This year Russian book lovers will be marking the 120th birthday Mikhail Bilgakov of the Master and Margarita fame, a Gogolesque fantasy touted by many as one of the best novels of the 20th century. Just weeks before that, a screen version of this timeless literary masterpiece will hit the screens a whole 17 years after it was actually made!
A journalist, playwright, novelist, and short story writer and a certified medical doctor too, Mikhail Bulgakov is best known for his major work - the Master and Margarita, a fantasy about the Devil, disguised as a professor, who causes havoc in the city – a story that is as mystical as it is philosophical and awash with satire. Long banned by the Soviet authorities, the novel finally came out in a censored form in 1966 – 25 years after its author’s death… It has since been staged and filmed in Poland, Italy, Britain, Hungary, Israel, Germany, Canada, the United States and, of course, here in Russia. One of the first such attempts was made in 1994 by prominent Russian director Yuri Kara. It seems that the book’s mystique overshadowed Kara’s work though, because the director had for a whole 17 years been struggling for the right to release his film with someone who claimed to be the lawful inheritor of Mikhail Bulgakov who, incidentally, never had a child…
" Mikhail Bulgakov never lived to see his book published, but it is just about as relevant as it was back in 1940, Yuri Kara said in a recent interview with the Voice of Russia. It’s a pity my film did not come out when it was supposed to. It was shown at the Cannes film festival, Miramax wanted to buy it and people here in Russia have since been waiting to see it.I still think that it has lost none of its original urgency and maybe we will finally live to see it on screen."
Unfortunately, some of the actors who appear in Kara’s version never lived to see its premiere. Neither did Alfred Schnittke who wrote the music for this film. The film the movie was shot on itself seems to have lost some of its original luster and experts are now re-mastering the 17-year-old celluloid.
"We just can’t wait to see it coming out, Yuri Kara continues. The fact that Master and Margarita is considered as one of the best novels of the 20th century and that it is still alive and well inspires hope that our movie will enjoy a long and happy screen life".
Voice of Russia