Will Americans Ever Be Allowed To See The New Film Of THE MASTER AND MARGARITA?
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From the New York Times news section:

Life Imitates Art as a ‘Master and Margarita’ Movie Stirs Russia

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 Paul Sonne
Feb. 16, 2024

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.

Stalin was a huge fan of one of Bulgakov’s plays, so he didn’t have him shot. But he wouldn’t let him publish new work either. The writer, a brave man, wrote to the tyrant to complain that he was going to starve. So Stalin, a more complicated figure than in Trotskyite legend, gave Bulgakov a job as a theatrical director, while Bulgakov wrote The Master and Margarita in secret.

It wasn’t published until the 1960s. Mick Jagger read a translation and incorporated it into “Sympathy for the Devil.”

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 The celebrated Stalin-era satire, unpublished in its time, is partly a subversive sendup of state tyranny and censorship — forces bedeviling Russia once again today.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….

More than 3.7 million people have flocked to see the film in Russian theaters since its Jan. 25 premiere, according to Russia’s national film fund.

… State networks didn’t promote the movie the way they normally would for a government-funded picture. And the state film fund, under pressure after the release, removed the movie’s production company from its list of preferred vendors.

The antics spurred a new wave of moviegoers, who rushed to theaters fearing the film was about to be banned. …

[Director Michael] Lockshin, who grew up both in the United States and Russia but is an American citizen, signed on to the project in 2019, choosing a Quentin Tarantino-style revenge plot as a frame for the adaptation before the war revived severe censorship in Russia.

When Putin launched his invasion two years ago, Lockshin opposed the war on social media from the United States and called on his friends to support Ukraine. Back in Russia, that put the movie’s release at risk.

“My position was that I wouldn’t censor myself in any way for the movie,” he said. “The movie itself is about censorship.”

Universal Pictures, which had signed on to distribute the film, pulled out of Russia after the war began and exited the project. (The movie currently has no distributor in the United States.)

They don’t quite get the irony, do they?

[Comment at Unz.com]

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