Life Imitates Art as a 'Master and Margarita' Movie Stirs Russia – The New York Times

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An American director’s adaptation of the beloved novel is resonating with moviegoers, who may recognize some similarities in its satire of authoritarian rule.

By all appearances, the movie adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s cult favorite novel “The Master and Margarita,” in Russian theaters this winter, shouldn’t be thriving in President Vladimir Putin’s wartime Russia.
The director is American. One of the stars is German. The celebrated Stalin-era satire, unpublished in its time, is partly a subversive sendup of state tyranny and censorship — forces bedeviling Russia once again today.
But the film was on its way to the box office long before Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine and imposed a level of repression on Russia unseen since Soviet times. The state had invested millions in the movie, which had already been shot. Banning a production of Russia’s most famous literary paean to artistic freedom was perhaps too big an irony for even the Kremlin to bear.
Its release — after many months of delay — has been one of the most dramatic and charged Russian film debuts in recent memory. The movie refashions the novel as a revenge tragedy about a writer’s struggle under censorship, borrowing from the story of Bulgakov’s own life. The emphasis, for many Russians, has hit close to home. And, for some defenders of Putin, too close.
“I had an internal belief that the movie would have to come out somehow,” the director, Michael Lockshin, said in a video interview from his home in California. “I still thought it was a miracle when it did come out. As for the response, it’s hard to expect a response like this.”
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