Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita has quite a bizarre history. Bulgakov spent 10 years writing it (1930-1940), and then he died, leaving his wife to finish it up. Bad news for her, though; Stalin banned the damn thing. Then, between 1967 and 1989, six versions of the book were published, the last of which is now considered “canon.”
Way back when (1980), Roman Polanski aimed to take a shot at the material, but Warners ended up shutting that project down. Now, the door is open for Stone Village Pictures (Love in the Time of Cholera, The Human Stain) to attempt the first English-language screen adaptation of the book. Scott Steindorff will produce, and there is no writer or director yet.
For those not familiar with The Master and Margarita, let me warn you that it’s, ah, fucking weird, but at the same time entertaining. It’s a satire that satires all kinds of shit while managing to still be very effective. I’m assuming that’s why people calll it a masterpiece.
I’ve been scouring the World Wide Web for a good, short plot summary (mine was becoming way too long), but it isn’t working, so here is what the Hollywood Reporter has:
“Master and Margarita begins in pre-WWII Moscow, where the devil appears as a mysterious man who insinuates himself into a literary crowd. Amid a series of deaths and disappearances, the devil brings together the title characters, a despairing novelist and his devoted but married lover. The story shifts to the setting of the master’s rejected novel, Jerusalem in the time of Pontius Pilate, and then to a supernatural world where Satanic forces have taken over Margarita’s life.” The Evil One is accompanied by a trio of demons, one of which is Behemoth, pictured here.
There is a literal cornucopia of different ways someone could approach an adaptation of this work. On the other hand, whoever ends up writing it will have to use all his or her creative faculties to do it well; it would be pretty easy to fuck it up.