The Master: 10 Things We Think We Now Know About Scientology From Watching the Movie


A lot of the buzz surrounding P.T. Anderson’s latest epic, The Master, which hits theaters today, has been around the plot’s supposed parallel to the creation of Scientology. We don’t know much about Scientology aside from the fact that when you join, they pair you with a robo-spouse and we’re pretty sure you get your own 747. Also, the organization owns acres of prime L.A. real estate. But after watching the two-and-a-half-hour flick, which stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd, the charismatic leader—or “Master” as it were—of the pseudo-scientific-religious group, The Cause, we think we’ve learned a few things.

  1. You Get to Time Travel: From what we can gather, you spend a lot of time in a semi-hypnotic state allowing your subconscious to travel back in time through your own memories and your previous lives. Apparently, this feels awesome, since everyone seems to come out smiling. Or maybe they were just napping. It’s hard to tell.
  2. You Drink Bomb Fluid: The character Freddie Quell, played by a terrifying Joaquin Phoenix, mixes up intoxicating chemical concoctions out of anything, including bomb fluid. Lancaster Dodd takes a liking to the libation and keeps Freddie on hand to whip up batches of the stuff. But can you drink more than 16-ounces of it in New York?
  3. Laura Dern is Involved: We’re not sure how, as she had maybe five lines in the entire movie (we have a feeling a lot was left on the cutting room floor), but she seems way into it. And it’s not even a David Lynch script.
  4. Dianetics is Really Long: The movie’s central tome, also called The Cause, looked to be at least 1,000-pages. And that’s just the first volume. We can only make it through 15 pages before falling asleep—even with 50 Shades of Gray.
  5. Have Doubts? They’ll Beat the Crap Out of You: This happened a lot in the movie. We’d think about joining The Cause just to avoid a Joaquin Phoenix beatdown.
  6. You Throw Really Weird Parties: On the upside, there’s an open bar. On the downside, your guests are a bunch of naked old people.
  7. You Can’t Blink: During “processing,” the official questioning period, Freddie Quell is instructed not to blink while answering a series of questions. We’re not sure what the results are – other than an urgent need to blink while watching the scene.
  8. The Perks are Awesome: One of the “experiments” involved riding a motorcycle as fast as you can through the desert. Which seems pretty cool. Then rich people lend you their yachts.
  9. Farting is Bad: A lot of The Cause seems to involve separating humans from animals. Dodd claims flatulence is a trait of the latter. He’s never seen an Adam Sandler comedy, has he?
  10. The Key to the Universe is…. At first it was resolving conflicts in your past lives. Then, it had something to do with laughter. We don’t know; it’s confusing. Where’s Tom Cruise when you need him?