The Film Fatale

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The Master was the first motion picture in 16 years to be filmed on 65mm format using Panavision’s System 65 camera. Around 85% of the film was shot in this format, with the rest shot on 35mm. The last full-length motion picture to be shot in 65/70mm was Kenneth Branagh’s 1996 adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The decision to shoot in 65mm came from a desire to replicate the look of photos taken by vintage Pressman cameras, which use large-format 4x5-inch film. This also led to the use of the narrower 1.85:1 aspect ratio (65mm has a native aspect ratio of 2.2:1). Director Paul Thomas Anderson initially suggested shooting the film in VistaVision, and test footage was shot in that format, but the shallow-focus effect was not pronounced enough (x).


In The Master, In order to achieve the effect of clenching his mouth and talking out of one side, Joaquin Phoenix had his dentist attach metal plates to his teeth with rubber bands to hold them shut. The rubber bands weren’t strong enough to hold his mouth shut, so he removed them. But the metal plates, complete with screws that slightly cut up the inside of his cheek, were enough of a constant reminder that it allowed him to play that aspect of the character (x).

In The Master, In order to achieve the effect of clenching his mouth and talking out of one side, Joaquin Phoenix had his dentist attach metal plates to his teeth with rubber bands to hold them shut. The rubber bands weren’t strong enough to hold his mouth shut, so he removed them. But the metal plates, complete with screws that slightly cut up the inside of his cheek, were enough of a constant reminder that it allowed him to play that aspect of the character (x).


During the jail cell scene in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master where Joaquin Phoenix’s Freddie Quell unleashes a fit of rage, Phoenix actually breaks a real toilet. His actions were entirely improvised. Due to the historical past of the building where the scene took place, the toilet was also considered “historical”. Phoenix had no intentions to break the toilet, nor did he think it was possible (x).

During the jail cell scene in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master where Joaquin Phoenix’s Freddie Quell unleashes a fit of rage, Phoenix actually breaks a real toilet. His actions were entirely improvised. Due to the historical past of the building where the scene took place, the toilet was also considered “historical”. Phoenix had no intentions to break the toilet, nor did he think it was possible (x).