Speech by Julia Charlton about the Master and Margarita movie 2024

15 May 2024

Today is the 133rd anniversary of Bulgakov’s birthday, and, as you know, according to the lunar calendar the Buddha’s birthday (the 8th day of the 4th lunar month) also happens to fall upon the same day this year. Bulgakov of course did not believe in coincidences, and it is certainly fortunate that we are thus able to gather and watch a new and exciting film adaptation of Bulgakov’s masterpiece – The Master and the Margarita.

The film is a radical reinterpretation by Russian-American director and screenwriter Mikhail Lokshin, which has caused sensation and scandal, eliciting a wide range of conflicting emotions from a wide variety of audiences: from people who have never read the book to those who know every comma of Bulgakov’s most famous novel.

Contrasted with the numerous earlier film adaptations of the novel, from that by Polish director Andrzej Wajda in 1971 to the famous series directed by Vladimir Bortko in 2005, this is the most revolutionary and original reading of the novel. It aims to represent spiritual essence of the work, while not being too literally bound to the words and images of Bulgakov’s original text. This film channels its director’s intellectual and emotional reflections, his desire, through Bulgakov’s novel, to reevaluate the events of the global transformation of human civilization.

This film is not a mere visualisation or enactment of Bulgakov’s work. It must be judged as an independent, self-sufficient work of art in its own right, for which Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita provides a starting point for a new creative impulse.

Woland appears more than an antiquated literary character, he embodies a real presence of horror and fear. In this new iteration, Woland has upped the ante.

Julia Charlton