The film “The Master and Margarita”, a hymn to freedom, triumphs in Moscow

The film adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s iconic book The Master and Margaret, one of Russia’s favorite classics performed and repeated in theaters, is a huge box office hit in Russia. But this success on the big screen is the victim of a controversy created and maintained by figures close to power.

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From our correspondent in Moscow,

Despite the strong recovery of the cultural sector since the war, the directors of theaters or museums fired or exiled, the blacklists of musicians and singers, one film has gone unnoticed. This is a rereading of this immense and beloved classic in Russia, The Master and Margaret. This film is one of the most expensive in the history of Russian cinema. Before the war, it was partly financed by funds from the Ministry of Culture.

What poses a problem for the ultra-legitimists is the personality of the director: Mikhail Lokshin today lives in the United States and, as the newspaper very politely writes, Kommersant « suspected of sympathizing with Ukraine In any case, just after the film’s premiere in Russia, screenshots of what appeared to come from the director’s Facebook page appeared on social media, texts condemning the war and claiming financial support for the directors. Ukrainians.

The public flocked to the cinema

Neither that nor the controversy fueled by propagandists on television or social networks deterred those who wanted to see the film in the cinema. The film is described as “ satanists », « anti-soviet », « anti-russian “. Some even go so far as to argue that we should return to the old prior censorship before any broadcast. In any case, despite or perhaps also thanks to this campaign, the film is a success.

Released ten days ago, it garnered more than 400,000 viewers this weekend. The film in second place barely exceeds 100,000 viewers. And there is still a lot of room to achieve record income: this weekend in Moscow you had to book several days in advance to be able to buy a ticket.

The Master and Margaret, an ode to resistance

The newspaper Kommersant speaks of a “modern and progressive” version of the cult work. An independent media outlet, exiled and classified as a “foreign agent,” sees it as a clear criticism of an authoritarian power: “ What is this story really about? the journalist writes “ Of a successful author who writes a play that is later banned, of an author excluded from the writers’ union and deprived of his income. He is being tried for exactly the same thing his character is sentenced to death for in the book: for the phrase “all power is violence against ordinary people.” ».

And the film critic adds “ This is too dangerous a thought; It is not advisable to say it out loud, neither under Stalin nor today. Banned for decades, Bulgakov’s book, a hymn to freedom, did not appear in an uncensored version in the USSR until 1973.

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