Master and Margarita (2005) is a Menippean film based on the eponymous book by Mikhail A. Bulgakov. Set in Moscow under Stalin and in Jerusalem under Pilate, it has several story-lines ... See full summary »
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Master and Margarita (2005) is a Menippean film based on the eponymous book by Mikhail A. Bulgakov. Set in Moscow under Stalin and in Jerusalem under Pilate, it has several story-lines where history, religion and politics are intertwined. The story of Master (Galibin), a talented author of a manuscript about the biblical Pontius Pilate, and Master's muse - Margarita (Kovalchuk), is paralleled by the biblical story of Ieshua in Ierushalaim, and the deceit of the cowardly ambiguous Pilate (Lavrov), whose character alludes to a Soviet leader. The reality is distorted by Satan - Woland (Basilashvili), and his lieutenants, who are manipulating public events and people's lives by pushing buttons of human weaknesses and sins. Margarita taps into Woland's power, trying to save Master. The character of Master is autobiographical, burning of his manuscript alludes to what Bulgakov himself did under threats from Soviet authorities. Written by
Many scenes were filmed in St. Petersburg, Russia, although most of the series takes place in Moscow. Director Vladimir Bortko, who lives in St. Petersburg, decided in favor of it because, in his words, "St. Petersburg today still looks more like the 1930s Moscow". See more »
I watched this mini on a DVD so my perception wasn't as fragmented as it perhaps would have been if I watched one episode a day on TV. I read 'Master and Margarita' at least ten times so I know it pretty much by heart. It came as a relief that Bortko followed the original text so closely and didn't turn it in one of Hollywood 'junk' adaptations. There's no point in getting hysterical about the fact that this film is not as good as the book it could never be. I agree with other comments here that many dialogues are 'still born' because the text was transferred from the book too literally with no dramatic adaptation, particularly when Bulgakov's 'author's' commentaries were used in the dialogues. Abdulov and Basilashvili were the best. To my mind, Basilashvili, in particular, added to my previous perception of Woland and expanded this character if that's at all possible. The main complains are Begemot all of whose personifications failed miserably and Gaft's character who was completely out of context and rather weird. Gaft already played Beria in another movie and his appearance here looked like a piece cut out from that movie and pasted into this one. However this is all minor and generally I enjoyed the film. I was only really disappointed with Bortko's interpretation of the Ball. Having followed the book so maniacally to the last letter he suddenly deviated off track and not in a good way. In Bulgakov's book the Ball is an explosion of colour, light and music with walls of flowers and rainbow fountains. Whether it was a poor budget to blame or inability to use decent special effects but Bortko created some grey depressing place in the middle of nowhere which looked rather bizarre. Bulgakov featured Margarita flying through the ball halls in shoes made of rose petals and wearing nothing except heavy pendant over her neck whereas Bortko dressed her in torture chains and pinned her to the ground. It all looked a bit sado-masochistic and I doubt Bulgakov saw it that way. I'm surprised no one here commented on it. All in all I think it's not a bad attempt, certainly for a mini. I was expecting something much worse having seem some of the rubbish produced my Russian movie makers these days. To those who say it's awful, I think you should calm down and accept that Bulgakov's book and this movie are completely separate entities and the film can't be as deep because it can't reproduce all the philosophical richness of the literary work. It could try but then it won't appeal to a wider audience which prefers easily digestible adaptations.
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