Point of View: The Master

The_Master_2I’ve been the student of cinema since age seven; I adore films that are written with characters in realistic manner. To give one an idea; perhaps a much clearer one in a way that whatever it is within that squared frame in a dark room is perceivable as much as it visible and alive through the eyes of man in real life. Fiction; based on a true story or be it an action adventure, what audiences seek is heart and soul. Not within the structure of the story only, but within the structure of the writer’s characters. Norman Bates, we can set this character from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic film, Psycho, as an example; isolated from the society and brainwashed by inner demons, Bates sees the world from the frames of the Bates Motel’s windows as much as he sees the world from the house that is standing behind the very motel. The bleak side of the character, which I noticed after watching the film for the fifth time, I understood that what Bates sees is nothing, but his damaged self. His damaged personality indeed, yet not the world the way, we as audience and citizens of this world see. Bates, in many ways, is cognizant that the world, which he creates day and night, is pretty much perceivable.

Paul Thomas Anderson, in The Master, his latest film, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, defines the consequences in the bleak world through the eyes of Freddie Quell, limned by Joaquin Phoenix. A damaged self and personality, which I am sure Norman Bates, if wouldn’t be isolated from the society, would see and understand, too. Freddie is not a loner, physically as we see it clearly, yet he is one from mind and heart, though. Paul Thomas Anderson comprehends the notion that if one man can define the tragic, that bleak side of his to the world, perhaps the world can understand that man at times cannot be tamed. So, travels away this animalistic character that we see in Freddie Quell, walking over himself, ruined and lonely. Paul’s intentional artistic strokes, as a proverb as his film is, leaves to his audience to define where Freddie Quell is going to end up.

We can define the ending in many ways; I took some time and went through many analyses on the net by other film aficionados, especially where Freddie Quell is going to end up in the end. Is he going to be following the rules that Lancaster Dodd, The Master taught him? – Dodd, perhaps is manipulative to others as much as Freddie is to himself. But, Paul doesn’t give us the opportunity to think that Dodd is an animal, using Freddie. In reality, in their world, Dodd, a lonely man, in his mind, finds Freddie as a fun friend. Yes, Dodd has his own children, wife, but not friends. His task is quite risky, a goal that he’s attached with for long and believes that with such goal, when achieved, he will succeed in this lonely life. A friend is after all needed to travel along. He, with his best efforts, attempts to tame the damaged Freddie Quell. Dodd is an inquisitive individual, so therefore he conducts with Freddie a session of Question and Answer in order to absorb his mind and make Freddie believe that what this world is means something. It’s valuable. Freddie is hurting from heart as he divulges to Dodd about Doris, a girl, whom Freddie left behind once.

Along with the Master and his family, Freddie continues the path; he becomes someone, who is more than a friend. A believer and a protector to Dodd, but for a while, though. Freddie, in a scene, when Dodd and his family in front of the crowd reveals Book 2, The Split Saber, as Master talks on the stage and doesn’t know what to really talk about. If one remembers, Dodd’s son on the porch in Philadelphia tells Freddie, “He is making this all up as he goes along”. – Freddie realizes, as he frowns for a minute, concentrated to understand the Master, who is on the stage. He understands the Master finally. He is making everything as he goes along indeed. Freddie’s escape from The Cause damages Dodd. It breaks Dodd in half mentally, yet Dodd moves  back to the loneliness to make his only dream reality. Freddie dreams that Dodd finds him after a long time, on the phone as they share words; Dodd reveals that he is in England.

When Freddie visits Dodd again, Dodd in tears understands the damaged Freddie; offers Freddie to stay with them, but under the condition not to leave ever again, though. Freddie says perhaps in another life. Dodd emotionally and with anger inside him sings to Freddie, Slow Boat to China. Freddie manipulates The Master and his believes. A free man, a free soul, wild, no matter in what condition, slams the definition of life, which Dodd has written. Paul defines to us Freddie’s troubles, sex, his addiction, the sickness, on the bed as a naked woman is sitting on Freddie, ruling perhaps Freddie’s life as Freddie mocks The Master. But, Freddie ends up on the beach, next to a sand woman in the final scene. Some man cannot be tamed. I think staying with The Cause was beneficial for Freddie, but the soul inside Freddie bothered him to believe that within the frame of such make believe world nothing to him makes any sense. Freddie tragically sees the world from the window of his bleak soul.


Author I Rohan Mohmand I Founder & Editor in Chief I A film enthusiast, screenwriter and a news reporter at Mnightfans.com. He’s also the co-founder of Robopocalypsemovienews.com, who writes a column on film at Cinematicimpact.com as well.