CLASSIC SCENE: “Infringement! You blinked”

Film: THE MASTER
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Screenplay: Paul Thomas Anderson

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Setting the scene: Escaping from an upstairs party, FREDDIE QUELL (Joaquin Phoenix) is invited into the suite of LANCASTER DODD (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in order to sample some of Freddie’s homemade alcohol. Both men are just getting to know one another but Freddie is interested in joining “The Cause” – a cult, faith-based organisation of which Dodd is the charismatic leader (or Master). To test Freddie’s commitment, Dodd suggests that he goes through a series of questions known as ‘informal processing’.

Lancaster
How are you feeling, Freddie?

Freddie
Good.

Lancaster
Rested?

Freddie
Yes.

Lancaster
Excited?

Freddie
Yeah.

Lancaster
Have you made some friends?

Freddie
Everyone is very nice here.

Lancaster
Good. Good. How are you feeling?

Freddie
Yeah, good.

[Dodd puts a microphone on the table in front of Freddie]

Lancaster
Well, then I gather myself… and you be
my protege and guinea pig, eh?
Informal processing.

[Dodd sits down at the table across from Freddie and looks him straight in the eye]

Are you ready?

Freddie
Yes.

[He turns the tape recorder on]

Lancaster
Say your name.

Freddie
Freddie Quell.

Lancaster
Say it again.

Freddie
Freddie Quell

Lancaster
Say it again.

Freddie
Freddie Quell.

Lancaster
Say it again.

Freddie
Freddie Quell.

Lancaster
Might as well say it one more time just
to make sure you know who you are…

Freddie
Freddie Quell.

Lancaster
Are you thoughtless in your remarks?

Freddie
I usually put some thought into them.

Lancaster
Do you linger at bus stations for pleasure?

Freddie
(Laughs)
No.

Lancaster
Do you get muscle spasms for no reason?

Freddie
No

Lancaster
Do your past failures bother you?

Freddie
No.

Lancaster
Do your past failures bother you?

Freddie
No.

Lancaster
Do your past failures bother you?

Freddie
No.

Lancaster
Do your past failures in life, bother you?

Freddie
No.

Lancaster
Is your life a struggle?

Freddie
No.

Lancaster
Do you like to be told what to do?

Freddie
No.

Lancaster
Is your behaviour erratic?

Freddie
(Nodding)
No.

Lancaster
Do you find interest in other people?

Freddie
Not really.

Lancaster
Do you find it easy to be fair?

Freddie
(Thinking)
Yes.

Lancaster
Are you often consumed by envy?

Freddie
(Defensively)
No! About what?

Lancaster
Are you often consumed by envy?

Freddie
I don’t know… You mean like jealousy?

Lancaster
Like jealousy…

Freddie
Oh well, yeah, I don’t like someone else’s hands on my girls. I don’t like to think about it. It makes me sick.

Lancaster
Are you scientific in your
thought?

Freddie
(Nodding proudly)
Yes.

Lancaster
Are you concerned with the impression you make?

Freddie
I don’t understand.

Lancaster
Yes you do.

Freddie
Well, most people are ass’s, if that’s what you mean!

Lancaster
Are you usually truthful to others?

Freddie
No! I don’t know… Sometimes.

Lancaster
Are you unpredictable?

[Freddie seems to think about this question seriously then, after a long pause… he farts]

Lancaster
Silly! Silly animal.

Freddie
(Laughing hysterically)
I couldn’t help it.

Lancaster
Silly animal.

Freddie
I’m sorry.

Lancaster
(Smiling)
It’s good to laugh during
processing. Sometimes we forget. Even if it is the sound of an animal.

[They both laugh as Dodd leans forward to speak into the microphone]

Freddie Quell, Test Session. March 5th, 1950, 1800 hours. Aboard the sailing
vessel Aletheia. LD, MOC, MD logged and approved.

Should we sample another sip before we
join them upstairs?

Freddie
(Looking disappointed)
Wait! That’s it?

Lancaster
For now.

Freddie
No… No. No. No. You gotta ask me more. This is fun. C’mon you gotta ask me more.

[Dodd pauses briefly]

Lancaster
Could you answer the next series of questions without blinking your eyes?…

Freddie
Yes

Lancaster
…without fear and hesitation, answer as quickly as you can?

Freddie
Sure…

[Dodd pauses again]

Yeah!

[Dodd puts the tape recorder back on]

Lancaster
Starting now, you are not to blink.
If you blink we go back
to the start…

Infringement! You blinked.

Starting now you are not to blink.
If you blink
we go back to the start…

Do you often think about how inconsequential you are?

Freddie
No.

Lancaster
Do you believe that god will save you from your own ridiculousness?

Freddie
No.

Lancaster
Have you ever had intercourse with someone inside your family?

Freddie
Yes.

[Dodd pauses slightly]

Lancaster
Have you ever had intercourse with someone inside your family?

Freddie
Yes.

Lancaster
Who?

Freddie
My Auntie.

Lancaster
Have you ever killed anyone?

Freddie
No.

Lancaster
Maybe?

Freddie
Not me.

[Freddie still not blinking]

Lancaster
Have you ever killed anyone?

Freddie
No.

Lancaster
How many times did you have intercourse
with your aunt?

Freddie
Three times.

Lancaster
Where is your aunt now?

Freddie
I don’t know.

Lancaster
Would you like to have intercourse with her again?

Freddie
No.

Lancaster
Do you regret this?

Freddie
No.

Lancaster
Where is your mother?

Freddie
I don’t know.

[Freddie blinks]

Lancaster
Infringement!

Freddie
Fuuuck!

[Freddie slaps himself on the face three times. Opens his eyes and holds Dodd’s gaze again]

Lancaster
Back to the start.

Freddie
Okay.

Lancaster
Do you often think about how inconsequential you are?

Freddie
Yes.

Lancaster
Do you believe that God will save you?

Freddie
No.

Lancaster
Have you ever had sex with a member of
your family?

Freddie
Yes.

Lancaster
Are you lying?

Freddie
No.

Lancaster
Who?

Freddie
My Auntie Bertha.

Lancaster
Where is your aunt now?

Freddie
I don’t know, maybe home.

Lancaster
Are you lying?

Freddie
No.

Lancaster
Are you a liar?

Freddie
Yes.

Lancaster
Have you killed anyone?

Freddie
Yes.

Lancaster
Who?

Freddie
Japs in the war.

Lancaster
Do you regret this?

Freddie
No

Lancaster
What are you running from?

Freddie
Maybe hurt a man, I think. Maybe he’s dead. I don’t know.

Lancaster
Where?

Freddie
In Salinas. He stole a batch of my booze and he drank it.

Lancaster
Is this booze you make poison?

Freddie
Not if you drink it smart.

Lancaster
Are you trying to poison me?

Freddie
No.

Lancaster
Where is your father?

Freddie
Dead

Lancaster
How did he die?

Freddie
Drunk.

Lancaster
Where is your mother?

[Freddie takes a long pause]

(Gently whispering)
Where is your mother?

Freddie
Looney bin

Lancaster
Is she psychotic?

Freddie
Yes

Lancaster
What is the name of your aunt?

Freddie
Bertha.

Lancaster
How did you come to have sex with your
Auntie Bertha?

Freddie
I was drunk and she
looked good.

Lancaster
And you did it again and again?

Freddie
Yes.

Lancaster
Have you ever had bad thoughts about Master or Peggy?

Freddie
Yes.

Lancaster
What did you think?

Freddie
I thought you were fools.

Lancaster
Am I a fool to you?

Freddie
No, sir.

Lancaster
If you were locked in a room for the rest of your life, who would be in there with you?

Freddie
Doris

Lancaster
Who’s Doris?

Freddie
Best girl I ever met. The girl I am gonna
marry one day.

Lancaster
Is she in Lynn?

Freddie
Yes

Lancaster
Lynn, Massachussets?

Freddie
Yes, sir.

Lancaster
Why aren’t you with her?

Freddie
I’m an idiot.

Lancaster
Why aren’t you with that lovely girl?

Freddie
I got no reason. I’m a fool.

Lancaster
Do you love Doris?

Freddie
Yes.

Lancaster
Is she the love of your life?

Freddie
Yes, sir.

Lancaster
Then why aren’t you with her?

Freddie
I don’t know.

Lancaster
Yes you do! Tell me why your not with her if you love her so much?

Freddie
I told her I’d come back and I never went back and just… now I gotta get back to her.

Lancaster
Why don’t you go back?

Freddie
I don’t know.

Lancaster
Why don’t you go…?

Freddie
(Frustrated and shouting)
I DON’T KNOW!!!

Lancaster
Close your eyes.

(To view or read my other Classic Scenes just click here)

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38 Responses to “CLASSIC SCENE: “Infringement! You blinked””

  1. That is probably the best scene in the film. Watching Hoffman and Phoenix go back and forth was mesmerizing. For me “The Master” was a film littered with some absolutely brilliant scenes but I didn’t care for it as a collective whole. But I could watch this particular sequence over an over. A master class in acting.

    Like

    • Undoubtedly the finest scene in the film, bro, and in my eyes one of the most intense scenes in recent times. I’ve seen The Master twice now and I have to say, it just gets better and better. I think it’s a work of genius and it’s one of those films that will be appreciated more when some time has past.

      By the way, if you can spare 10mins or so check out this little analysis from You Tube. It brings the film under a deeper light

      Like

    • I agree that this is one of the best moments of the film. It definitely captured the talent of these two amazing actors.

      Like

      • Absolutely, man! Two incredible actors given a scene that they can really get into. The Master was the best film of 2012 for me and this was the years best scene too.

        Like

  2. Love it, Mark. Two masters, for sure. I loved the film but — gulp, I fell asleep before I saw the final third! 😦 This sequence you feature, however, I did see and it was awesome.

    Like

    • Two actors are the top their game, Cindy. I still can’t quite believe why Phoenix wasn’t given an Oscar for this. His transformation is remarkable.

      The film itself is one if my personal favourites. I don’t proclaim to fully understand it all yet but it a genius piece of work with great depth. You should go back and finish it.

      Like

      • Phoenix is a mysterious, fine actor –few can surpass his diving into a character — he has a knack for picking up intriguing, complex roles. So did PSH.

        Like

      • Absolutely! I’m a big fan of Phoenix. As for Hoffman, I’ll never get over that. He was one of my top five favourite actors and had been for quite some time. I’d watch him in anything and even intend on leaving up my little tribute to him on my home page until the year is over. Totally gutted. 😦

        Like

  3. A scintillating scene – I remember comparing it to Pacino-De Niro in Heat. The Master is one of those films to watch again and again, there’s so much going on. Ach, such a shame we’ll never get to see Philip Seymour Hoffman captivate through new material. At least we have moments like this to eternally admire.

    Adam.

    Like

    • An outstanding scene, Adam. One of my personal favourites. The intensity is almost unbearable as I found myself squirming along with Phoenix.

      RIP Hoffman! Such a genuine talent. I reckon he could be seen as this generations DeNiro. I really do (always did) regard him as high as that.

      Like

  4. theipc Says:

    Very nice, Mucker!

    Like

  5. This is probably my favourite scene from the whole film. I couldn’t entirely fall in love with this movie but I can’t deny the performances from Hoffman and Phoenix, especially in this scene, are top notch.

    Like

    • I absolutely loved the film, Natalie, but at the very least we agree on this scene. It the highlight of the whole thing. Hoffman and Phoenix are simply outsmarting.

      Like

  6. I didn’t like the movie as a whole but that was such an unbelievably intense scene. Great acting from both Phoenix and Hoffman.

    Like

    • I’m actually surprised how many people thought the film didn’t work overall, Sati. It does seem that we’re all on the same page with this scene, though.

      Like

      • I appreciated the effort behind the movie, but for me it would be far more interesting if they focused on Dodd’s marriage to Peggy. The whole movie seemed a bit messy, as if they couldn’t figure out whose story they wanted to show.

        Like

      • I remember reading your review, Sati and I remember that being an interesting take on it from yourself. I, however, think it’s a near masterpiece and almost perfect the way it is.

        I left a little you tube clip in the above comments that I think everyone should watch. It’s fantastic how Anderson has assembled it from the Id and the ego and how Peggy is the super ego. It makes complete sense when viewed from that psychological angle.

        Like

  7. What a wonderful scene. Shame Hoffman is gone from our lives. Truly is.

    Like

    • Hoffman’s absence will be a real blow to the art form, Dan. There’s no mistaking that. Added to which, it seemed that he had found a perfect partnership in Paul Thomas Anderson. They could have went down in history as one of the great ones.

      Like

  8. Definitely agree with Keith up there. Not the biggest fan of the film as a whole, but there were some great scenes, especially this one.

    Like

    • Personally I loved the movie, Fernando, but I can see that not everyone would embrace it as I have. Still, there’s no denying the quality of this scene. Thanks buddy!

      Like

  9. Love these classic scenes Mark. I haven’t seen There Master though but its on my list

    Like

    • Cheers Mikey. If you haven’t seen this film you should get it to the top of your list. I loved it but there are many who don’t quite share my enthusiasm for it. It’s one of those films that seems to have split audiences.

      Like

  10. Great choice Mark.

    Like

  11. Such a good scene I love this movie! I always love your movie choices.

    Like

  12. Best scene in the film. By far.

    Like

    • No doubt about it, man. Very, very strong scene. Anderson is in complete control and Hoffman and Phoenix really deliver the goods.

      Like

      • They sure do. Of those names, actually, it is hard to pin point which is the best. All are so good.

        Like

      • A perfect match and collaboration. It’s actually one of my favourite films but it’s still difficult to pick Anderson’s best. Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood are also very high in my estimation.

        Like

      • I haven’t seen There Will Be Blood, actually. But I think I like Boogie Nights most. Followed, oddly, by Punch Drunk Love.

        Like

      • I liked Punch Drunk but I wasn’t fully prepared for Anderson’s change of tone and as a result it didn’t really impact me the same way it did others. Magnolia is also a strong piece of work. That can’t be overlooked either but you really should see There Will Be Blood as soon as you can.

        Like

      • I plan to. Soon-ish, anyway. Now that baseball season has started, my movie viewing has gone way down. I’ve been sitting on Lolita for some three or four weeks, I think.

        Like

      • I know how that goes, man. I’ve still been watching but struggling to write as much. Sometimes breaks are required.

        Like

  13. You know how much I love The Master and this scene is the best in the movie and arguably PTA’s finest. Excellent post.

    Like

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