Scientology-inspired 'The Master' casts spell at Venice fest

  • Little Science Behind 'Pollen Vortex' Prediction

    Little Science Behind 'Pollen Vortex' Prediction

    Little Science Behind 'Pollen Vortex' Prediction

    Headlines warn of yet another bad allergy season stemming from this winter's polar vortex, but these dire annual predictions may be based more on guesswork than science. Count the pollen to know for sure. (April 25) …

  • Country Club for Exotic Cars

    Country Club for Exotic Cars

    Country Club for Exotic Cars

    There's a new country club of sorts for the well-heeled in Georgia. Instead of hitting golf balls down the fairway, members of the Atlanta Motorsports Park are driving some of the world's most exotic cars on a two-mile road course. (April 25) …

  • Today in History for April 25th

    Today in History for April 25th

    Today in History for April 25th

    Highlights of this day in history: Guglielmo Marconi born; America gets it name on world map; American and Soviet troops meet on Elbe river; Space shuttle Discovery deploys Hubble Space telescope; Ella Fitzgerald born. (April 25) …

The film "The Master" cast a spell on viewers at the Venice festival on Saturday with Philip Seymour Hoffman playing a charismatic leader loosely based on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Hoffman's character takes a troubled World War II vet played by a feral Joaquin Phoenix under his wing in this latest work by Oscar-winner Paul Thomas Anderson, director of "Boogie Nights" and "There Will Be Blood."

The film starts with Phoenix as Freddie Quell and his rapid descent into alcoholism and mental illness after the end of the war. He is rescued by Hoffman's Lancaster Dodd, who vows to treat him as "my guinea pig and protege".

Although there are no explicit references to Scientology in the film, there are strong parallels between that belief system and Dodd's "The Cause".

"There's a lot of similarities to the early days of dianetics," Anderson said, referring to a set of ideas and practices followed by Scientologists.

"The beginning of that movement inspired me," said Anderson, adding: "I really don't know a whole hell of a lot about Scientology, particularly now."

He said he had shown the film to leading Scientologist Tom Cruise, who was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Anderson's "Magnolia".

"We are still friends. Yes, I showed him the film and the rest is between us," the director said in response to a question at a press conference.

But Anderson said the centrepiece of the film, which is shot with a 70mm camera giving it an epic feel, was the bond between Quell and Dodd.

"I think we're just trying to tell a love story about these guys," he said.

It is also significant that it is set in the post-war era when there was "a tremendous amount of hope but a lot of bodies in the background," he said.

Anderson added that he was surprised when Phoenix took part.

Phoenix said virtually nothing except for "I don't know" and "No" at a press conference and walked out at one point before returning and lighting up.

"I asked him to be in every other movie I made but he said no which is a bit of pain in the ass. But this time he said yes," Anderson said.

With its portrayal of the repetitive "processing" mental exercises employed by Dodd and his followers in the 1950s, the film itself acquires a hypnotic quality underscored by Dodd's passionate pseudo-scientific assertions.

The discordant string music by musician and composer Jonny Greenwood -- best known as a member of the British rock band Radiohead -- and the minutely-studied period set details add value to this impressive work.

Quell and Dodd could not be more different personalities, even though Dodd is also sometimes quick to anger when his movement is called into question.

In one particularly memorable scene they are both taken to a Philadelphia jail where a wild-eyed Quell proceeds to trash his cell and throw himself against the bars as a suited Dodd watches him calmly from the next cell.

But their relationship develops into a powerful bond and Quell becomes a faithful acolyte although he still struggles with his inner demons.

Cult leader or not, Dodd is genuinely concerned by Quell's fate and wants to help him attain "a state of perfect" instead of being "a silly animal".

"I think they identify with each other," Hoffman told reporters.

"They're coming from different places but I think they were born the same thing. They're both wild beasts. One of them has just tamed it and he's trying to teach other people to do that," he said.

"Ultimately he wants to be wild like Freddie is."

The film, however, ends with a separation between the two as Dodd's movement gains in magnitude, leaving audiences guessing as to Quell's future.

"The Master", which according to reports in US media cost around $35 million (28 million euros) to make, is scheduled for release later this month in the United States and Canada and early next year in Europe.

Follow @YahooMalaysia on LINE for daily entertainment updates.

Loading...
  • Fiza, Adam kini sudah berbaik semula?
    Azizah Saleh - Tupai
    Fiza, Adam kini sudah berbaik semula? 1 hour 15 minutes ago
    Fiza, Adam kini sudah berbaik semula?

    Hubungan suami isteri pasangan Fiza Halim dan Adam AF dikatakan sudah pulih semula. …

  • Elaine Daly kembali bercinta dengan Hans Isaac?
    Azizah Saleh - Tupai
    Elaine Daly kembali bercinta dengan Hans Isaac? Thu, Apr 24, 2014 12:13 PM MYT
    Elaine Daly kembali bercinta dengan Hans Isaac?

    Mereka dikatakan telah bercinta semula kerana Hans memuat naik gambar mereka bersama keluarga masing-masing. …

  • Hafiz Suip nafi ambil dadah
    Azizah Saleh - Tupai
    Hafiz Suip nafi ambil dadah Thu, Apr 24, 2014 11:39 AM MYT
    Hafiz Suip nafi ambil dadah

    Penyanyi popular, Hafiz Suip didakwa mengambil dadah kerana dilihat semakin kurus sejak kebelakangan ini. …

  • Bieber leaves LA airport
    Cover Media
    Bieber leaves LA airport 8 hours ago
    Bieber leaves LA airport

    Justin Bieber entered the US on Thursday after hours of questioning by US Customs officials. …

  • Foxx’s electric Spidey date
    Cover Media
    Foxx’s electric Spidey date 8 hours ago
    Foxx’s electric Spidey date

    Jamie Foxx’s daughter wore unusual make-up to the Spider-Man premiere. …

  • Tidur berdengkur jejas kesihatan
    Azwa Iela - Tupai
    Tidur berdengkur jejas kesihatan 2 hours 26 minutes ago
    Tidur berdengkur jejas kesihatan

    Berdengkur menyebabkan seseorang tidak lena tidur malah menganggu ketenangan orang lain ketika tidur dan majoritinya terjadi pada kaum lelaki. …

  • Kanak-kanak montel, comel atau berpenyakit?
    Azwa Iela - Tupai
    Kanak-kanak montel, comel atau berpenyakit? Thu, Apr 24, 2014 11:17 AM MYT
    Kanak-kanak montel, comel atau berpenyakit?

    Tampak comel namun hakikatnya bayi yang montel berisiko menghidapi penyakit obesiti. …

  • "Wireless key finder", penyelamat anda
    Azwa Iela - Tupai
    "Wireless key finder", penyelamat anda Wed, Apr 23, 2014 4:47 PM MYT
    "Wireless key finder", penyelamat anda

    Adakah anda merupakan seorang yang pelupa dan selalu kehilangan kunci akibat terlupa di mana anda meletakknya? …

  • In US urban decay, ex-drug dealer is glimmer of hope
    Véronique Dupont - AFP News
    In US urban decay, ex-drug dealer is glimmer of hope 43 minutes ago
    In US urban decay, ex-drug dealer is glimmer of hope

    Amid the urban decay of Camden, New Jersey -- one of the poorest and most dangerous of US cities -- a former drug dealer who did prison time is pushing to give his community a new lease on life. "I was not supposed to be on this side of statistics -- to be alive, free, to take care of my kids," Anthony Dillard, now an entrepreneur and artist, told AFP. Together with his partner AJ Riggs, he created a fashion label last year -- "Made in Camden" -- in the aim of "restoring the morale and pride …

  • Five tips to protect your eyes
    Yahoo Newsroom
    Five tips to protect your eyes Mon, Apr 21, 2014 12:50 PM MYT
    Five tips to protect your eyes

    Just like every other part of your body, your eyes need to be protected too. …

Comments on Yahoo pages are subject to our link to Comments Guidelines. You are responsible for any content that you post. Yahoo is not responsible or liable in any way for comments posted by its users. Yahoo does not in any way endorse or support comments made by its users.