The master, a writer who becomes mentally ill when his novel about Pontius Pilate is met with public derision, and Margarita, the beautiful woman who falls in love with him, are but a small part of this classic novel. Bulgakov’s story cross-cuts back and forth between Satan and his retinue unleashing hellish chaos on 1930s Moscow, and Pontius Pilate and Yeshua (Jesus) Ha-Nazori (of Nazareth), fatefully interacting in Biblical Jerusalem.
The sacred and profane, the tragic and comic, are all present in this teeming montage. Behemoth, a big, black cat who talks, walks upright and eats with a fork, is absurdly amusing. Bulgakov’s uncannily detailed recounting of Jesus’s crucifixion? Not so much.