Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2012 drama “The Master” follows Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix), a Naval veteran who arrives home unsettled and uncertain of his future after fighting in the war. He then meets Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), a leader of a religious movement known as “The Cause” who accepts him and takes him under his wing.
The film drew comments that it had some similarities with Scientology and its belief system, though Anderson denied that it was about the religion. Although, the filmmaker did say that the movie was partly inspired by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and his book “Dianetics,” among other stories and people.
A new video essay, “The Master: How Scientology Works,” by YouTube user Nerdwriter1 explains how Scientology’s practice of auditing is used in the film and how the movie features other techniques used by the religion.
It begins by showing how questions from Scientology’s Oxford Capacity Test are used in a scene between the two leads and how some of the manipulative techniques that Dodd uses on Quell to reveal his deepest and darkest secrets are very much like the methods that Scientology uses when auditing.
“People like Freddie, who experience [auditing] unknowingly, are susceptible to coercive suggestion whether its done maliciously or by someone not properly trained,” says the video. “They can be persuaded to think that the Church is right with a capital R and thus deserves all the time and money they’re asked to give it.”
“Hubbard held that auditing, like we see in ‘The Master,’ is the way to quote-unquote ‘clear every single person on Earth.’ When that’s your claim, there can be no uncertainty in your methods when uncertainty is the one thing that binds all forms of mental health,” it adds.
Check out the video essay below.