"The Master" trailer
John Huston's "Let There Be Light" documentary
Ok, I'm a huge PTA fan. That's apparent in this blog. I'm not sure how many of my posts in the past couple months have something to do with him, but it's definitely a big number. I've been waiting to see what his new film 'The Master' would look like for a while. I don't want to 'analyze' the trailer, but I've certainly seen it several times and would like to talk about it.
I also saw recently, "Let There Be Light," John Huston's WWII documentary about nueropsychosis in war veterans. There are a couple prominent similarities between this film and PTA's 'The Master' trailer, most noticably, a few lines of dialogue and the room's where soldiers are asked about their problems.
I know that PTA is a huge John Huston fan, and 'There Will Be Blood" was certainly a type of homage to "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre." The fact that he took inspiration from John Huston's documentary for his next film, tells me he's on a John Huston slant nowadays.
"The Master" is about the collision of two worlds. The world of Navy seaman Freddy Sutton (Joaquin Pheonix), and the world of Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymour Hoffman). What I found interesting about the trailer is that we only see one world, the world of Freddy Sutton. Now, I think that it is more for the sake of anticipation, which is a genius move from PTA. In a way, he is already creating a dynamic between the characters, painting the problem early on in the process, before you even see the movie. He's setting the stage for the arrival of Lancaster Dodd.
A good writer, a good storyteller, knows how to set the stage. In fact, I think that setting the stage is probably even more important than resolution. In what way does the audience anticipate the arrival of a character? How is the character to be perceived immediately? It's almost like meeting a relative or close friend's fiance for the first time. Your reputation precedes you. Now I'm judging you. Good luck.
As a writer PTA has taken direct inspiration from the era prior to the understanding of PTSD in the aftermath of WWII. As a filmmaker, he has already created a dynamic between the two most important characters in the film. What I felt the teaser did extremely well was create the conditions necessary for a character like Lancaster Dodd to become the hero. A man creating his own religion can appear wrong in so many different ways. As a writer, you have to ask yourself, how do I get the audience to care for him?
I think the film already answers that question for me. Sutton is obviously a derelict sailor, caught up in the remains of WWII. Lancaster Dodd is his Savior. He is there to help him. And in a way, the way I see the character dynamic so far, Sutton is there to help Dodd as well. Sutton will give Dodd a purpose and proof for his religious creation. Dodd will try to help Sutton assimilate back into society.
I'm obviously just speculating, but I've seen this story before. I would like to make the point that PTA is an extroadinary filmmaker not because of the subject matter he chooses or even the stories he tells, but the level of execution of his films and his ability to entertain. In a way, the fact that this movie has been called 'the scientology film' comes off as more of a selling point than anything else.
I've heard there are shots in this movie that come off like 'The Shining." I'm certain that there wil be elements of horror in the film, and I'm certain it'll be a crazy intense movie. Can't wait to see it.