The Master and Margaret (1973) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Master and Margaret (1973)





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This strident Yugoslavian/Italian film is a very uneven adaptation of a small portion of the famous and much-loved whimsical novel The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulghakov. It attempts to deal only with the Moscow portion of the novel. Even so, it was a brave attempt to film the unfilmable, and uses animation and other techniques to portray the more fantastic aspects of the story. In the film, which lovingly recreates the Moscow of the 1920s, the Master (Ugo Tognazzi) is a playwright. He is attending the dress rehearsal for his play, which is being performed over the objections of everyone involved, except for his girlfriend Margarita (Mimsy Farmer) and Professor Woland (Alain Cluny). He grows frantic when he discovers that the Professor is actually the Devil (the actual supernatural being, not just a very bad man). The Master tries to warn people but is committed to an insane asylum for his pains. At the play's premiere, the Professor uses his magical powers to add terrifying special effects which send the audiences screaming out of the theater. The film makes many guarded references to the persecution (past and present) of artists under communism.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By: ,
Written By: Barbara Alberti, Amedeo Pagani, Aleksandar Petrovic
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 25, 2003


Ugo Tognazzi
as Nikolai Afanasijevic...
Mimsy Farmer
as Margareta Nikolajevn...
Alain Cuny
as Woland
Ljuba Tadic
as Ponzio Pilato

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Audience Reviews for The Master and Margaret


In "The Master and Margaret," Nikolai Maksudov(Ugo Tognazzi) is rehearsing his new play about Pontius Pilate when Rimski(Tasko Nacic) voices an objection that every word in it may not be exactly gospel truth. When consulted, Woland(Alain Cuny) tells him to go ahead before disappearing in a puff of smoke. Berlioz(Fabijan Sovagovic) says that he never heard of Woland and to please stop. At least, Nikolai's personal life is going better when Margareta(Mimsy Farmer) approaches him in the street. He takes her back to his place to see his pornography collection but she takes a rain check on spending the night. Nikolai might not get a better chance because Oskar(Zlatko Madunic) informs him that he should go to Yalta for a while(considering this is 1920's Moscow, he could have come up with much worse suggestions) but in fact it is Oskar who unexpectedly ends up there.

"The Master and Margaret" is an oddly engaging fable and morality play that is deceptively close to being something special. The story is complicated by a slippery little devil whose motives are still a little unclear. What I am sure of now is how little the movie has to do with the hot button topic of religion, despite the subject of Nikolai's play, and is instead concerned with faith which is not always the same thing. For example, Nikolai is about the only character who has not lost faith in the revolution and is still fighting the power whereas all his old comrades have settled in to be like the old boss and just as corrupt, to boot. That's not to mention the movie also making a great case for freedom of speech which is as timely as ever.

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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