The Master (2012): “I am a writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist, a theoretical philosopher, but, above all, I am a man.”

image_evento_final_3897_2013-01-24_14_36_19Generally known for its parallels with Scientology, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master (2012) is a fine film. A story of a wandering and tempestuous man searching for a purpose, The Master follows Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) as he is pulled in by the charm and charisma of the leader of a special group entitled The Cause. Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) introduces Freddie to The Cause with his wife, Peggy Dodd (Amy Adams), by his side. Freddie finds solace and belonging in The Cause and goes with Lancaster as he spreads the movement across the country, whilst also working to find himself in the process.

Say what you like about Paul Thomas Anderson and his films, but I really enjoyed The Master. The acting was incredible, particularly by Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd, and Joaquin Pheonix as Freddie Quell, whose interrogation scenes are so tense and disturbing despite largely consisting of dialogue as a means of action. The story is a slow-burner and has a tendency towards being contemplative. There are many moments where the action is entirely psychological yet completely gripping. The direction is impeccable, and the cinematography by Mihai Mălaimare Jr is a particular highlight.

This post intends to highlight some of my favourite images from The Master. I initially watched this film on a small airplane television screen and enjoyed the story but wasn’t really able to appreciate the visuals. When watching this on a larger screen at home, I was blown away by the cinematography and the overall aesthetic of the film. Shot on 65mm film stock with a muted yet vibrant colour scheme, The Master is a visual masterpiece. The movement of the camera is so fluid and yet it manages to rest on some of the most perfect images, which appear to be arranged in a mathematical manner so as to optimally please the eye.

Please find below some of my favourite images and visuals from The Master. I’ve mixed up the images so as not to spoil the general plot of the film, but as usual, this film must be seen in motion in order for its amazing visuals to be fully appreciated.






















Watch the trailer here.


  1. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM maybe not for me………………..


    1. I honestly think you would detest this film! Maybe you could review it for the next Shitfest! 😀


      1. There you go!!!

  2. Absolutely gorgeous film, I agree. Seen it three times now and while I find fault with it for how impenetrable I find it, I certainly agree that it is visually one of the best films of the decade. Anderson’s latest, I believe, rivals it as well.

    Fun, unique read, Anna!

    1. It definitely is an impenetrable fortress of a film, but I kind of like it that way. Plus the visuals don’t hurt! Thanks Lukas!

  3. Great write up! I think this is one of my PTA films, and definitely one of my favorite Hoffman performances. It’s just fascinating all around.

    1. Thanks Brittani! You’re right, it is such a fascinating film with so many layers.

  4. Anonymous · · Reply

    Thanks for this Post, Anna.
    It reminds me that I must get around to catching this masterpiece some time, but it’s difficult to track down

    1. Thank you! I hope you get the opportunity to watch it again soon! 🙂

  5. Glad you highlighted the film’s stunning imagery because it is well…stunning. The movie is also one of my favorite PTA films.

    1. Same here Khalid! Such a great film.

  6. I’ve never seen this but looking at those images makes me want to

    1. You must see it immediately!

  7. This is a wonderful movie. PSH and Phoenix are both crazy good. It can be a little too deliberately paced at times, but it still works. And yes, there are some amazing shots.

    1. What a great combination of two amazing actors. I also think Amy Adams is amazing in this. Responding to these comments is making me want to watch it again!

  8. markkadams · · Reply

    Great movie in so many ways, as you point out. I just wish it had a conclusion befitting the rest of the film.

    1. I agree, the conclusion was a bit iffy! But to me it somewhat matched Freddie’s general character arc in a weird way.

  9. I have a love of PTA that goes way back, but I found this one a bit boring. I keep telling myself to rewatch it, give it another chance, but it’s hard to sign yourself up for more boredom!

    1. It’s definitely tough to rewatch something you found boring the first time! It’s why I’ve never revisited True Grit even though everyone tells me it’s amazing. I kept having microsleeps, it just wasn’t for me!

  10. Huge fan of this movie, despite it being a rather polarizing film among most cinephiles. Joaquin should have won the Oscar for this – yes, even over DDL in Lincoln. As for Hoffman… he was and will always remain THE Master.

    1. I would have loved to see Joaquin win the Oscar for this. Lincoln always felt like Oscar-bait and I never saw it!

  11. Despite it being my favorite movie of that year, I forgot some of those stunning images. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Hans! The cinematography and imagery of the film truly is stunning.

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