The Master and Margarita
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Time Out saysAn intriguing but rather half-baked adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov's novel. The Master (Tognazzi) is a much revered writer whose new play about the life of Christ is threatened with withdrawal during rehearsals because it is considered ideologically unsound. He finds solace in Margarita (Farmer), a beautiful girl who mysteriously crosses his path, but becomes tortured to the point of insanity by conflicting hopes and fears when the sinister Professor Woland (Cuny, excellent) - the Devil, no less - uses his magical powers to ensure that rehearsals go forward, but also enlivens the première with a horrific display of illusions which drives the audience from the theatre in panic. Some pleasure is to be had from the loving recreation of Moscow in the '20s, and from the fantasy elements (though pedestrian by comparison with the novel). But despite literary allusions which dress up the narrative (evoking the tale of Faust and Marguerite, for example), the novel is still so boiled down that it emerges, anti-climactically, as just a plodding allegory about the repression of dissident artists.