Master, The (Blu-ray) (2012)

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Released 13-Mar-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Deleted Scenes-Back Beyond (19.59)
Teaser Trailer-and Theatrical : (16.56)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 143:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Joaquin Phoenix
Price Carson
Mike Howard
Sarah Shoshana David
Bruce Goodchild
Matt Hering
Dan Anderson
Andrew Koponen
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Jonny Greenwood

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

†††† John S recently reviewed the DVD of The Master and his review can be found here. John explained, quite rightly, that the film, like much of Paul Thomas Anderson's work, makes few concessions to the viewer and presents a story that demands repeated viewings to understand. Many will find a single viewing to be a strange and dark experience and won't sign up for a return journey. John looked at the nature of the film and its place in the Anderson oeuvre. For those interested in getting a complete picture of the film may I suggest that you read the plot summary below first then return to Johnís review for the background and the technical information, then turn back here for a little more comment on the extras included with the Blu-ray and DVD releases.

†††† Joaquin Phoenix plays Freddie Quell, a sailor who has emerged out of World War II as a profoundly disturbed man. It is never clear the extent to which Freddie was already a troubled soul prior to going into battle. In any event, he is an alcoholic with aggressive tendencies who finds it difficult to hold down a job. Wandering up through San Francisco he observes a marvellous boat with partygoers on deck and slips on board to crash for the night.

†††† It is the boat (or seems to be) of Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) the enigmatic leader of The Cause, a pseudo religion which seeks to remove negative thoughts from those who are troubled by their pasts. Lancaster is struck by the damaged quality in Freddie (as well as his ability to brew up moonshine) and keeps him on the boat as an able seaman. It turns out that Lancaster and his intelligent and driven wife Peggy (Amy Adams) are travelling around with a group of their most dedicated followers to spread the good word amongst the wealthy and curious in different ports of America. It is not all "smooth sailing" however. When delivering his speeches and performing processing on willing guests Lancaster is often subject to criticism. He doesn't take criticism well. Freddie takes it less well and is often involved in violent scuffles.

†††† The dynamic of this little family is at the core of The Master . Much to the chagrin of Lancaster's family, including his son and daughter, the Master spends much of his time and energy working with the seemingly unsaveable Freddie who is put through hour after hour of processing in order to destroy his past negative thoughts.

†††† Plot wise that is about it for The Master. Anderson is really only interested in the emotional dynamics and, as John has pointed out, many critics and certainly many viewers have been left puzzled by the elliptical quality of the film which refuses to explain or purely entertain. Like any great work of art The Master deserves study and attention. It was no surprise that Anderson's friend Tom Cruise was given a special showing of the film due to its close connection with the story of L Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. On the one hand the film makes no direct attack on the Master and yet on the other it reads at times like a processing attempt on the audience, a path leading down a dim and dark trail. Anderson's films have become increasingly bleak with difficult and unlikable characters from the comparative sunny Boogie Nights.

†††† The performances are stunning throughout - painful to watch sometimes but stunning. Phoenix, whose own family was tied up with the Children of God cult for a while seems to bring Quell out from some frightening place. The Master belongs in every collection of fans of serious cinema.

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Transfer Quality


†††† The Blu-ray of The Master is presented in the same aspect ratios the DVD, 1.85:1.

†††† In his review John pointed out that the film was shot on 65 mm and that this would pay great dividends in terms of increased resolution. From his review it appears that the DVD was a marvellous looking film and the Blu-ray ups the ante even further. It is a superb transfer which has remarkable crispness and an amazing level of detail.

†††† The colours are bright and stable although it must be said that most of the film has its characters in fairly colourless surroundings. A lot of browns dominate. The level of detail in clothing is wonderful and the flesh tones are accurate. The detail is also greatly appreciated in the faces as Anderson uses a good deal of close up.

†††† There are no technical issues or problems with the transfer. It represents one of the best recent Blu-ray transfers. It will be interesting to see a comparison between the DVD/Blu-ray and eventual 4K transfer that will surely be on the market in a few years.

††††As with the DVD the Blu-ray contains descriptive subtitles for the hearing impaired.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


†††† The sound for the film is a DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 track. There is also a Dolby Digital 5.1 track providing descriptive narration for the vision impaired.

†††† The sound is also of high quality throughout. The dialogue is capable of being heard clearly throughout. However, I say "capable" because in reality Phoenix presents his character Freddie as almost Gollum like in his physical and vocal constriction. That can make it extremely difficult to hear his dialogue irrespective of the quality of the sound transfer.

†††† The music by Jonny Greenwood essentially follows on from his work in There Will Be Blood although his influences here reflect the 1940s and 50s rather than the old time America of that film. Once again he uses dissonance and strange rhythms to back the scenes. Specific music helps convey the atmosphere of the time.

†††† There is not an extraordinary level of work done in the surrounds nor is the sub-woofer called into action that often. Nevertheless an excellent sound transfer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


†††† The Blu-ray release contains the same extras as the DVD.

Back Beyond

†††† This 20 minute sequence of deleted scenes and outtakes from the film is scored by Greenwood and presented almost as a complete sideline to the movie. Recent articles in the Atlantic and Slate go into great detail, interestingly so, into the role and meaning of deleted scenes in home video presentations. The Atlantic article suggests that the lure of these scenes is to give us more information to help complete the characters and yet the danger of them is that, once seen, some moments will colour future viewings of the movie. This film is a case in point as there are some moments that had they been in the film would have further explained or at least confounded viewers. Part of the reviewing process is that we watch all the extra materials including deleted scenes. There have been several occasions on which material that has been removed explains the troubling point in the plot.

†††† So watch them at your peril and you may be left asking yourself why the contents of the box caught fire!

Teasers and Trailers

††††Once again Anderson likes to do things a little differently. The teasers and trailers for The Master have also entered the realm of critical head scratching for the reason that much of the material seen leading up to the release of the film was not in the final cut of the movie. Therefore these trailers are themselves a different interpretation of the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††† The Region A release has a greater suite of extras. They include:

†††† The latter is relevant as Anderson said that he drew inspiration for the film from John Huston's documentary about WWII veterans.


†††† The Master is not an easy viewing experience. Like There Will Be Blood it presents difficult and perhaps tragic characters and examines their mental state and possible motivations. It does it in an oblique, elliptical manner which is a breath of fresh air for those who like their movies complex but will infuriate to tears those who like dramas to have an intelligible arc.

†††† There is no criticism of the sound and vision, however, as both are superb.

††††The extras are brief but interesting as well as thought-provoking.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Friday, March 22, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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