Color & Sound
We were wrong when we said that the first thing you probably noticed in the trailer was the focus on Phoenix’s character, because the first thing that anyone is likely to notice watching the clip is the truly breathtaking cinematography by Mihai Malaimare. The colors pop in this thing unlike anything we’ve seen since the Technicolor era, which is perfect for the 1950s-set film. Anderson’s fans may have been concerned initially that DP Robert Elswit -- who had shot all 5 of his previous features -- would not be returning, but clearly those worries were unfounded. Though Malaimare’s work until now has primarily been shooting digitally for Francis Ford Coppola, “The Master” will reportedly utilize a mix of 65mm and 35mm film. And to be completely fair, Malaimare's work in Coppola's "Tetro" was stunning regardless of the format.
65mm is a high resolution film format used by epics like “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Lawrence of Arabia” and is the predecessor of the 70mm IMAX format (which loads horizontally like most film reels, instead of vertically like 65mm). The rumors of shooting in the large format were confirmed months ago when Anderson sent an image of the 65mm negative to Cigs & Vines to tease his fans, though we’re still not sure what the percentage split is. We’re still unsure on the aspect ratio of the picture, as the trailers have all been released in 1.85:1 while all his previous features have been in 2:35:1 but we suppose the taller format might suit the period better. Fans have already picked up on a few possible homages -- the aforementioned “Melvin And Howard,” Freddie hanging freely over the edge of the ship recalls a similar shot in Antonioni’s “The Passenger,” etc. -- but we’re sure like his previous work, this will be something all his own.
As long as we’re diving deep, Xixax, a PTA-focused message board, also pointed out that the name of the ship (glimpsed at the :45 mark in the trailer) is the Aletheia, which is a Greek word translated variously as “unclosedness,” “unconcealedness,” “disclosure” or “truth.” The literal meaning of the word is “the state of not being hidden; the state of being evident” and it also implies sincerity as well as factuality or reality. The font it's written in also appears to be the same font as the film’s title on the poster. The music at the beginning of the trailer is Jonny Greenwood employing another unsettling piece of original music while the back half of the trailer utilizes Jo Stafford’s 1950 hit “No Other Love.”
Basically, if seeing the words “Written and Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson” after all these years didn’t give you a little buzz at the end, we’re not sure what to tell you. For us, it was 2 minutes and 37 seconds of cinematic bliss and October 12th can’t come soon enough. We’re sure there will be lots more to talk about once the film starts to unspool -- there have been rumors of Venice, NYFF or an Austin bow and also rumors that it will skip the fall film festival route completely -- and we can’t wait to get into it. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.