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Opinion on “Master i Margarita” (2023)

Part of that force which would do ever evil, and does ever good

Mikhail Bulgakov

The new film adaptation of The Master and Margarita was disappointing. The point is not even that the creators indulged in free interpretations, making a far from accurate adaptation. Their methods are puzzling.

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The main complaint is – why was it necessary to double the lines of the Master and Margarita? It would be nice if we were presented with the true life of Bulgakov, who writes the novel we know, while simultaneously undergoing complex creative and personal conflicts, which, by the way, was more than enough, but no. We came up with another writer-Master, who meets with another Margarita, ends up in a mental hospital and also writes a novel. True, it’s not only about Ga-Notsri, but also about a certain futuristic Moscow with the Palace of the Soviets in the clouds – that is, this novel, although called “The Master and Margarita”, is not a novel by Bulgakov, but is again a fiction of the film’s authors. And then it doubles.

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How did the film actually turn out? The scenes in which the authors properly screen Bulgakov’s novel: a conversation with patriarchy, an appearance on stage, Satan’s ball, etc., are made somewhat pretentiously, but definitely interesting, unfortunately, to a lesser extent. But I would even say that they are the result of the author’s own activities. The smashing of the plays about Pilate, the musical about 2022 and the drunken parties in Meigel’s apartment are rather boring, sluggish, drawn-out and almost unmemorable. This is not surprising, because only a genius can compete with the genius of Bulgakov! In addition, the new masters naturally stole most of the old Bulgakov image. Why was this doubling done?

This is an important reason why the film is not a “fantasy based”, but simply a bad film. The creators have given us a banal and misguided understanding of the nature of artistic creativity. In their opinion, the writer creates by literally erasing reality, peering into what is happening and meeting future characters (and mainly himself). Thus, the writer, like a diligent accountant, enters into the balance of the novel, with the real fictions of his mistress Margarita, the foreigner Volan, his fellow writers, and their real fictions.

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On the other hand, the artist is not a photographer, and his work is not the reproduction of reality, but the creation of a new, qualitatively different reality. And the otherness lies not in the fact that the artist can tolerate the imaginary and the supernatural, but in the fact that he rises above the current situation, which is always a subject of discussion, before timeless philosophical generalizations, which may largely not correspond to physical reality. It is in this sense that Bulgakov’s master wrote his novel from such a premature figure for communist Moscow as Jesus Christ. It is at least not clear why The screenwriter of the film wrote the play “Pilate” and added its dialogue to the novel. It is not surprising that the filmmakers, driven by the need to complete the two parallel lines from “The Master and Margarita”, did not find any other way out than to trivialize and introduce the replicas of the double against the backdrop of Bulgakov’s last lines! In their opinion, the writer and his muse continue to live on the pages of the enduring novel! The novel “The Master and Margarita” is not just a love story in the devilish Moscow landscape, as the authors of the film tried to show us. That is why Bulgakov’s novel ends with the supreme trial of all the main characters, which does not at all mean their collapse.

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