Sept. 15, 2022 – Ironically, his one skill, the uncanny ability to make moonshine out of numerous toxic liquids, only adds to his chaos and decline. From bomb fuel to photo-developing fluid, from mouthwash to paint thinner, his alchemical concoctions are dangerously potent. After one such mixture leaves an old man dead, he quickly flees a mob, finding a deceptively safe haven in the Master’s cult. 

Karl Marx once remarked that ‘religion is the opium of the people’. While Anderson’s cult in The Master is composed of a wealthy and privileged class, the film still demonstrates how spiritual leaders can exercise control – in this case, over those with more money than sense. With a distillation of spiritualism, snake oil, and Scientology, the eponymous ‘Master’ of the cult (Philip Seymour Hoffman) intoxicates his followers. His charisma is spellbinding, even to a wary audience.


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