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Yugoslavia, 1972 (MIFF 1973)

Director: Aleksander Petrović

Aleksandar Petrovic's early films, One Day and Three, have been shown in the Melbourne Film Festival, and his I Also Knew Happy Gypsies enjoyed a commercial success in Australia. His latest film, based on Mikhail Bulgakov's novel, works on the level of fantasy, but the issues it deals with are familiar.

Just before it is due to be performed, Nicolai has his play, 'Pontius Pilate', banned by the theatrical bureaucracy in Moscow: both the unions and the critics condemn the play for its inflammatory ideas. For the Devil, in the guise of a magician named Woland, the play becomes a cause celebre and his revenge involves wreaking havoc upon those who have persecuted Nicolai. Meanwhile Nicolai has' fallen in love with the beautiful Margaret, but when he attempts to seek out the Devil, he is taken from her and imprisoned in an asylum. Woland manages to have the play staged, and, to celebrate the occasion, he shares some wine with Nicolai and Margaret. Yet all is not right ...

The film is set in the period following the Russian Revolution, and whilst ostensibly dealing with the contradictions between personal freedom and the people's rule in Russia of 1925, the story has a much wider implication.

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