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Mark Kermode Mark Kermode | 12:36 UK time, Tuesday, 20 November 2012

After what seems like a long wait Paul Thomas Anderson's new film The Master is now playing in cinemas across the country. It opened first in London in 70mm - who saw it in that format and did it make a difference?

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The Master Revealed

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The Master

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  • Comment number 1.

    While having not seen it myself, yet, but I cannot help thing whether this'll be some kind of analogy to the debate between CD, vinyl and other formats in music. It should be interesting.

  • Comment number 2.

    I saw it in 70mm in London and to be honest it was not worth the extra money. The screen is not that big so you don't appreciate the increased clarity/resolution.Maybe this was because I was sitting nearer to the back, but I doubt it. You need an IMAX sized screen to appreciate 70mm.

  • Comment number 3.

    I would have loved to have seen it in 70mm but there is no where in northern ireland that i know of that is showing it. In the fact the only cinema in my local vacinity that still showed film rather than digital has just recently converted.and you do not know how much i miss the hum of the projector. Im intending on seeing the master as there will be blood was a masterpeice

  • Comment number 4.

    Is Joaquin Phoenix reviewing Transformers: Dark of the Moon?

  • Comment number 5.

    I've been twice to the 70mm print, and it looks unbelievable. It shines off the screen. I'm sure the other prints all retain this to some degree which is hard to compare until we put two screens next to each other.

    But I had to see it on 70mm because he shot it on 70mm and had the 70mm prints made.

    I think what's most interesting about the use of that larger format is that the film doesn't play out, for the most part, on a VistaVision, old-fashioned epic type scale. If anything, you have this insane clarity within only a shallow depth of field. The frame feels like it swims away into the distance but what we're dealing with, all we can really focus on, is that shallow area. To take in the whole of this overwhelming frame would perhaps be too much.

    (I'm saying this with the intention of it being seen as a thematic within the film, I'm not just onanising. I'm onanising AND undertaking a review).

    The Master seems to have one of its many roots in Kubrick, moreso than any other of PTA's films (save for the Korova-tyle bowling alley and 2001-like trajectory of There Will Be Blood). The world is huge and detalied and almost impossibly vast within his frames, but there's a central point upon which our focus is REALLY drawn. Freddie is very often it, be it in close-up when we're fixated on his screwed-up face, or when he wanders all over the frame. I also think one of the things which is so strong about The Master, just as with a lot of Kubrick, is that everything feels placed and it creates a sense of mass, of scale. But not an overbearing, 'study my mise-en-scene' sense. Just an environment which is believable and complex, and while we are drawn to this or that, so much is also going on around it.

    It looks great, it's a wonderful, frustrating, extraordinary film. It's massive, it genuinely contains multitudes, and it shows PTA flexing even more unexpected muscles once again. (I'd point out what I mean but I wouldn't want to spoil anything).

  • Comment number 6.

    It's not playing anywhere near me at all. I have a 14 screen Vue cinema up the road. Not playing at all, no Rust and Bone either. It's nonsense, even screening it for one day would suffice.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    Just watched it and thought it was amazing. However, the power went off around half way through. Never had that problem with Celluloid!

  • Comment number 9.

    I saw The Master in a digital 'print' at the wonderful Showroom Cinema in Sheffield and agree it looks amazing. The opening shot of the wake of a boat in crisp sumptuous blue sets the tone superbly. I'd still love to see the 70mm print though, to compare and contrast accordingly.

    I find it interesting how Mark refers to cinemas incorporating "what they describe as IMAX screens". I saw The Dark Knight Rises earlier in the year on the IMAX at Cineworld in Sheffield and was left a little underwhelmed by the IMAX experience, particularly for the princely sum of an additional £4.50 on top of a standard ticket!

    Is it just me or is the 'proper' IMAX screen at the National Media Museum in Bradford much bigger than the IMAX 'lite' that is popping up around the country?

  • Comment number 10.

    Will someone PLEASE see sense and show it at the ODEON Marble Arch about a week after they convert the theatre to an IMAX venue with 70mm facility's for the purists ;-)

    COME ON ODEON - TEAR DOWN THE WALLS - You ruined the best screen in London with your little boxes! - Hell I would even consider moving back to London for this!

  • Comment number 11.

    Being an American who was able to see it in September, I'm so glad that my favorite critic loved the film as much as I did. I'd been waiting for it since summertime and it is, for my money's worth, the best film of the year. It *is* a masterpiece. It's a 100% in every department, even the story, which I agree it's quite low on. I'm afraid many critics misunderstood the film simply because it's not formulaic. Of course there's no traditional character development, that's the whole point of the film! It illustrates that Joaquin Phoenix's character was much better off without the cult, as their "curing" methods were fake.

    As for the viewing format, I myself saw it at my nearest arthouse cinema who recently converted to digital and the film still looked beautiful. However, if I had the chance to see it in 70mm, I definitely would have. Celluloid, in my view, is superior to digital because it gives a projection an organic feel, whereas digital feels too perfect, too polished, and, thus, unnatural. Digital I don't mind, I just prefer film. I only distrust digital as a replacement of film.

    As for 3D, Mark, I share your feelings towards it. Nothing but a gimmick that the studios and multiplexes can use as an excuse for audiences to pay more. If it really was the future, it'd be a new thing, which it isn't. That's right, 3D's been sold to us since the '50s; only, then, it wasn't (and literally) forced in our faces. How nice it would've been if it'd stayed dead, to look back on it as some cheesy cultural aspect of the past like a bad '80s haircut. No, sorry, Robert Rodriguez just had to revive it! 3D goes against the whole idea of cinema. It's meant to be an illusion of three dimensions despite being projected in two. 3D ruins that magic by making it three-dimensional, which kills the illusion. Besides, 3D, as a gimmick as old as cinema itself, has become too common place. Every film with special effects these days is in 3D, even if the director didn't want for it to be. Hell, nowadays, you can watch stereoscopy at home on 3D television sets. It's no longer anything special. It might as well be a household commodity.

    I'm very critical of them because of the films they've made, but I highly respect Christopher Nolan and Wally Phister for dismissing 3D as the fad that it is and instead proposing IMAX as the future of cinema. IMAX is in every way the future of more-expensive cinema going. You're getting your money's worth when you pay extra to see it on a larger screen, which is far more immersing that the false illusion of visual depth that modern 3D tries to sell. Plus, in perfect contrast to the commonality of 3D, IMAX screens have their own cinemas, which are only available in large cities (at least here in America).

  • Comment number 12.

    I saw the 70mm print of The Master whilst on holiday in New York last month, and I went to see it specifically because I knew that the Ziegfeld was showing it in that format and I might not have a chance to see it that way back in the UK. It really looked beautiful, bright and vivid.

    It's hard to say whether it truly makes a difference how you see it, but I would venture that it doesn't make a big one. The slight flicker, the scratches and the luminousness of the picture lend the film an appropriately old-fashioned feel and a warmth that can be missing from digital prints, but I don't believe the format trumps the content. The Master would be phenomenal on a VHS tape if that was the only way to see it.

    I'd be sorry to see celluloid go completely, but we mustn't fall into the trap of nostalgia for it's own sake. Change isn't always a bad thing. Digital cinema technology has made it cheaper and quicker to get films to theatres, and in my experience seems to have cut down on a lot of projection problems.

  • Comment number 13.

    I watched it in Digital print and was mesmerised by the performances on screen. The standouts for me were every scene in which PSH and Phoenix were together alone.

    Regarding the 70mm "Gimmick": I don't really care for which format I am shown a particular movie. As long as I am immersed in the film experience and it is able to illicit some form of response from me (hatred, sympathy, love, laughter) then I am fine with it.

  • Comment number 14.

    I have made the effort to see the film twice on 70mm print (needless to say I loved the film in order to justify the expense, and I felt I could appreciate the film better on second viewing as I wasn't completely overwhelmed as I was on my first outing). This was the first time I have seen film projected on 70mm and the first I can remember not being in digital. The depth of colour was outstanding, with the oceans being leant a quality I'm not sure digital would produce. Also, there was noticeable warmth to the projection which I haven't yet seen on digital.

    I'm going to go see a digital projection of 'The Master' on Monday just to see if these qualities are due to the print or Paul Thomas Anderson's masterful direction; I will post my opinions after this viewing for a more definitive response.

  • Comment number 15.

    When I heard that Paul Thomas Anderson was shooting "The Master" on 70mm, I was initially apprehensive that he had morphed into a self-indulgent Michael Cimino 'esk auteur. Fortunately my fear didn't materialise when I finally watched the film on a 70mm print in London; I thought it was absolutely incredible. It felt like I was watching screen classic unfold before my very eyes and ever since watching it I can't stop thinking about it. I've seen it twice now on 70mm and digitally.

    I didn't really notice the resolution and latitude of the 70mm print as I was far too immersed in the story to care. However in comparison to digital version the print did give a certain opulence to the exterior sequences; notably the scenes shot on the beaches and on the warship - it made the sea look really blue.

    Celluloid projection is definitely on the way out, I afraid. I've heard that 20th Century Fox from next year is going discontinue the distribution of 35mm prints of all their films from next year. I'd thoroughly recommend watching the 70mm print of "The Master" if it's still available, it may very well be celluloid's swan song.

  • Comment number 16.

    Seen The Master? are you joking? I live by a World of Silly.Silent hill and Madagascar 3 for me.

  • Comment number 17.

    My local 20-screen multiplex ran this movie, albeit very briefly. I was more confused and frustrated with it than anything, I really lost patience with the film, but I'll be revisiting it when it gets its video release to see if my evaluation was premature. I believe the multiplex screening was in digital, and I'm not necessarily a fan of digital, but I won't deny that it looked simply stunning. Would I have seen it in 70mm? If my multiplex had been showing it, I certainly would've payed move. Would I have driven a significant distance to see a 70mm print? I don't know, probably not. My multiplex has one screen of IMAX, it's one of the smaller screens, sometimes jokingly referred to as LIEMAX. I do drive to the true full-sized IMAX screen to see things, however (I'm still kicking myself for missing my opportunity to see THE DARK KNIGHT RISES in proper IMAX or LIEMAX), it it truly a proper cinematic experience, worth the 20 mile journey. The multiplex LIEMAX screen is pretty stunningly projected digitally though, and his a fantastic sound system, and I'm willing to pay more for that. I'm pretty much done with 3-D, unless something really interesting comes along.

  • Comment number 18.

    [Six blog entries since incident]

    Am I the only one who'd like to hear the Doc's take on the biggest movie news of the year? Seemingly, as I'm the only one berating his silence on the subject...

  • Comment number 19.

    I saw this yesterday on digital (a Brit in California) and visually it was brilliant. To a certain extent I agree with others (@Ammar) who say the format shouldn't matter. Beyond a certain degree of quality, below which your viewing experience is actually disrupted (such as warped film), you should be immersed in the movie. You may get an overall impression of the visual brilliance of the piece (The Master, A Single Man are examples that come to mind - those blue water scenes, and those interior shots) but the actual form of presentation should fall away as you start to believe you are THERE and seeing these things as if in the real world. If immersion happens, you'll lose the conscious awareness of the quality of the information coming in through your eye, it won't matter, and your mind will fill in the rest. I find watching VHS perfectly fine after a few minutes of a good movie, although of course it is never aesthetically visually brilliant.

    As for the movie itself, I applaud PTA's attempt to make something different. However there was such a lack of narrative that, even though the two central performances were insanely good, I was bored. And I hate to say it, but I was bored in a similar way to the predictable narratives in accountancy driven movies (Transformers 2 onwards, Taken 2, 2012, etc). Boredom is boredom I guess.

    I'd just like to ask if anybody else (perhaps @KHolland96) noticed the movie lacked several scenes from the trailer (some of which are included in Mark's video above - both scenes with guns for example). Perhaps I saw a US version compared to a UK cut, and perhaps those extra scenes could have added to the film... perhaps another discussion point: at what point does a film start to be seen as a different film, purely due to editing?

  • Comment number 20.

    I saw this at the Duke of York Picture House in Brighton and don't believe it was in 70mm. Having just watched Kermode's video blog, there seem to be a number of scenes that were not in the version I saw at the Duke's (Phoenix with a gun, jumping off a ship, Amy adams shooting a rifle).

    I'm currently between moving back to Guildford from Brighton and my partner and I can never seem to find a film worth going to see at either cineworld or odeon. On occasion there is 1 film taking up 2 screens in the 2d and 3d version. This autumn the cinema has been flooded with movies sequels and we weren't even interested in the originals (Madagascar 3, Taken 2, Paranormal Activity 4, Silent Hill Revelation etc).

    I work in Guildford and am sick of people telling me how they went to see Taken 2 or Transformers 3 and it was rubbish. Yet when the next sequel is released they'll all flock to see it again due to marketing and be utterly disappointed. This just feeds filmmakers to make more garbage and make another quick buck.

    Why can't the the likes of odeon, cineworld and views show art house/indie flicks for one night only (special screening)

  • Comment number 21.

    Saw The Master on a digital print. It looked very good, but the film itself felt a bit flat. Over the years, I have seen 70mm prints of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Apocalypse Now, and Lawrence of Arabia, and there is no doubt that it is a stunning format.

    Just to do a little bit to clear up some of the confusion about IMAX (a fuller explanation is available at ):
    The main difference between the purpose built "Classic Imax" theatres, and the so called Imax Lite or Liemax, is the size and shape of the screen. The standard is "22 m × 16.1 m (72 ft × 52.8 ft), but can be significantly larger." This is larger than most of the retrofitted Imax theatres, but it is also slightly "squarer" in shape.

    For example: Watching The Dark Knight Rises on proper IMAX, certain "shot for IMAX" sequences (such as the plane grab at the beginning) fill the whole frame, impressive looking when the screen is essentially on a 3 story high wall, but the rest of the film is 16x9 which is letterboxed within the larger "square". There were a few odd sequences that cut back and forth between the two framings, which I felt bordered on jarring, or at best like split frames in films of the 70's. The print of DKR that I saw on the day of release at the Odeon Southampton, IMAX lite screen, did not have this effect during the shot for IMAX sequences (ostensibly those images were either cropped or squeezed), it just had a really good looking 16x9ish image throughout.

    At the very best the Retro fitted screens, by virtue of their size (or lack thereof) do not really take full advantage of the increased resolution of the IMAX format, and do not have that extra wow factor for material shot for the different aspect ratio of original IMAX. There are probably also subtle differences between the IMAX film 15/70mm and the digital version.

    If Dr. K. wants to push IMAX as the way forward, and that argument can be made, he does need to sort out which IMAX he's plumping for, and perhaps rebuke the cinemas that sell the cut-down IMAX experience at the full IMAX price. However, even when we have all singing and dancing IMAX screens they'll still be managed and run on today's multiplex model of distribution which targets teen-fodder and quantity of sequels over quality and breadth of audience. So we'll still have the same old... rope..., but we'll just be able to see it a bit better.

  • Comment number 22.

    I had the privilege of seeing this in 70mm on its opening weekend, and then again a fortnight afterwards at my local multiplex in digital. I haven't got great eyesight, so perhaps I'm not the best judge, but I don't think that the 70mm print was noticeably better than its digital counterpart. In this respect I don't think that it's worth making the pilgrimage to London just to see the film exactly how the director intended it to look. What I did thoroughly enjoy at the 70mm screening, however, was the experience of viewing a great film by a great director with fellow cineasts. The entire audience treated the film with respect, strictly adhering to the Code of Conduct. The same couldn't be said at my local World of Cine, where no fewer than 3 people walked out of the screening. That was after phone-fiddling, popcorn-munching, and seat-kicking their way through the first half of the film.

  • Comment number 23.

    I've been thinking about this. I believe celluloid is just better and I love the images, but that doesn't explain why I think it's better. So here's my theory:

    70mm may be high resolution, but if you want real clarity, digital is clearly superior. Celluloid's frames, up close, are blurry little things, but from a distance (or projected) our brains 'fill in the gaps', ignore imperfections and gradiate the colours to create a photorealistic image in our soft heads.

    My ridiculous theory is that digital projection removes these 'gaps', and our viewing experience becomes more of a filtering process. There's so much visual information on screen that we essentially become a filter, trying to work out what information we need and fatiguing very quickly if there is too much flying about (Transformers being a good example). This filtering is the opposite of the natural process of creating the image ourselves. I think it is this internal creative process that makes celluloid (or even paintings) 'engaging'. Because our brain is literally working to form an image, not closing down to filter a bumload of pixels.

    If anybody wants to fund my research into this, I need a stack of 70mm prints and some human brains.

  • Comment number 24.

    I saw the film in 70mm here in the States in September, and while it looked amazing, I don't think seeing it in digital would have made much of a difference in quality. I've seen films shot on beautiful screens with state-of-the-art digital projection that look pretty incredible.
    As for the film? I thought it was good, but not great. I applaud the film's aggressively expressionistic narrative style, but without any character arcs or plot, the 143 minute runtime just wasn't justified. Contrary to popular belief, masterpieces CAN be under 2 hours long.

  • Comment number 25.

    I realise the Bond hype has died down now but are you ever going to reply to the Bond villains blog??

  • Comment number 26.

    Went to see the 70mm print on the opening weekend. All I know is, it looked absolutely stunning. I would need to see the digital print to see if it was noticeably different

  • Comment number 27.

    By far the best film of the year. Only saw in digital but was so impressed I will seek out the 70mm print. PTA is truly the Stanley Kubrick of this generation

  • Comment number 28.

    I suffered through a dim and slightly fuzzy presentation at my nearest multiplex. The poor picture quality was all the more surprising because it was shown on their new, and much heralded, 4K digital projector.
    After the show finished I took a look through through the projection room window and was dismayed to see that the beam splitter and 3D shutter system was still in the light path.
    I wonder if this is the new norm for the multiplexes? It certainly reduces the difference between 2 and 3D, unfortunately by dragging 2D picture quality down to 3D levels.

  • Comment number 29.

    I have to say I saw this digitally and I was expecting more with regards to picture quality. The screen didn't pop like I thought it would. Having not seen the 70mm, it's hard to put my finger on what I find so disappointing though, but it was niggling at me for a while. Digital just seems to suck the life out of celluloid for me, I really think films shot for purpose should be shown for purpose whenever possible. Obviously the way the industry is, that's not really dooable, but still. I had the same problem adjusting to Moonrise Kingdom.

    I would have to watch both to make an informed decision but having seen other 70mm prints in the past, I certainly prefer the latter.

    It's abit like watching an upscaled DVD and then watching the Bluray. There's a loss of that clarity that defeats the purpose. There was one scene in The Master, on digital, which was a pan across a green car, which looked superb with all the rain littered on the sides. I have no idea why that stood out but it did.

  • Comment number 30.

    I saw it on a digital projection on a relatively small screen and I have to admit I still think it looked absolutely fantastic. The film itself was excellent and what surprised me most about it was how funny it was at times. Powerful performances from all involved, particularly (and obviously) from the two leads.

  • Comment number 31.

    @IdesOfMarchant Yes, I did notice the absence of footage used for the film in trailers. It's perplexing, but not too big of a surprise. Almost all film trailers these days do that. I'd just like to see those deleted scenes, back in the film especially, just to make sure the theatrical cut is the proper cut. Even the theatrical cut I think is a masterpiece, but I'd like to be able to judge the removal of those scenes used in trailers.

  • Comment number 32.

    Being an (admittedly less qualified, knowledgeable and well-paid) film writer myself, I attended the 70mm NPS (national press show) and was very much looking forward to seeing such a beautifully shot film in the higher resolution. Sadly, at this particular screening, the sound was not in sync with the images and after 25 infuriating minutes, the 70mm was abandoned and the digital print shown in its place. I have to admit that the replacement print looked every bit as stunning as the out of sync 70mm; the image seemed just as sharp and the warmth from the anachronistic equipment Anderson used was just as palpable.
    I did revisit the West End cinema showing the 70mm print a few days later and, apart from a vertical scratch on the film that remained firmly in place for at least half an hour, I can honestly say that I couldn't notice any discernible difference. The film is a masterpiece and its unconventionally approach to narrative will leave some unfulfilled, but as much as I would love to say that seeing it in 70mm is a must, I can honestly say that the gauge didn't make the slightest bit if difference from where I was sitting, and at £18 a ticket (plus booking fee), I don't think I'll be doing it again.

  • Comment number 33.

    I live in LA, and so had the pleasure of seeing "The Master" several weeks before it opened in the UK. I absolutely loved the film, as I do all of Paul Thomas Anderson's, but the real joy was seeing it in the 70mm print. I had this pleasure twice, but on the second viewing, about 20 minutes in, the screen went black. After a couple of minutes, an attendant came in to tell the audience that the projectionist (yes, this cinema had a projectionist!) had noticed that the 70mm projector had started to overheat and spark, and he had therefore been forced to turn it off for fear that it would catch fire. With apologies, the cinema then showed the rest of the film in its digital print, and while it still looked spectacular, there was a noticeable difference not just with the width of the image, as expected, but with the resolution and detail clarity. If you saw the digital print alone, I'm sure no one would see any difference, but seeing half 70mm, and half digital side by side, really showed up the difference in quality.

  • Comment number 34.

    Saw it on Friday and have to admit I still don't quite know how I feel about it. Obviously there was much to admire, the acting and cinematography were outstanding but the lack of actual story made it hard work, and if i'm completely honest, It felt slightly inert.
    I hate myself for admitting it cos PTA is one of my favorite directors and There Will Be Blood is in my opinion the best film of the last 10 yrs, and a lack of story hasn't derailed any of his other films for me, but I dunno it just didn't do it for me, not that day anyway.
    I do want to see it again though, feels like it might win me over after the hype and expectation has died down and I can watch it in the comfort of my own home without the sound of people grazing in the background.

  • Comment number 35.

    Havnt seen it yet. I will .But will it be as good as the BBC`s danish T.V. series The Killing 3 , judging by the first episode, I doubt it.

  • Comment number 36.

    I saw the 70mm print in Leicester Sq which had a prominent scratch running vertically down the middle of the first reel.

    The colours from the 65mm negative are beautiful and, to me, are what stood out most about the film's appearance. It gave the period setting greater authenticity.

    This is in contrast to something like Michael Mann's digitally shot 'Public Enemies' which seemed to be a slightly jarring combination.

    (Correct me if I'm wrong) but the colours should be more or less the same across 35mm and digital prints too?? So the palette of The Master can be appreciated by everyone.

    I think with 'The Master' the size and detail of the frame is not SUCH a concern because the characters are big enough all ready. I don't think it is '2001...' or 'Lawrence...' big so would have no qualms about seeing it again in digital or 35mm.

    That said, as a nerd, I will treasure my 70mm ticket stub.

  • Comment number 37.

    Oh, and I loved the movie!

    Reminded me a bit of 'A Clockwork Orange' with it's pace, talk of an animal-like man becoming conditioned and it's Rorschach test sequences.

  • Comment number 38.

    I saw The Master last week at an excellent independant Cinema in Leicester. It was only showing it in digital, which I found a little confusing as they have shown films ON FILM before. The Dark Knight Rises they shown on 35mm. But as far as the film itself was concerned...I just loved it. I was expecting to have to work harder to get into it as I have heard from many critics (like yourself) that it isn't as accessible then perhaps There Will Be Blood is. But I surprised myself how much I was engaged throughout, and I want to see it again.

  • Comment number 39.

    I saw this The Master in the 70mm. I haven't seen it in the digital print to compare, but I was blown away by it.

    Always think its worth making the extra effort to see the film in the way the director intended it to be seen, to be able to truly judge the film.

  • Comment number 40.

    "The Master" is a masterpiece. Having just recently seen the movie (sadly not in the intended 70mm) i was just mesmerised by the honest, brutal performances from Phoenix and Hoffman, and not even concieving how the film should have looked in a wider scope. Although i thought it was strange watching a PTA film in a 1:85 ratio, seeing as he prefers the widescreen format over the years. I feel that the smaller ratio befitted the circumstances of the characters, because of them feeling imprisoned in their own minds; the delusional aspects. Still, the film holds you in a headlock due to it's unpredictability of it's lead character, Freddie Quell. Hoffman was the least accessible of Anderson's creations, which forthrightly made the ambiguity of his intentions more intriguing. I'm sure the forthcoming blu-ray will feature the 70m cut, so it wll be interesting to see how it plays out - it would probably benefit the desert scenes more than anything else. And to conclude: Jonny Greenwood's score complimented the visuals in an epochal and elegaic fashion. Mesmerising stuff.

  • Comment number 41.

    I saw it in 70 mm print although I did not appreciate the print to extent that others may have noticed. What I will say is that the colour was fantastic with the blacks looking as black as they can be which is rare outside of IMAX.

    The only issue really is the cinema it was shown in. The Odeon West End is dreadful and has no character.
    There is a huge amount of seats however because they are not staggered in stadium style, I could see the backs of everyone heads. On top of that the seats were uncomfortable before the film started which is never pleasant for a long film such as this. The screen it was shown on was very small and did not in my opinion show off the film to its full potential.

    I loved the film and the niche fact it was on 70mm (although I could not really tell), I did not have like the cinema, the screen or the staff for that matter.

    Perhaps I should raise this with the cinema directly...

  • Comment number 42.

    'Did anyone make the trip DOWN to London...?'

    Sir, one always travels UP to London and DOWN to the country.

  • Comment number 43.

    As an Odeon Employee, I was lucky enough to see the 70mm of The Master for free at the West End. However, being a huge Paul Thomas Anderson and having never seeing a 70mm print, it was crucial that I take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

    My expectations of the format were not only matched, but greatly exceeded. The colours were vivid and expressive, the grain added a texture long forgotten in the digital era, and overall, the image looked clearer, sharper and brighter. To add to that, there was a projectionist in the booth the entire time, paying careful attention to the presentation of the image.

    Paul Thomas Anderson has said in the past that film projection is a sublime and wonderful experience, whereas digital is simply akin to watching the greatest TV screen in the world. Having first hand experience of the digital projection era, it was fantastic to see a film-maker pay such attention not only to the format which he shoots with, but the format he presents it with. It would be wonderful to see more special film screenings of new releases, as it is a shame that this experience is secluded to only one cinema.

  • Comment number 44.

    Whatever happened to the film club we had going on here, Mark?

  • Comment number 45.

    KHolland96 - I was thinking the same thing - where's the follow-up to Local Hero?

  • Comment number 46.

    I'm too young to have ever experienced celluloid on the big screen. However, I went to see The Master on the weekend and loved it. On exiting, amongst the mumbled voices I heard nothing but praise for the film. I'd love to make the pilgrimage to London to catch the film on celluloid, but honestly I can't see how it could improve the experience of a film, and in particular, of these fundamentally flawed and interesting characters, any better. Perhaps someone here can enlighten me?

    And by the by, best film of the year.. so far.

  • Comment number 47.

    I did see it in 70mm and whilst I haven't seen it since it has been released nationwide, the 70mm was beautiful to watch. Compared to the other films I've seen this year, not counting Dark Knight Rises in IMAX, the picture was a lot clearer and seemed to have a lot more depth, if that makes sense. The film is absolutely incredible and proves my point that Paul Thomas Anderson will be the next Scorsese. Even though I have money on Lincoln to win Best Picture and Day-Lewis to win Best Actor, I really hope The Master picks up all the awards it deserves.

  • Comment number 48.

    Going to see it tonight in standard digital print at Reading Showcase. So what follows is off-topic, so apologies.

    I live in Bracknell and have at least 3 multiplex cinemas within a 10 mile radius. So approx 30 screens. The Master has been screened 4 times a day for 1 week at the aforementioned Reading Showcase and from tomorrow reverts to one screening a day at 10:30pm. It is not being shown at my local Odeon or at the VUE in Reading.

    Rust and Bones (another film I would love to see), Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild have not shown at any of the chains. My local so-called art house cinema in Bracknell simply shows main stream movies that were at the multi-plex months ago.

    In order to see any of these films (with the rare exception of The Master) I need to make the expensive trek into London. Which I did a few weeks ago to see Beasts of the Southern Wild. Otherwise there is no choice but to wait for the blu-ray.

    I know there are economics at play here but I guarantee there will have been late night screenings at the Odeon Bracknell of Taken 2 which have played to empty audiences. Why are independent films not being given a chance?

    Mark - I have read your comments about how indie films that occasionally crossover (such as The Artist) end up damaging Indie cinemas as they miss out on revenue. But where I live the indie cinema is just not up to scratch.

    There needs to be legislation on this in order to force cinemas to show a wider range of movies. Rather than the constant diatribes against 3D and this format against that format, a figure as repected as The Good Doctor would be using that position to much greater effect to campaign for more diversity in the multiplex chains. Because at the moment quality cinema is the privilege of Londoners.

  • Comment number 49.

    I've seen it in both 70mm and standard digital. In both formats, the film looks utterly sumptuous. However, the 70mm print gives the film an ambient glow; like it's being screened through a prism. It looks warm, hypnotic and utterly absorbing, all of which are the emotions one felt towards the narrative and characters. The Master is a masterpiece.

  • Comment number 50.

    Watched it in 70mm at Odeon West End a couple of weeks ago. Yes it certainly is a stunning movie and I would recommend it… however, don't be too disappointed if you can't get to see this print, particularly given that the projectionist has managed to put a scratch right down the centre of the frame (Odeon did put up signs offering refunds to anybody who wanted one) that last for the first 20 mins or so. Also, its worth mentioning that the screen size at the Odeon West End is not exactly the Empire screen 1 and you do find yourself asking, would it have been significantly different in a digital projection? Maybe not, but I'll wait for the blu ray purchase rather than attend another screening.

  • Comment number 51.

    Call me a philistine, the atmosphere of the venue makes more of a difference than the format to me; bar a big imax screen, eg Waterloo. I've seen some footage of The Master and the camera work sorta makes it a bit too hyper-realistic: Like my visual senses have been magnified to see tons of visual detail in EvErYtHiNg.

  • Comment number 52.

    I have seen The Master twice but in normal digital format, I don't live in London so what can I do. But I just want to say that if ever a film merited a second viewing its this film. It's one of those films that I was slightly unsure about after seeing it for the first time but I knew I liked it I just had to see it again. And the second time when you can focus more on the scenes, the performances etc rather than the old thought process of what's going to happen here exactly? It is actually basically perfect. Every scene is perfectly constructed, from the writing to the directing to the acting to the music. Greenwood's score is incredible, and even better than his score for There Will Be Blood. Philip Seymour Hoffman was incredible, as was Amy Adams but Joaquin Phoenix was absolutely mesmerising I don't think I've ever seen someone act that convincingly. He just becomes that character even better than DDL as Daniel Plainview in TWBB. The informal processing scene in the first part of the movie is the most intense scene of acting I've ever witnessed and what PTA does in this film that was pretty much absent from TWBB is the inclusion of greater character emotion in the characters espicially Quell. I definately had emotion stirred in me for his character, espicially in the processing scenes, the story with the girl he loves and the scene at the end. Definately a masterpiece and PTA is the greatest filmmaker working today, an absolute legend already.

  • Comment number 53.

    Just see this in digital format. Enjoyed it tremendously. Drew me right in to each of the two main protagonists worlds. Somewhat confused, however, by the number of scenes in the trailer and in your blog which are not in the final release of the movie. I guess that they will be in the deleted scenes on the DVD. I wonder therefore whether the movie could have been even better if the final 5th was tightened up (I felt some loss of tension after the motorbike scene) and could have had some additional material included elsewhere.

  • Comment number 54.

    It looks great in digital, so I presume it's even better in 70mm. Though, I still shan't be satisfied until I can sit in a 21st century cinema and finally be able to look up at pin-sharp, full-HD. For me, the often stunning perfection of Blu-ray (I almost cried when I watched my LAWRENCE OF ARABIA disc) has somewhat degraded the whole cinema experience. Yes, I know the change is coming, but since 'going Blu-ray' two years ago, I've noticed I'm watching fewer and fewer films at the cinema. In general, I just wait for the Blu-ray now, to watch my own 'premiere' with the best visual and audio quality I have available in my own home. So, as great as 70mm may look, it isn't full-HD and, therefore, won't be making me salivate, or induce a trip down to London.

    As for the film, its one weakness lies in the undercooked screenplay that no amount of masterful direction and acting can mask. Its visually stunning, but the script says nothing to me. THERE WILL BE BLOOD it ain't.

  • Comment number 55.

    Hi Mark really enjoy your blog I'm a long time listener first time writer.

    I was looking forward to watching The Master for a long time now and when i heard it was getting a limited 70mm release in London I was sold. I sat down in the newly allocated "premium seats" (that i did not pay for) and waited for the curtains to open. When they did to my surprise the 70mm print of The Master was smaller than i thought, at first I was unsure perhaps i'm making a mistake. No, it's definitely being projected in 1.85 and not the 2.28(there a bouts) it should be. So he cut off the sides of his own film? What? Why? Never mind i guess it looks great I think to myself and then a beautiful birds eye view shot of what looks like the trailing sea water from a boat but all of a sudden it starts flickering and my eyes feel like they were being punched by a butterfly. It takes me a while to get over this but perhaps this is just a mistake in the projection room or the fact that my eyes are now tuned to the screen of a computer but i still can't shake this ratio from my head i feel cheated almost I should be seeing more.

    I read Jason Gorber's excellent article on the subject and have since learnt that PTA chose the aspect ratio so that the audience feels like they have travelled back in time, the cigarette burns being a clear example. The films cinematographer Mihai Malaimare said "Paul believed 1.66 or 1.85 felt right for the period, but 5-perf 65mm has a native ratio of 2.2. We decided to center-crop the 65mm neg to 1.85, which meant losing the left and right sides of the frame."

    Now, If a musician decided that he wanted to record his new material in an analogue studio, magnetic tape, apex 8-track reel-to-reel tape recorder, all of that, but when it came to mixing he decides he's going to cut off all the low bass sounds and all the high trumpet sounds…therefor negating the main benefits of using the format.

    Surely the immersive qualities of a full 70mm print shown in its correct 2.2ish aspect ratio are far more effective in transporting your audience back in time than chopping the sides off. I mean I don't doubt that PTA knows what he's doing but I don't understand it. To me it seems like an irrational choice given the tools he used, his idea of transporting us to a time through the image is undermined as ultimately it gives us a choice. It taps in to our emotions rather than drag us in to a world through them. I think all this anticipation created about The Master getting a limited 70mm release set it up to disappoint or at least not full fill its promise.

    I find myself seemingly in a more difficult position in that PTA has made a film that may do away with the superior quality argument of celluloid projection over 4k. Digital will eventually outrun film & win the first leg at home but the second leg is on our turf the ethics of projection and how a film should be shown will perhaps always be in our favour. Digital only ever emulates celluloid in recording movement through algorithms and 1s and 0s and then converting that information back in to frames but the art of Motion pictures is not one of recording movement. Like the title suggests they are a series of still photographs that when shown at 24 frames a second, through a lightbulb, create the illusion of movement.

    The film does indeed look great but the experience is not worth the £18.50 I paid to see it.

  • Comment number 56.

    Saw it today in digital as I wasn't given the option of the 70mm print. It looked great visually anyway. It's not a black or white/good or bad polarized perspective of the two main characters. You are asked just to observe. I liked this viewpoint as it has become tiresome to 'take sides'. Just to observe them objectively instead of making a moral judgement was refreshing.
    Hoffman was outstanding and Phoenix excellent too (although he was rather rehashing his Johnny Cash persona at times). It felt like a 'real' movie if you know what I mean...

  • Comment number 57.

    I have now seen The Master in both 70mm and digital print and can say that in both cases the film is stunningly beautiful. However, I must admit that the 70mm did look better. This was not just limited to the alien desert landscapes or the churning ocean, but also the interior shots. The scenes were richer in their colour, lending scenes an almost painting-like quality. This is not to say that the difference was revolutionary, only that it was a noticeable difference and I preferred the 70mm print. However, I also preferred the admission charge for the digital projection which was nearly half the price.

    70mm isn't for every film, or even a majority I suspect, but when a craftsman like PTA is behind the camera it does enhance the film.

  • Comment number 58.

    Saw a digital version at The Pictureville in Bradford and it looked superb. As for the film, a masterpiece. As for the acting, sublime.

  • Comment number 59.

    I saw The Master this afternoon in digital. I went in not expecting to love it and i didn't, whilst i wasn't bored, i wasn't enthralled either. The good doctor said this film would divide audiences and he was right, but then it's film like that keep this blog from being boring.


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