Saturday, January 05, 2013

“There's only one degree of freshness — the first, which makes it also the last” : Mikhail Bulgakov

The Devil comes to Stalinist Moscow, in the form of Professor Woland, accompanied by a retinue that includes a vodka drinking, talking cat that walks on his hind legs and a totes a Mauser.  Amongst the havoc wreaked over three days emerges a poignant love story; all this, interwoven with the philosophical, parallel plot line that allows you to eavesdrop at the meeting of Pontius Pilate and Jesus.  
It's impossible to surmise Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita succinctly.  Impossible to review without  achieving some sort of annoying evangelical tone.  So I won't (can't).  You have to read it for yourself.  I found out just the other night that this book was the inspiration for the Rolling Stone's classic 'Sympathy for the Devil'. 
What I will say, however, is that I read the '67 translation by Michael Glenny and found it to be neatly drier in humour and lighter of lyrical foot than the more modern translations but I'm certain that this is highly contentious to the Bulgakov purists.  Just me.  

And as for the Complicite stage production?  It had a visually powerful command and kept me alert for three hours, even elicited gasps at times but inevitably, a little flawed, as anyone who has read the book will already have it immutably nailed in their own imagination.

The still above is from the excellent Vladimir Bortko's Russian tv production.  Serialised on You Tube.  

* well, should anyone be paying mind, the burgundy, velvet cape stood me well, alongside a timely 20's floral silk blouse, black zara skinnies and zara asymmetric black stilettos.  I never got it together to document this and I am unlikely to do any outfit posts but then I never say never.

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