Even if "The Master" isn't quite the breakout hit that "There Will Be Blood" was, it is undeniably one of the most talked about movies of the year. Paul Thomas Anderson's film continues to spur discussions and debates, and conversations are nothing less than passionate. The picture is one whose enigmas last long after the viewing is over, encouraging and demanding a second or third viewing, and luckily for fans, there will be even more to dive into on the forthcoming DVD and Blu-ray release of the film.
Earlier this week, Film Independent at LACMA presented "An Evening With Paul Thomas Anderson," and the filmmaker brought the goods. First off, as he has extensively talked about in the press run for the film, Anderson has cited two wartime documentaries by John Huston as being influences on "The Master" — "Battle Of San Pietro" and "Let There Be Light" — and he screened both of them. The former is a pretty straight-ahead look at the Italian campaign, and features an introduction by General Mark Clark. But it's in the latter picture that many will see the most ties to Anderson's film.
"Let There Be Light" was so controversial at the time, it was banned from public screenings until 1980. As The National Film Preservation Foundation note, the film which chronicled what we now know as PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome) "pioneered unscripted interview techniques to take an unprecedented look into the psychological wounds of war" and "its remarkable innovations in style and subject, which in the 1940s were at least a decade ahead of their time." The documentary follows a group of men from their arrival into a military hospital through to their discharge, and it's certainly worth a look. Both "Battle Of San Pietro" and "Let There Be Light" can be viewed below.
After those docs played, Anderson then showed a 20-minute reel of deleted scenes and footage from the film that he confirmed will be on the upcoming DVD/Blu-ray release in a single montage/pastiche. Portions of it were used throughout the promotional campaign for the movie in the Anderson cut trailers, but there are lots more. SlashFilm were on hand and have a very detailed rundown of the scenes that were shown. You can click over there to check it all out, but among the highlights:
-an extended breakfast scene between Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) and Peggy Dodd (Amy Adams) in which she explains time holes
-Clark (Rami Malek) telling Freddy that Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) once died in a hospital for seven minutes, which inspired him to write his book
-Another Lynch-ian scene, this time with Freddie guarding the box he dug up in the desert with Lancaster. When he gets curious, he opens it up only for a small fire to pop out of it.
-Freddie is made First Lieutenant of The Cause at the convention, but arrives late after beating up a man outside.
Undoubtedly, lots more to soon explore. No word yet on when it will hit home video, but "The Master" should really be seen on the big screen first.