Originally Posted by ROCSteady
Very thorough review, covered all the aspects of the film intelligently, especially liked the parts detailing the cinematography and the use of light to convey character and likening parts to the Godfather, although I don't think Malaimare took it to the extreme of Gordon 'the prince of darkness' Willis with regards to keeping the characters in shadows.
One part I didn't really agree with was this:
Master explains that if Quells isn’t all in to support them that he never wants to see him again, although it is evident that he cares very much for Freddie, serenading him with a song heard earlier regarding Doris. It is at this piint that I’m calling Lancaster ‘Master’ Dodd’s sexuality into question. It would explain his commitment to Freddie ddespite the distrust his wife and family had all along. Was he in love with Freddie Quells or did he just fervently believe in the cause? I tend to lean more towards the former, Anderson showing us the corrupt nature of the human condition and those with a major platform. Just like Freddie Quells, I believe Lancaster Dodd to be a sexual deviant, at least bi-sexual at that.
What I took away from the 'slow boat to China' serenade wasn't that Dodd was expressing his affection for Freddy, it was the opposite. The slow boat to China is what took him away from Doris, away from any hope he had for a real life. It came after he let Freddy know that if they ever came in contact with one another, they would be sworn enemies... this was Dodd sticking the knife in Freddy and slowly twisting the handle.
And whereas I think Dodd had a very real affinity for Quell, nothing about it came off as stemming from a repressed sexuality. It was as the title and premise suggested- a master and servant relationship, an owner and his dog. Dodd even repeatedly said things like 'good boy' in regards to Freddy, he was just an animal in his eyes. But the reason he was so drawn to him was because Freddy seemed so very familiar to him- because he was the younger version of Dodd himself, the part of himself he buried with his pretentious charlatan snake oil salesman persona. The ****** in his armor show themselves when he is in Quell's presence- he can drink cup for cup with the raging alcoholic. Dodd wants to prove that he can lasso the dragon (reference to 'chasing the dragon' maybe?), and civilize the 'animal', because that means he can conquer that within himself. That's why Dodd is convinced they've met before and why Freddy seems so familiar to him- he sees himself in Freddy. His wife notices that Quell's presence brings out the less than desirable aspects of his personality that Dodd has tried so hard to suppress. That's why she views him as so much of a threat to the Cause- because she knows that Dodd is drawn to Quell like a moth to a flame and that instead of Dodd lassoing the dragon within Freddy, their interaction may unleash the animal within Dodd himself.
Speaking of sexual deviancy, what did you make of Quell's view of Peggy and Doris? He was very vulgar and seemed to be obsessed with sex yet when he finds out Doris is so young, he only allows her to kiss him on the cheek and their relationship seems almost chaste, very innocent. When Peggy is doing her processing with him and she brings up some sexual content, he seems very uncomfortable and seems almost offended that she would use that sort of language in his presence. Do you think it's a sort of Madonna-Whore complex? It goes back to the sand figure he crafted I think. He takes the time to carefully construct a female figure, he's very crude with it in one instance but later (especially the end shot), you seem him being very tender, almost loving with it.
Also, what did you think about Quell's possible hallucinations? The scene in Philadelphia when Dodd is leading the song and dance ritual and then all of a sudden, all of the women appear naked- did you think that actually happened? It seemed too surreal to me and it seemed to be clearly from Quell's viewpoint (as is most of the film, though not as directly as this portion). Also, the movie theater scene had the same vibe to it, Quell even later says that he had a dream that Dodd finally told him where they met when he's asked why he came to the school in England.
I'm sure I'll have a lot more to talk about once I get the chance to catch it again.