The Master - Usage of depth and focal length

A few weeks ago I watched the movie 'The Master'. When I went through the latest projects I realised how much the director made use of the mentioned techniques throughout the movie. I'd like to talk about the way the character of the main person is established through the use of depth and the angle of the lens. The main character is a former soldier, who is mentally unstable. I noticed that there is a difference between the scenes where you can see how he interacts with his environment and how the viewer is more directed to his inner feelings and thoughts. With relation to others, he isolates himself, does things that are just wackier than what the others are doing. Most of these shots are wide angle shots, with a high f-stop that create a sense of depth in the scene and gives you a good notion of how he responds to his environment. Here are a few examples:

It's interesting to see that the first two scenes are taken from exactly the same place, but one with a fish eye and the other with a 50 mm lens. The first is the establishing shot, showing the beach and the main character, but because of the fish eye effect, the viewer already gets a bit of a strange feeling about the entire situation. In the second scene, the main character checks what it would feel like if he chopped of his hand. Here the viewer is directed to that detail, focusing more on the person and his arms being exactly on the lines of the golden triangle.

On the other hand, in the scenes where we see more of his inner state of mind, or the minds of other characters, longer focal lengths are used, putting all the focus on the eyes, or specific part of the character that is highlighted. 

The same counts for the usage of space. The angle and focal length work towards establishing a certain atmosphere, for example in this little room when the main character is talking to a totally not interested psychologist and he gives answers that are only about sex. The room seems small and totally insignificant. An other shot is of the soldiers who need treatment for their mental illness that shows the multitude of them and how they all look the same, even though they are very different.

In the final image you see the main character doing a respectable job in a department store. The shot is taken from a straight front angle, with a focal length of about 50 mm with a depth of field that is wide enough to show the entire person. With these settings, you get the feel that he is all normal again and would not believe all the weird things you have just seen in the scenes before.

In all these scenes, the camera hardly moves. It's only the composition, lighting and settings of the camera that make the atmosphere so weird and completely set the idea that we are dealing with a crazy, traumatised person. 

The entire movie was filled with these cinematic techniques that enforced the already fantastic story into one of the best movies I've ever seen.