows the hardest.

But underneath all that, there's an engine waiting to be kickstarted, which is his regret over not going back to Doris.  Though he doesn't realize it on an intellectual level, from the moment he starts learning about The Cause, he's using it as the method of getting himself to the point where that's possible, and he has a moment of realization in Phoenix (though still not fully consciously; taking off on the motorcycle was a purely instinctive move) that he's at that point, and there's nothing more The Cause can do for him.  Yes, he began the story confused and lost, and while it's not PTA's style to write a character arc in which he has a complete turnaround, he's at least less confused and lost by this point.  Again, I'll point to the scene with Doris' mother.  The way he processes the situation and accepts it, he has changed tremendously to get to that point.  He's an animal who found his humanity, or a boy who finally grew up.
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Jeremy Blackman

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Re: IF YOU'VE SEEN THE MASTER TALK ABOUT IT HERE - SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
« Reply #144 on: September 29, 2012, 04:33:30 PM »
+1
E: Ugh. Awkward page bump. Just go to the next page.
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Jeremy Blackman

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Re: IF YOU'VE SEEN THE MASTER TALK ABOUT IT HERE - SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
« Reply #145 on: September 29, 2012, 04:42:17 PM »
+1
I think Freddie's goal, even if it's not a fully conscious goal, is to get to that Doris-ready state. Doris herself is not necessarily the goal. Right?

Would it be too bold to say Freddie is more interested in self-improvement than any other character?

What say you, polka?

Also, I'm really liking this line of interpretation. The movie being about self-improvement at its core would bring it nicely back to Scientology (surprisingly?), with an original twist.
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polkablues

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Re: IF YOU'VE SEEN THE MASTER TALK ABOUT IT HERE - SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
« Reply #146 on: September 29, 2012, 04:43:20 PM »
+2
I think Freddie's goal, even if it's not a fully conscious goal, is to get to that Doris-ready state. Doris herself is not necessarily the goal. Right?

I'm not sure there's a fundamental difference there.  The self-improvement is initially the means to an end.  It's not until after he discovers that he missed the boat with Doris that it becomes clear his self-improvement was the end itself.

Would it be too bold to say Freddie is more interested in self-improvement than any other character?

I think this is entirely the case.  Like he says during the window/wall sequence, "I could leave any time I wanted.  But I choose to stay."  Everybody else involved in The Cause seems more into being part of the cool new club, but Freddie actually wants the results.


Also, I'm really liking this line of interpretation. The movie being about self-improvement at its core would bring it nicely back to Scientology (surprisingly?), with an original twist.

I agree, but we should also keep in mind that we're essentially dissecting one hemisphere of the movie right now.  What the movie is saying about this sort of guided self-improvement, and by association Scientology, is very different depending on whether you're looking at it from Freddie's angle or from Lancaster Dodd's.  I think Freddie's story is a very hopeful one, and Dodd's is quite the opposite.  Bleak, even.
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Jeremy Blackman

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Re: IF YOU'VE SEEN THE MASTER TALK ABOUT IT HERE - SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
« Reply #147 on: September 29, 2012, 04:58:29 PM »
0
I'm not sure there's a fundamental difference there.  The self-improvement is initially the means to an end.  It's not until after he discovers that he missed the boat with Doris that it becomes clear his self-improvement was the end itself.

Right, but Freddie not realizing that at first doesn't make it less true. It's always been about using Doris as the excuse/stand-in.

I think this does bring us closer to Scientology, the self-improvement religion, but in a somewhat cutting way — no one within the Cause was as passionate about authentic self-improvement and self-actualization. You could even say that Freddie was more successful. Yes he's still drinking at the end, but his starting point was so low that the degree of change must have been larger than any of the subtle shades of phoney enlightenment happening with the rest of the crew. Freddie made an apparently sober decision to board that boat — he had the determination... it's like all he needed was a little structure.
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Jeremy Blackman

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Re: IF YOU'VE SEEN THE MASTER TALK ABOUT IT HERE - SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
« Reply #148 on: September 29, 2012, 05:01:01 PM »
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Actually, "structure" is too simplistic. This is where the Master/Freddie love story comes in.
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squints

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Re: IF YOU'VE SEEN THE MASTER TALK ABOUT IT HERE - SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
« Reply #149 on: September 29, 2012, 07:27:36 PM »
0
COITUS / DOUCHE
“The myth by no means finds its adequate objectification in the spoken word. The structure of the scenes and the visible imagery reveal a deeper wisdom than the poet himself is able to put into words and concepts” – Friedrich Nietzsche

 

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