Case Closed: Paul Thomas Anderson's Script for The Master is Nothing But Scientology UPDATE: The New Trailer!
Former Scientologist Marc Headley, who first revealed to the Voice in 2009 that Tom Cruise talked to ashtrays and beverage bottles as part of his Scientology training, has a stunning article in the Daily Beast today that settles, once and for all, what Paul Thomas Anderson's film The Master is all about.
As Headley proves conclusively, it's about Scientology, from beginning to end.
Headley grew up in Scientology, and in 2005 escaped from its secretive International Base east of Los Angeles. His 2009 book, Blown For Good, was one of the first to blow the lid off the culture of violence at the base and the culture of intimidation and interrogation perpetuated by church leader David Miscavige...
Who better to investigate this whole Master debate than a former Scientologist? I received Scientology counseling from Tom Cruise himself. I've already had private investigators follow me and dig through my garbage--what else could they do?
The Daily Beast acquired for Headley a copy of Anderson's script for the movie due to be released in October (we've already had a couple of sneak peeks at the film), and Headley was able to compare its entire screenplay against what he knows of Scientology's history.
(He admits, of course, that the film could be substantially different from the script he was given. But one of the scenes in the script, he says, was preserved in the second teaser trailer that we've seen.)
Headley goes down 22 major comparison points between the script and actual Scientology history. You should go to the Daily Beast to read that comparison, but we'll pull out just a few to show you how close the comparison is.
Hubbard, Headley writes, "Claimed to have written the book The Dark Sword, Excalibur before Dianetics -- after suffering crippling injuries during World War II. Excalibur was said to contain revolutionary and explosive information on the mind so powerful that Hubbard chose not to publish it. The manuscript is reportedly lost and never found."
Headley finds in the script, "Lancaster Dodd" (the Hubbard character played by Philip Seymour Hoffman), "writes the book The Dark Shadow, Split Saber before writing The Cause -- after suffering serious injuries during World War II. Split Saber contains revolutionary and explosive information on the mind and is so powerful, out of the eight men who read it, four die and the other four disappear. Dodd never publishes it, but a single copy is said to be hidden in a secret location only Dodd is aware of."
(This is particularly delicious for those of us who study Hubbard's history -- in fact, Hubbard told anyone who would listen in the late '40s that his "Excalibur" manuscript was so potent it would either drive readers insane or kill them. Of course, it's never surfaced, and you would be forgiven if you suspected he never wrote a word of it.)
Headley says that Hubbard "owned and operated a former cattle trawler named the Apollo, where the Scientology group, the Sea Org, operates and manages Scientology operations." While the script has Dodd sail "a former cattle trawler called the Aletheia, which he operates his spiritual group The Cause from."
And we'll choose just one more. In real life, Headley reminds us, "According to Hubbard, the solar system has been occupied repeatedly -- and sometimes concurrently -- by multiple invader forces. They were discussed in detail in a 1952 lecture, "The Role of Earth," in which Hubbard described the conflict between the Fourth Invader Force (already occupying the solar system) and the Fifth Invader Force."
And in the script: "While Dodd continues to interrogate the stowaway, he asks him if he 'is a member of the Ninth Battle Battalion or any other invader force, space stations or communication depots on this planet or anywhere else'."
Isn't that precious?
Wow, I can't believe how badly I want to see this film!
What Katie is saving Suri from: Scientology interrogation of kids
Scientology's new defections: Hubbard's granddaughter and Miscavige's dad
Scientology's disgrace: our open letter to Tom Cruise
Scientology crumbling: An entire mission defects as a group
Scientology leader David Miscavige's vanished wife: Where's Shelly?
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Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can reach him by e-mail at email@example.com, and if you ask nicely he'll put you on his mailing list for notifications of new stories. You can also catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, a Tumblr, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.
New readers might want to check out our primer, "What is Scientology?" Another good overview is our series from last summer, "Top 25 People Crippling Scientology." At the top of every story, you'll see the "Scientology" category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories.
As for hot subjects we've covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and was sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology's "Mecca," whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.
Other stories have looked at Scientology's policy of "disconnection" that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We've also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there's plenty more coming.