The Master Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

The year 2012 was marked by the birth of the film The Master, the meaning of which makes it an innovative discovery of cinema. The story of a rude, uncouth, preoccupied and always drinking sailor is surprising and inspiring at the same time. What did the director of “The Master” want to tell the viewer? What is the meaning of such an unusual film?


Before looking for meaning in the drama “The Master”, let’s recall its content.

The war ends. Sailor Freddie Cowell (Joaquin Phoenix) is trying to start life from scratch. He gets a job as a photographer, then as a worker on an agricultural farm. But nothing happens – best of all, he prepares alcohol from improvised means, which he himself uses.

After a big drinking bout, the protagonist gets on a ship, where he meets Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour). The new acquaintance liked the drink prepared by Freddie. Cowell meets Dodd’s family and entourage, attending his daughter’s wedding.

Lancaster, as the founder of a religious organization, becomes Freddie’s teacher and patron.

The religious community “Mission” travels around America and spreads its teachings. Many people trust the new guru, but opponents accuse Dodd of human experimentation. Freddie defends his mentor, gets into a fight with offenders and police officers.

One day, Lancaster is arrested for setting up a medical organization without a license. He, along with Cowell, ends up in prison. For the first time, a conflict arises between friends – Freddie accuses the teacher of lying.

After returning, the Master begins to actively apply his methods on Cowell, trying to remove the animal essence from him.

On a note! The director of the film “The Master”, Paul Thomas Andersen received the award of the Venice Film Festival – 2012 as the director of the year. The Jury Prize for Best Actor was shared between Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

During the presentation of the new book, Dodd is again asked questions that he cannot answer. The teacher breaks down on one of the supporters of his method. Freddie beats up the representative of the publishing house – he spoke unflatteringly about the book.

Lancaster organizes motorcycle races in the desert. First he rides himself, then he gives the motorcycle to the main character. The sailor leaves for his former lover Dorris, who, as it turns out, is already married. Frustrated, Cowell withdraws into himself. He dreams that the Master is calling him to England.

The Dodd family does not accept the returned Freddie. The teacher himself offers him 2 options: stay or leave forever. The main character chooses the latter.

Plot Explanation

Now to the question of what is the meaning of the drama “Master”.

“The Master” is a heavy film that describes the unsweetened life of a demobilized sailor. At first glance, Freddie causes dislike in the viewer. His perverted inclinations, addiction to alcohol and constant thoughts about sex are frightening, make you think about the mental illness of a man.

The root causes of psychosis

But over time, the hero becomes sorry. The viewer learns about the tragic fate of the former sailor. Father drank himself, mother – in a psychiatric hospital. He was seduced by his own aunt who sheltered him. The consequences of military life laid down on childhood traumas.

Freddie is aggressive, unsure of himself, shy of women. His desire to find a loving, caring woman next to him is expressed in episodes with a sand lady. But this dream is so unsteady that in the middle of the film it is almost washed away by a wave of time.

In civilian life, no one sees him as a person. Everyone perceives him as a beast that has been released. No one tries to talk to him, to understand. But here is such a man – Dodd Lancaster. He asks questions, listens, praises, encourages. And the soul of a small, offended, unloved child Freddie responds to the attention of the Master. He says: “Come on, ask questions. I like it”.

It is the outcasts of society, flawed and mentally unhealthy, who often fall under the influence of religious cult organizations. The film shows an ordinary sect – it has supporters and opponents, there is even a real desire to improve the world.

But who are Dodd’s supporters? Women who easily succumb to his charm, or relatives who do not particularly believe in the convictions of the Master. Even the son of Lancaster considers his teachings nonsense.

Teacher and pupil

Freddy is the only one who is truly loyal to his teacher, who is ready to follow him anywhere, ready to unconditionally follow all his instructions and defend the honor of his older friend. That is why, on the part of Dodd, there is sincere sympathy for his “guinea pig.”

This means that the teacher and the student are not so different. They are both loners in life and need a sincere friend. Only Cowell has no false supporters, while Lancaster does. They both have the makings of a beast. But the main character does not hide it, and his teacher hides behind a noble shell. The scene in the prison and outbursts of anger during receptions demonstrate the explosive nature of the Master.

Few viewers take seriously the actions carried out by a religious sect. However, Freddie still got a lot from meeting Dodd. He became more confident in himself, overcame the fear of the future, ceased to depend on the opinions of others, and finally dared to come to his beloved.

After an unsuccessful matchmaking, it is difficult for the main character to continue the path to his goal, because there is no longer a landmark. His “starship broke down”. Cowell comes to a mentor friend for support. Here, from freedom and eternal unquestioning worship, he finally chooses freedom. Saying goodbye to the teacher.

It is interesting! The box office of the film “The Master”, the meaning of which is to acquire inner freedom, turned out to be less than its budget by $ 4,000,000.

What is the essence of the ending

What is the meaning of the ending of the film “The Master”?

Dodd manages to pacify the temper of the rowdy sailor for a while and hide him under the same shell that he himself has formed. But in the end, the essence of Freddy breaks out. This is evidenced by the scene with the sand woman, which reappears at the end of the film. The protagonist does not want to hide behind ideals, his own freedom and real life are dearer to him.

The Master is definitely a film with meaning. An interesting plot, excellent acting and a non-standard ending – there is everything that the viewer needs to get real pleasure from watching the drama.

Add a comment