Master i Margarita - Aleksandr Dzekun
After having finished his studies at the Theatre school in Dnepropetrovsk (Ukraine) in 1966, Aleksander Dzekun (°1945) tried to enroll at the director's course of the Karpenko-Kary State University for Theatre, Film and Television in Kiev, but his application was rejected and he was sent to the Regional Philharmonic Orchestra in Kirovograd, which enabled him to travel across Ukraine.
In 1974, Dzekun graduated at the Institute for Theatre, Music and Film in Leningrad and started to work for the Academic Drama Theatre Karl Marx in Saratov, where he became director in 1982. From 1991 to 1997 he was also Artistic director of the theatre. Dzekun directed more than 50 plays, many of which were written by Mikhail Bulgakov, like Zoya's apartement, The Crimson Island and The White Guard.
In 1986 he directed an adaptation of The Master and Margarita, a play for which the spectators had to reserve two evenings, since it was too long to be shown in one go.
In 1989, Dzekun adaptated his play for television. As suggested by the subtitle - Chapters from the novel - the film doesn't cover the entire novel. Only 21 chapters of it were adaptad in a film of 190 minutes.
It's 190 long minutes, frankly speaking. For this film is not a film. It's a video recording of a long theatre play. Using close-ups and adding a soundtrack are insufficient tools to turn a theatre play into a genuine film. Moreover, those tools unveil some details which are unnoticed in the theatre. Such as the fact that actress Valentina Fedotova was surely a bit too old in 1989 to represent a credible Margarita.
But the main flaw of this film is perhaps that the specific expressive power of the medium film has not been used, while the specific expressive power of the medium theatre is lost. This film is neither one nor the other. No movie but no theatre either. The static camera positions never allow the representation to break away from the original theatre version. But a theater play needs direct contact with the public to come alive. A contact, which is inexistent on screen, and that's why I think this film is a missed opportunity.