The Master is a 2012 American drama film written, directed, and co-produced by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams. It tells the story of Freddie Quell (Phoenix), a World War II veteran struggling to adjust to a post-war society, who meets Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman), a leader of a religious movement known as "The Cause". Dodd sees something in Quell and accepts him into the movement. Freddie takes a liking to "The Cause" and begins traveling with Dodd along the East Coast to spread the teachings.
It was produced by Annapurna Pictures and Ghoulardi Film Company and distributed by The Weinstein Company. With a budget of $30 million, filming began in June 2011. Cinematography was provided by Mihai Mălaimare, Jr., Jonny Greenwood composed the score, and Leslie Jones and Peter McNulty worked as editors. The film was partly inspired by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, as well as early drafts of There Will Be Blood, stories Jason Robards had told Anderson about his drinking days in the Navy during the war, and the life story of John Steinbeck. The Master was shot almost entirely on 65 mm film stock, making it the first feature length fiction film to be shot and released in 70 mm since Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet in 1996.
Initially the film was set up with Universal but fell through due to problems with the scripts and the budget. It was first publicly shown on August 3, 2012, at the American Cinematheque in 70 mm and screened in various other cities in the format prior to its official premiere. The film officially premiered on September 1, 2012, at the Venice Film Festival where it won the FIPRESCI Award for Best Film. The Master was released on September 14, 2012, in the United States to critical acclaim. The film received three Academy Award nominations: Best Actor for Phoenix, Best Supporting Actor for Hoffman, and Best Supporting Actress for Adams.
Freddie Quell is a sex-obsessed alcoholic World War II veteran from Lynn, Massachusetts, struggling to adjust to post-war society. He becomes a portrait photographer at a department store but is soon fired for getting into a drunken fight with a customer. Freddie then finds work at a Salinas, California cabbage farm, but his moonshine poisons one of the elderly Filipino migrant workers and he is chased off.