Monday, 7 September 2009

The Master and Margarita

Over the last few weeks I have been watching the dramatisation of one of my favourite novels, the Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov. This is a series of ten episodes on Youtube with English subtitles that was produced by Russian television 4 years ago. It is a very faithful adaptation of Bulgakov's masterpiece Here is the beginning of the first episode:

The story is set in Stalin's Russia during the purges and mass arrests of the 1930's with three concurring tales that eventually come together that brilliantly satirise Soviet society and totalitarianism. If you have an interest in either Stalin's rule, gnosis or Russian culture and literature this is highly recommended.

The first is the visit of the devil and his angels in the guise of Professor Woland and his retinue to Moscow's literary elite where they cause mayhem and confusion, and confound the omnipresent secret police. The second is the tale of an author marginalised by the literary establishment who writes a Gnostic interpretation of the passion, of Pontius Pilate and of Matthew Levi. The third is the tale of the heroine Margarita who becomes a witch to save the author whom she loves.

Many myths, legends and omens have arisen about around the novel. Those connected with it have often come to a bad end, and previous attempts to film it have thwarted by circumstances half way through. Many Russian Christians regard it as diabolism and Satanist propaganda. I have just completed watching all the episode on Youtube, and after the final one, my computer keyboard went completely haywire, to the point I thought the machine had given up the ghost. Perhaps there is some truth in these superstitions: watch the series at your peril!

1 comment:

berenike said...

I watched the first and last episodes recently - a friend brought them round to my grandmother's. I thought they were very well done, very true to the book while being good telly.