The 50's newsletter The Aberree inspiration for 2012 movie The Master


Lisbeth Salander
Mimsey Borogrove said:
. . . it seems like Paul Thomas Anderson took the El Ron character and cut him in half, each the flip side of the other. One being the animal, booze / sex obsessed, the other the intellectual.

Revisiting a post of mine from 2012 on ESMB

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I've read the script. What you said there is the same impression I got from reading the script a couple times. It's almost as if the younger character played by Joaquin Phoenix, Freddie Quell, embodies a younger Ron coming back from the war very mentally troubled, drifting without direction, a lot of money and women troubles, perhaps a lot out of control. Freddie Quell definitely reveals some aspects of the pre-50's man, especially as documented in the unauthorized Ron biographies and in his personal papers and letters to others from that period.

And of course Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd captures the uber-certain maverick scientist and cult leader of the early 50's all the way to the early Saint Hill era.

A couple months ago, I mentioned to a friend that parts of The Master script were lifted wholesale from The Aberree newsletter of the mid 50's. Some passages almost word for word. Well, well . . . Paul Thomas Anderson admits as much in this interview with LAWeekly last week. Guess those newsletter issues were part of his inspiration for the characters and movie.
Excerpt from interview:
One of his Web finds was The Aberree, a Scientology-themed newsletter published from 1954 to 1965 by a Phoenix couple, Alphia and Agnes, who were among Hubbard's early adopters. ("The most certain thing about Scientology is that no one can be certain what this 'Science of Certainty' will come up with next," reads the opening line of the first issue, leading off a discussion of the nascent church's efforts to legalize itself as a religion.)
"It really was the best possible way to time-travel, reading these newsletters," Anderson says, "and to kind of get a sense of not just Hubbard but the people who were really interested in the beginnings of this movement, because they were very, very hungry to treat themselves and get better, and they were open to anything. They were so incredibly optimistic."
Again, though I haven't seen the movie yet, I'm really intrigued by your comments Mimsey. Spot on, IMO.

That said, it can be argued that Paul Thomas Anderson movies are somewhat intentionally vague and leave a lot of room for the viewer to place his/her own meanings into them.
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Lisbeth Salander
Revisiting a post of mine from 2012 on ESMB
Quite a few scenes in the original first draft script of The Master that was circulating around LA a couple years ago didn’t make it into the final movie.
One of the scenes that really meant a lot to me took place outside the Master’s house in the desert in Phoenix. Bill White, the New York organization head, arrives in a car while Freddie Quell is sitting on the porch having a cigarette and the Master can be heard inside the house typing.​
Bill had showed up in Phoenix because he wanted to find out what was going on. Was he on the “outs?” Was he still in? He hadn’t heard from the office or the Master for six weeks.​
No answers to his phone calls and messages. No Journals arriving. (He was a “Founding Member” so was entitled to Journals for life.) Bill was also looking for the $800 in salary that was due him from working for The Cause in New York.​
No Journals. No money arriving.​
He had paid $800 for the "Minister's Course" which guaranteed him membership until January.​
Bill had paid $50 for his “Doctor of Divinity” certificate and was supposed to receive a medallion, a ribbon, a lapel pin, and a gold bordered copy of the book, “The Cause.”​
Bill wanted to get all the stuff due him . . . or a refund.​
During the very contentious conversation, Freddie Quell calls him a dissenter and unfaithful. Bill want to see the Master himself face to face about his beefs. Freddie won’t let him, acting as a the "front office" barrier to the Master. Bill calls him on it. Is pissed.​
Short passage from the original script:
Bill White
You know what this all is? Huh? It’s mental cruelty. That’s what it is. It’s just mental cruelty to invent all these new ideas and never follow through on it and just keep adding and subtracting and I gotta pay for this and that level and more and more . . . and Book II’s coming. All the answers . . . “if you had that, it’s no good ‘cause here’s the new thing . . . and oh no . . . you don’t need that . . . that’s old, this is new.​
"And it’s more and more and it’s all just cruel. And it’s all getting’ away from what it was at the start which made sense. This is screwed man. Screw this. And screw you."​
Bill walks back to his car. Something gets into Freddie. He follows Bill and punches him in the kidneys. Bill falls to the ground and Freddie kicks him for good measure while Bill squirms in the street. Bill drives off.​
Freddie, back on the porch, just watches him leave with little/no compassion.​

I have to say Bill’s soliloquy, if you will, is a powerful point of the story arc in the original script . . . for me. Really hit me between the eyes. It was an observation by someone from the very “early years.” Not much changed over time. It's all in the DNA it seems.
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