The Master - Film Analysis

The Master - Film Analysis from MUST SEE FILMS on Vimeo.

The Master Analysis

PTA’s gift to homosapions.




The title of dodds book draws attenton to the theme of evolution and in the master we see two humans engage in a love affair from different ends of the evolutionary spectrum.

Freddie is the ape like man, chasing his impauses and animal like desires and dodd presents himself as the highest form of superhuman. both men do not fit into society and discover commanalities in each other. The films decpetion in the first 30 mins causes you to think of freddie and dodd as completely different

however I aim to show how the two are connected by deeper human dualities of emotions and impulses.





Freddie is the most natural character in the whole story. It is interesting that his behaviour resembeles a child or teenager, completely human but slightly navie to the socety and his place in it, his ape like urges and child like behaviour shows: -

Easily influenced


Bodily functions

Quick to anger and Violence

Displays Learnt behaviour

Taken advantge of


Imadate respones.


This poster helps to illistarte how freddie is the only charcter acting naturally and that dodd and his wife have 2 sides to their characters, the same human urges and a complex persona to fit in to society.

Another element that supports this is other charcters are doubled images of dodd and his wife further showing us the falsness and domesticated front which freddie is without.


Our introduction to the characters emphasises their different charcaterisations of ape and superhuman but dodds finsihes with the all important reveal that he is still just a man and therefore at the core batteling with the same urges as freddie.


It is then appropaite that freddie and dodds first meeting and connection is made through shraring mind altering substances of moonshine alcholhol. Each are very different but right from there initial interaction they are both revealed to have a weakness towards alcholhol, compounded by his lack of self control to drink the full contents of freddies moonshine.


This occures on Dodds ship which is approapiately named as Alethia [Greek for "truth"].

, as the meeting and experince the two charcters will share will reveal the true nature of both men.



Freddie’s ongoing desire in the film is female compainonship, genion climpes of his longing can be seen in the flashbacks and the moemnts spend with the woman at the end.

Freddie has lost in love and this is symbolised by freddie trying to steal a femal knick knack but can fit it in and leaves it, This represents doris, this love he left behind and could not keep ahold of, later to be judged but the portarate , referenecing the pressence of woman in the film.

The sandwoman also repressents the girl he left behind, which is revisited throughout the film. Updating us on freddie progress and development.

Beause freddie has strayed from his lost love and the added pressure of the war, his womanly urges manifest in strange sexual forms, which is just a heated representation of a much deeper geniouin need.

Freddies lost love is much more suggnificant an issue as even in the short beach shots we see that freddie doesn’t really fit in with any of these men, remaining and outsider and ultimtely having his own issues before entering the war.

Entering the cause


As a free spitit, freddie is made to think for a short time that he has a problem and is taken advantage of and experimented on by the cause.


Freddie is talked to as an aminal, alien, a spy, a dragon but is closer described as an adoleson teenager.

LEFT and RIGHT diagram

During his time at the cause he is constaly torn between ‘what he is’ and ‘what other want him to be’. This is literally shown in the scene where he walkes back and forth.

Freddie is made to choose between his own nature which graves sex and the cause which is unatural to him usualy resulting in violence. When walking back and forth touching th wall and window, ‘the wall’ reprsents the cause as he becomes more violent towards it and is a dead end, but ‘the window’ repesents sex shown but the sexual movements towards the window and its transarancey which shows future and life beyond the present room or state of freddies mind.

The motor bike scene is another example of dodd choosing one direction in which he ends up where he began and freddie chosing another which takes him forward to his long lost love, showing us that as an animal he can only be cagged for so long.

Like a teenager , (show rather than tell. )

Bodily functions also seem of some significance

Freddie farts in response to one of The Master's questions, and later says he wishes he could fart in Clark's face. The Master equates Freddie to an animal consuming his own feces. Later, after their fight in the jail cells, the scene ends with a lengthy shot of The Master urinating.





Dodd is constaly at battle with his inner conflicts which is pulling him in opposite directions. On the one hand he wants to social accepted and on the other he is attarcted by freddies display of acting out his desires, desires that dodd also burdended by.

Dodd admires freddie, for not wearing a mask in the domesticated society, dodd constalty makes referrence at being above other life forms and species but at his core he is still a human.

1.Over the course of the movie, we learn that Dodd’s current wife is not his first. Indeed he has had previous “wives” (we do not learn how many).

2.And as already show he gives into temptation and consumes all freddies alchohol.

So like freddie he is an experimenter and has a strong sexual appetite

Dodd’s message and experimentation with ‘the cause’ is derived from his own psychological struggles.

All of which points at Dodd’s struggle with his own beastly nature. I believe this is a key, perhaps the key to understanding why Dodd is so attached to Freddie.

Freddie is a projection of Dodd’s beastly instincts

The two men see commanalities in each other and form a love affair with one another, sharing the deepest of urges, good times, secrets, displaying loyality and trust and dodd is forced to plea with freddie to stay at the end of the film and he enjoys exploring his urges which is wife so actively discurages.


Both men masturbate away from us and facing water





The master title:-

Being a master of ones self,

, one controlling the lesser,

misdirection of the title and freddie being our main character, even though they call hoffman the master is even more misdirection as his wife his is master and is the true contoller of the cult.


Wife(the master)(superego)


This poster shows dodds wife hand and an overpower pressence that will contorl and dictate the direction of th cause and dodds life, his wife is his master and the overarching driving force of a lot of decisions of the film, she tells freddie to put something in his future and go after it. Unlike freddie who takes care of himself, his wife commands and deicdes when he can feel humanly pleasure as a power play to show she is indeed the most dedicated to the cause and convinced of her infleunce. Her confidence is personified in the many double set in her image.

Frueds theory on ones personality pulling in different directions as part of internal conflict and can be broken down into 3 mindsets.


Id = Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix) - Basic, instinctual, seeks pleasure (sex, alcohol) and avoids pain, no concept of morality.

Ego = Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymore Hoffman) - voice of reason, common sense, separates out what is real, seeks to teach. Conflicted to strike a balance between the Id and Superego.

Superego = Mary Sue Dodd (Amy Adams) - critical, moralizing, aims for perfection, idealist, punishes misbehavior with feelings of guilt, has influence over the ego, strives to act in a socially appropriate manner, stands in opposition to the Id

Showing us why she dislikes freddies pressenc the entire film.!


Film references.

Taxi Driver, ACO and the master are all stories of outsiders with viloent/sexual urges in which society and others have saw it fit to interfreer. all 3 films present a seemily cured and happy ending, it is also interesting tthat all charcters visit the cinema screen during the films, some to be brain washes and other in dreams. Unlike ACO where alex is brainwashed, freddie is sleeping in the cinema, again showing that the cause has had no affect on him.

The scene in the cinema could have been an unprompted drem sequence that kubrick was known for and the mens connection was misteriously shown by an anniomos man bringing a telephone into and empty cinema of a cartoon, is all a dream sequence, supporting this is the attitudes of the master when he arrives, making no mention of the phone call and his wife is surprised he has shown up. Also the desk wasn’t expecting him.

Brown bunny:-

Vincent Gallos brown bunny is also a story of a lonely man reliving his forgotten love and obsessing over sexual fanstasy, a link to this film is made in the motorbike scene, as is Dr strangelove and riding the bomb.

Motobike scene, amy put it into his mind, put something in future and whn ur rdy 4 it go get it.

TWBB=camera set up.

TWBB and the digging scene

TWBB= ending, the master disowns the sergicate son.

Fight scene on beach = 2001 dawn of man fight

Stealing rocket= shutting down hal, expersene and red hue.

Bike= dr stranglove

Finish with popsong=dr strangelove

Reborn in different character= full metal jacket.

Brainwash=clockwork orange and mindcontrol

Naked song= eyes wide shut

Taxi driver=gun shot

Brown bunny= motorbike


The repeated shot of the sea that opens the film separtes 3 phases in freddies development. The first is freddie in a downward spiral, the second begins when he returns to sea to meet dodd and enters the phases of theorpy, not with the cause but with the dodd as developments the skills to love again. And the 3rd is a more open, accepting person who ultimately attarcts another to his life.


Part 2:-

Daniel and freddie taking picture compostions.

Daniel and freddie slap themselves and barry restains.

‘where have we met before’ =Dodd and eli are heads of a relion and believe in exorcsim.

Daniel and freddie have undeneiable talents for their craft each working form inutitition.

The master and Pdl and TWBB show a connection to the sea, master and pdl talk of hawaii, barry is happiest while there, freddie constantly return to the sea and for daniel, his is most hopefully when close to the sea talking with HW and instead of returning back to the fields at the end of the film like HW he remains closed of in his house and it ultimately doomed for failure.

The films and in chronological order

2001 monolith, (Prince0gotham)

PDL=pian connects to lena

Master=the sea brings him dod which is the catalsyt for change which ultimatelyy teaches him to be open to pthers. Dodd is really freddies first love that teaches him to grow and go on to find his true love. Resemblance between winn and lena.

TWBB=oil rigs=brings him HW

TWBB I hate most people

PDL I don’t know how other people are

Master most people are asses if that’s what yu mean.

A trilogy of love and loelines.


The secret is laughter:- shift in tone from 1-3.

From PDL to TWBB the change is tone and style is so far apart atht none would susspect, hwoever the master is inbetween and is the mising psice of the puxzzle, as it shows progresively lighter tone and supplies the idea od living beyond ones own life, which could be inteprtied as living into other films.

Freddie and dodd and daniel and eli make deals with each other.


The end sequence begins when freddie takes action and makes his own decision to leave on the motorbike.

The cause didn’t cure him from his supposed alcholo and crazyness but did improve his tolerrance for people, compare the date and photo at start to the converstation with mother at the end.

Freddie using dodd lines at the end of is intential ambigious as the audience will relate it to the cause curing him, however his urges and nature remain, his personailty due to dodd’s acceptance has taught him to allow others in and that a relationship is possible.

The final shot shows us the sandwoman who represents doris, the girl freddie left behind closing the film with the message, freddie has grown and now has some of the skills necessary for a relationship but will never forget doris, perhaps the reason he went to war in the first place was because of the feeling of not being ready even though doris was ready to sacrisfice for him.

Every man whether ape of superhuman are still faced with the same ingrained human urges and no matter what issues a person has, we all have the ptoential to grow and find love through our own paths and in our own time.

At the end of the film, freddie remains the same, unchanged by the methds used at the cause, still craving sex and our last image of him is happy, the experience he takes from his time at the cause is the reltionship he build up with dodd and values his friendship, understanding and seemingly spiritual connection, he uses the same tools dodd used the build raptuor with him with his new love interest, meaning freddie has been touched by the relationship he expeirnced but unchanged by the methods of mind control and attempts the refrane him from sex and alcholol as his closing scene is meeting a girl and at a bar. Winn.

  • 11/08/2014 17:20:20
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  • Film Analysis
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  • Darren Foley

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