Water and Enlightenment in Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘The Master’

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An exclusive video essay.

In Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, Freddie Quell undertakes a spiritual journey that instead of a straight line takes a crooked kind of circle for its path, coming back to where and who he began. But along the way Quell with the aid of Lancaster Dodd and The Cause experiences several pivotal moments that either push him towards or pull him away from spiritual betterment, each of which the director has paired with water-based symbolism. In the following video essay I seek to explain these symbols as they pertain to the evolution – and devolution – of Freddie’s soul.

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist