Author Topic: serious fanalysis of The Master so far (CANON ONLY.. no script/spoiler talk)  (Read 18550 times)

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Pubrick

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explanatory edit:
I butchered some of the most revelatory posts out of the main master thread and made a new place where we can seriously discuss some themes and references ..

The reasoning behind this stems from excitement about the meaning of all these things. the marketing material is already OVERFLOWING with fodder for analysis.. are we just fanboys or are there only a few of us who are feeling PTA's wavelength a bit stronger than others?

I believe PTA has total control over the material released so far and so it is fair game to talk about the ideas he wants to get across before the movie comes out. For this reason discussion about the script is not allowed, that is not canon.

My other hope for this place is a bit more ambitious.. So bear with me as i rant a little.. As much as i hate name dropping this dude it's the only name anyone here seems to recognise in terms of serious discussion: basically, we should be the Rob Agers of PTA.

Who else is better suited? Right now we're at risk of becoming more like the Harry Knowles. If we can birth one filmmaker who's doing it big (Ghostboy) why can't we at least use our knowledge of PTA to enlighten the webs on our favourite subject now that we'll be getting more traffic? And why wait until PTA is a rotting corpse to start seriously analysing his work? it doesn't have to be boring like a pretentious film study essay, it can be fun too.

and it only enhances everyone's appreciation for the films.

And now my previously posted thoughts on the teasers:



There are parallels within the two teasers (will be referring to the first as T1 and second as T2). Not only the music, but the tone of voice of the person addressing JP. At first i thought that had to be  the master who was talking to him in T1, it sounded exactly like PSH. That must have been intentional. We must think of the voice once again as it played a role in CMBB where it formed Plainview's character as if it was gospel, the word of God being pitted against the word of man quite literally in that film. If he says he's an oilman you will agree, and here the master tells us he's a writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist, a theoretical philosopher.. that just tells us he is slick.

let's focus on T1, why is the master not in it. All along we are shown almost direct parallels between the questions and the visuals. Are you mixed up, we see waves crashing, how's your sleeping, we see him drop, do you have nightmares and we see him forming the nipples of his sand statue (sex dream), knife to the throat and boxing it out are done very truthfully with the beach wrestle and sharpening his blade, but my favourite line is how he says "strooong", we see a long line up of very fit young men letting out testosterone. Maybe he has something in him that makes him stronger than we could possibly imagine?

Like Barry Egan that I have just referred to, he is prone to "episodes". The drinking of the torpedo fuel is neat (how he likes it?)  but while everyone else might be sipping it in cups he drinks it in gulps straight from the source. That drives home the idea that he is potentially explosive. The idea of having just lived through a violent episode and not being able to remember it also recalls the ending of CMBB.

But what is it that happened and  where is the master? Well PTA is funny. here we have, at the end of T1, the "master" shot showing us who has been interviewing him.. it's not PSH but some interviewer who merely sounded like him. Most notably, as wilderesque brought to our attention (but no one seemed to give a shit about), this master shot is actually a reference. We'll come back to the concept of familiarity in T2, but in this context, the interviewer offers to help Freddie remember what actually happened and what comes in response to that is the title card. And here is the punchline of T1, it presents the master not as the character but as "the whole picture" - the master shot - and it also refers to the master in the sense of original recording, the master tape. The interviewer is offering to help Freddie find the truth.



But the master can also be the master of ceremonies, the central figure that ushers the plot along. His absence is felt in T1 so we've seen his presence manifest itself in other forms. T2 gives us our first glimpse of the main mang, and it is in this second shot of T2 that he refers to familiarity. I am struck by the strange ornament in the background of this shot that appears like a globe atop a narrow stand, it is similar in shape to the ashtray next to JP in T1's master shot. So there are visual echoes and PSH refers to other sensory echoes.

T2 once again has Freddie starting on a shoreline and the visuals illustrating a question almost literally as he is asked why the sneaking around and that he has wandered from the path. We see PDL again in the red headed female (there'll be heaps of them here), she speaks about inspiration as Freddie sips a drink (more rocket fuel?). Whatever is in the cup, it fuels "that tracking shot" as Freddie charges towards the camera and with his turn locks us inside his head. The ridiculous number of overlaid questions, echoes of magnolia, and an attempt by the master to give Freddie "the whole picture", builds up to an explosive demand for truth as foreseen in T1.

Hopelessly inquisitive.. is a better description for how those surrounding Freddie act towards him. He appears sincere, perhaps naive, but possessing some truth that remains inaccessible and unquantifiable to those around him.

PTA is reaching FMJ levels with this one.
endless 'nothing is what it seems'-isms

polkablues

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Also, The Master pronounces nuclear "nucular," like George Bush.
Now you're in the *spoiler* place.

Sleepless

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P, the impression I got of the first trailer was that Freddy is being interrogated by the Master initially (we just don't see him), then it switches to the army guy asking questions when it gets specific about particular events (the fight on the beach, the missile-alcohol).

DocSportello

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P, the impression I got of the first trailer was that Freddy is being interrogated by the Master initially (we just don't see him), then it switches to the army guy asking questions when it gets specific about particular events (the fight on the beach, the missile-alcohol).

I'm not sure about this. It sounds to me to be the Navy Officer's voice the entire time, asking questions, reading over JP's file, trying to get to the core of the discussion. I think the reason we don't see PSH in T1 is because PTA is releasing these trailers with an episodic approach - Episode 1 (T1) there was an incident, JP seems unstable, he is having troubles within the navy. Episode 2 (T2) JP seems to have left the navy and is now on the lamb, he seems lost, distraught and without a path. Enter The Master to offer a new way of thinking.  It's like PTA is releasing a full trailer in separate parts. Which brings me to this:

Quote
let's focus on T1, why is the master not in it. All along we are shown almost direct parallels between the questions and the visuals. Are you mixed up, we see waves crashing, how's your sleeping, we see him drop, do you have nightmares and we see him forming the nipples of his sand statue (sex dream), knife to the throat and boxing it out are done very truthfully with the beach wrestle and sharpening his blade, but my favourite line is how he says "strooong", we see a long line up of very fit young men letting out testosterone. Maybe he has something in him that makes him stronger than we could possibly imagine?

I like the insight on the question/visual parallels, but my interpretation on why he says "strong" the way he does differs from yours. To me the interview is joke to him. He doesn't want to be there so for the most part he is telling the officer what he wants to hear. ie: I'm not mixed up, I sleep just fine, I'm strooong. I'd say he doesn't truly believe any of that shit, but rather he is mixed up, he can't sleep and he is lying to himself when he says that his overall health is "strong". He's strong minded in the sense that he is determined to make a new life, but there is a confusion surrounding him, (not remembering the episode, not remembering what he told PSH in T2) that makes him weak. JP is at a crossroads - ready to start anew, but too weak to know how. PSH sees this as an opportunity/easy manipulation.

also:


Quote
Hopelessly inquisitive.. is a better description for how those surrounding Freddie act towards him. He appears sincere, perhaps naive, but possessing some truth that remains inaccessible and unquantifiable to those around him.

Exactly! Well said.


BB

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PTA is reaching FMJ levels with this one.

Definitely. It's presumptuous to say this based on some youtube clips, but the material we've seen so far certainly looks more than a little like FMJ. That same slightly washed-out look. The white-hot windows (a general Kubrick trademark, I know, but in FMJ they are super hot, the daytime sky is almost always white). Subdued camera movement (so far, and FMJ has its notable exceptions). Lots of locked down shots. No apparent steadicam yet. This could be Malaimare's influence. Tetro is mostly composed of tripod shots (with notable, standout exceptions). I can't recall if this is true of the other two Coppola movies he's shot. But this strikes me as a new direction for PTA.

If this is his FMJ, I sense Freddie might be a combination of both Joker and Leonard. You can see it a little in Joaquim Phoenix's goofy grin, the way he chases that truck... That's Leonard. The "strooong," the chuckling "okay," his hopeless inquisitiveness... That's Joker. In either case a grabastic piece of amphibian shit. And I like the way other characters bleed into his frame. Just this little ghostly haze intruding upon him. Don't know what to make of it. But I like it.

Anyway, that means PSH will be the movie's Hartman. Perhaps a less shout-y Hartman. But providing the same psychological torture. "You will not like me. But the more you hate me, the more you will learn." "World of shit." All that. Digging deeper into Freddie's past and problems. Freddie in the role of recruit, being turned into a Marine. Or in this case, a Marine being turned into an agent of the Cause. Maybe? I think P's idea that "master" may also refer to master copy is apt, especially considering the Scientologistic (?) belief in past reincarnation. The "thetans" from which we all began. The whole "auditing" process, meant to shed a person of his or her past-life traumas and increase their thetan levels. Bringing one closer to his or her master (copy). Of course, we don't know how much the Cause is or is not Scientology, but all this stuff is in there.

Lastly, there's this essay by Bill Krohn about FMJ that's avaiable on The Kubrick Site. I've copied the last paragraph below. I'm not sure that there's anything to this connection, but I think there might be. I'll have to mull it over a bit. Curious to know what others think. Contains spoilers for Full Metal Jacket.

"I don’t want to leave the impression, in concluding, that Kubrick is without masters. He had one, Max Ophuls, who is as present in Full Metal Jacket as he is in an obvious pastiche like Lolita. Hartman’s first appearance, for example, visually duplicates the opening sequence of Lola Montes [1955], with Peter Ustinov’s ringmaster spieling to the backward-tracking camera as he advances past a line of acrobats standing at attention. William Karl Guerin, In a book on Ophuls, has taught us to be suspicious of this Mephistophellan figure and his twin, the Master of Ceremonies In La Ronde [1950], who subject the other characters and the spectator alike to the seductive rigors of a mise-en-scene designed to illustrate "a sinister conception of man." Traditionally, critics have tended to identify these director surrogates with Ophuls, and Kubrick, who revises his predecessor by killing off Hartman in the middle of the film, might agree with them, but all the ambiguities of Full Metal Jacket are already deployed in Ophuls’ late films, where, as Guerin has shown, a single close-up (Simone Signoret in La Ronde, Martins Carol faint and perspiring before her final leap in Lola Montes) is sufficient to derail the Master of Ceremonies’ infernal machine. In Full Metal Jacket the close-up of Pyle, insane, signals the imminent death of Kubrick’s Master of Ceremonies, which liberates images and characters from the machine of the narrative; and when the narrative begins to function again during the assault on Hue, the close-up of the young sniper shatters the spell, leaving us with those concluding images of the marauding horde, which recalls the Dionysian mobs at of Le Masque and the end of La Maison Tellier episode in Le Plaisir (1951): images of a world without a master of ceremonies."

Pozer

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pub's stuff is spot on. though like doc, i cant count out that it's not master saying "are you mixed up?" can anyone who's read the script confirm this? tagged with spoileries of course for my man blackman.

so ready for ep. Ʒ

aaaaand the nyquil just kicked in


ono

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Possible Spoilers:


I briefly skimmed the draft I have, trying to find the expression "Are you mixed up?"  I didn't see it.  It is the Master who addresses Freddie in most cases, though there is on instance where someone else does, if memory serves.  It's been too long since I've read it in full.  Unfortunately, the way this PDF is made you can't search the text.  If I have some time to reread it in full I'll report what I come across the second time.

BB

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Possible spoilers:

In the draft I read, the line does not appear. The script opened with a scene of Freddie being questioned by a doctor at a hospital to which he has been brought due to physical illness. Not specifically a military/naval doctor. Freddie was not receiving psychological evaluation, which is what the scene in the trailer appears to be. From just the two-odd minutes of footage we've seen so far, it's clear that the 2010 draft of the script has been significantly re-written. Or P.T. didn't shoot the script.

polkablues

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I can't find the link anymore (I thought it had been posted here, but I guess not), but someone out there wrote a blog post comparing that first teaser with some documentary showing WWII soldiers being psychologically evaluated by an army doctor. The layout of the room was practically identical, and the phrase "Are you mixed up?" was taken from that. I really wish I could find that link.

EDIT: here it is - http://dhsayer.blogspot.com/2012/05/looksound-familiar.html?m=1- I had found it through Cigs and Redvines, of course. It was a documentary made by John Huston called Let There Be Light.
Now you're in the *spoiler* place.

Sleepless

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^ Damn  :shock:

Pozer

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I can't find the link anymore (I thought it had been posted here, but I guess not), but someone out there wrote a blog post comparing that first teaser with some documentary showing WWII soldiers being psychologically evaluated by an army doctor. The layout of the room was practically identical, and the phrase "Are you mixed up?" was taken from that. I really wish I could find that link.

EDIT: here it is - http://dhsayer.blogspot.com/2012/05/looksound-familiar.html?m=1- I had found it through Cigs and Redvines, of course. It was a documentary made by John Huston called Let There Be Light.

are you messin with pub? ...

Most notably, as wilderesque brought to our attention (but no one seemed to give a shit about), this master shot is actually a reference.

i didnt know bout the "are you mixed up?" line in the doc though.

polkablues

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Yep, flat out missed that thread.
Now you're in the *spoiler* place.

Pubrick

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Everything about this movie is destined to be misunderstood.

For anyone interested in seriously discussing it, I think the key to the poster (other than 72 teef's direct association with a sea vessel) is the parallax distortion on the word master created by the water. It's an effect that jettisons the last two letters into a visible ether, increasing the size while obscuring the underlying presence, depending on position of the observer. As we read left to right we are actually drawn into the light the master is entering, and we realise as this happens (as we fall for the illusion) that what he is and what we see becomes disjointed.

The water itself has been a heavy focus on the trailers, from the shoreline introductions to the voyages on the sea. The font and curvature of the "surface" text as it appears on the white background resembles the label on a bottle of alcohol, like fancy wine, which other than positioning this image as a bottle out to sea (containing a proverbial message?) also throws back to the intoxication of Freddie in the first trailer and the intoxicating effect of the master's words at the end of the second.

Finally, the drop shadow effect on the text and its correspondence with the light highlights the artifice of at least two surfaces. Combined with the extra layer of distortion I have already discussed caused by the water, we are presented with an image that links "the word" and light, and the murky truth somewhere in between. It's a visual treatise on the treachery of images that simply echoes all the themes of the film.

Magritte said ceci n'est pas une pipe, PTA is saying ceci n'est pas une masterpiece. Not yet, it is a poster for one.
endless 'nothing is what it seems'-isms

Pwaybloe

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Yeah, it's mesmerizing JB. 

I suppose what's so fascinating to watch is PTA's growth over his contemporaries.  He really is now far beyond the reach of other filmmakers of his generation, and I don't see anyone catching up to him anytime soon.  I don't know whether to be sad or elated by this movie, because what does it hold for the future of cinema?  Is PTA part of the dying breed, or does he inspire those to follow in his footsteps?

polkablues

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Re: The name of the ship:

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Aletheia (ἀλήθεια) is a Greek word variously translated as "unclosedness", "unconcealedness", "disclosure" or "truth". The literal meaning of the word ἀ–λήθεια is "the state of not being hidden; the state of being evident" and it also implies sincerity, as well as factuality or reality.

It is also the Greek goddess of truth.  Notably, the ship's name is a de-Greekified version of the word/name, spelled "Alethia", without the second e.  A thousand film studies essays just started writing themselves.

Now you're in the *spoiler* place.

 

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