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First Glimpses Of The Possibly Controversial Film "The Master"

Salomon Fuentes |
May 21, 2012 | 5:38 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

The first trailer of the highly anticipated Paul Thomas Anderson film “The Master” was released Monday, dropping the first real footage of the project.

Though the trailer drops very few hints as to the overall plot of “The Master,” every early indication suggests the film will be a not-so-thinly veiled critique of L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology.

“The Master” stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd, a brilliant religious leader of a group he personally founded called “The Cause.”

The trailer shows sailor Freddie Quell (co-star Joaquin Phoenix) enjoying himself on the beach and being interrogated by someone who appears to be a military official, though Hoffman is noticeably absent.

Journalists at Cannes were given a longer preview Monday featuring Hoffman and his on-screen wife (played by Amy Adams) together. They were also shown footage indicating Quell will seek spiritual guidance from Dodd and his upstart religion.

Much of the hype around the film has surrounded its supposed hard look at Scientology, especially given Hoffman’s physical similarities to Hubbard.

The Church of Scientology has seen increased exposure in the past few years given the prominence of members like Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

But it has also seen high-level defections and dissidents from its Hollywood circle—none bigger than “Crash” director Paul Haggis who left the Church in 2009 over its support for California Prop. 8 that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

This will be P.T. Anderson’s first film since his 2007 Best Picture-winning “There Will Be Blood.” The “Boogie Nights” director has delved into more serious dramas in recent years and “The Master,” on the surface at least, appears to be a continuation of that trend.

Expect to hear some controversy as the film gets closer to its release date.

“The Master” opens nationwide October 12

Reach writer Salomon here





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