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The Master – Was There a Fight?

WRITER Philip Watts

I’ve always admired the motion picture trailer for its ability to excite and intrigue, which is why I’ve been known to see various appalling films just to witness a particular gem that’s scheduled to play beforehand. When done especially well – where a tone is set rather than an attempt made to summarize the entire plot – a trailer can often act as a work of art in its own right: a self-contained and interesting short film, worth several repeat viewings. This is naturally a rare achievement, with only a few truly great examples in existence. One of these is undoubtably the first teaser for Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2012 film The Master. Entitled Was There a Fight?, it ticks every one of my trailer nerd boxes, and if I could make one suggestion it’s that if you haven’t seen the film then try and refrain from doing so, and instead watch the teaser first, free of any preconceptions and expectations. For me, this is as perfect a trailer as I can remember seeing, and raises questions as to whether the additional and expanded versions that were released subsequently improved upon or reduced its impact. As for the film itself – well, that’s missing the point entirely.

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