Margarita s Mirrors

Our first glimpse of Margarita, the movie's main protagonist, is in fact of her likeness on a small calendar card; she is wearing quite an exotic getup. The calendar is in the hands of a man aged about 35. He is studying it while sitting at a desk in a kind of workroom whose walls are hung with the pictures of Nikolai Berdyaev and Leonardo da Vinci. All around are various sketches and scaled-down models of stage props. On the desk, littered with photographs of women, there is a model of a fabulous boat with a gilded canopy. One can guess that we are in a director's workroom.
The phone rings. The director picks it up.
"Yes, I think it's worth trying.... You say she doesn't know how to act? All the more so, it's worth trying.... All right, tonight at seven. I'll book a table. See you then."
* * *
We see Margarita in person surrounded by mirrors in the dressing room of a photo studio at a modeling establishment. For the umpteenth time, she is posing before the photographer, wearing incredibly picturesque clothes, playing with her rich wavy hair and smiling a sensuous smile. Here, in the photo studio, she is being watched by the alert boss of the establishment -- the chief designer, a fattish man of 50-odd years, with a cunning look and complacent chin. (Let us nickname him Sugar Daddy.)
The photograpers leave, and Sugar Daddy drives Margarita in his Volvo sedan to a small restaurant called The Atrium where the director is waiting for them. After brief introductions and a few compliments to flatter the creative imagination of Sugar Daddy and his fellow designers, the director focuses all his attention on Margarita. Sugar Daddy is driving, so he refuses all drinks and, after a while, bids his companions goodbye, saying his wife is unwell. The director sees the designer to the door of the restaurant and thanks him warmly for bringing Margarita along.
"Don't be in any hurry thanking me, my friend. You'll lose anyway," says Sugar Daddy with noticeable irony and drives off.
By themselves, the director and Margarita are chatting and exchanging childhood recollections and impressions. Margarita tells the director that when she was a kid, her family lived down South, by the sea, and that the sunset was  what really enchanted her:
"When the sun disappeared beyond the horizon, I sat on the shore until it got completely dark, in the secret hope that the sun would rise back again. I was always afraid of the dark, of nighttime and of bats.... Once, during a holiday fireworks, a bat flew into our room. I was so scared I fainted, and Mother had to use spirits of ammonia to bring me to." (We see fragments of these recollections on the screen; they resemble a dream.)
The director, tipsy by now, is building castles in the air for Margarita, promising to make her a movie star and to take her to the seaside. After leaving the restaurant and getting romantically soaked in the rain (it is the fall), the director walks her home. Margarita invites him in, to get warm and to dry his clothes.
They spend the night together.
In bed, Margarita tells the director her life story. Her mother contracted a lethal disease and died when Margarita was 13. They were living in Moscow at the time. Her father, a disillusioned poet, a failure, a nervous wreck and a drunk, did a terrible thing a week after his wife's death: in a drunken daze, he tried to rape his 13-year-old daughter. Regaining his wits just in time, he ran away and disappeared for a full year. (We can see the closing stages of this scene on the screen. A pair of round glasses are the father's distinguishing feature. They resemble a pince-nez and make him look a bit like Stalin's henchman Lavrenty Beria.) Margarita stayed at her classmate's place, where the girl's parents looked after her. A year later, her father surfaced in a mental hospital. Margarita visited him often. Having lost his mind, he had no recollections of his criminal attempt. He kept kissing his daughter's hands, cried and talked about Margarita's mother, his late wife. Each time she visited him in the hospital, Margarita brought him a photo of her mother as a young girl, hiding it from the doctors.
Margarita says her father's hospital physician, a man with the eyes of a sorcerer, purposeful stride and incredibly long, viselike fingers (we can see him on the screen), always frightened her, although he was invariably polite and even nice to her. The impression she kept getting was that her father was the man's victim. Later, after her father's death, she learned from Sugar Daddy, who had been a friend of the family, that her father had been a regular outpatient long before her mother's death. (Margarita also says that Mother wanted to christen her Sophia, in honor of her grandmother, Countess Kudasheva-Trubetskaya, but Father for some reason insisted on naming the child Margarita. Still, when Father was not listening, Mother sometimes called her Sophia.) Still mentally unbalanced four years later, Margarita's father died in her arms at home, after being discharged from the hospital shortly before that. At the funeral, the father's hospital physician was present. Margarita remembers him ogling her in the cemetery. He also placed her father's glasses in the coffin. (We can see fragments of these scenes on the screen.)
* * *
After spending the night with the director, Margarita follows him to the film studio. Tests are being prepared. In the vast and deserted film studio, the director tells Margarita about his ambitious plan -- using motion picture techniques to assert the mystical doctrine of the Androgyne. The idea is to return man and woman to their inseparable source  -- the boy-girl Androgyne, the primal Adam God created in His image.
Pacing the dimly lit studio, the director says:
"What is born of life has death in it, too. Only a mortal can bear offspring, and only one who has been born dies. The mystic link between birth and death is revealed in the depths of coition. Deadly anguish is concealed in sexual intercourse. The sex drive torments the human being with the unattainable longing for union. This urge is truly perpetual, and union cannot be attained in by virtue of our world's nature. Still, the sex drive can be overcome, it is only sex that cannot be defeated! The sex drive represents our creative energy. There is an excruciating excess of energy in it. The chain of births binds this creative energy. There you have the biggest obstacle to the advent of a global era of creative effort. This advent must take place within sex itself. Sex as the source of birth will be transformed into a source of creative effort."
Margarita is listening to the director in a somewhat surprised manner, even smiling fleetingly.
"Then creative ecstasy will extinguish human nature's demonic evil! The Devil is incapable of creation, whatever is of the Devil cannot be creative. The Devil lies when he claims he can be creative. He steals what God creates and turns it into a caricature. The creative artist may be demonic, and this demonic nature may be reflected in what he produces. Suffice it to recall Leonardo. But Leonardo's demonic nature burned out in the creative process; it was transformed into something else, into that which was free of the world's evil...."
The director's monologue is suddenly interrupted by a roaring and clattering noise. A huge gate swings open, and, in a cloud of dust, the framework of a future film set rolls majestically into the studio. The director explains:
"This is the set of the closing sequences. It'll be the Garden of Eden. This is where the Great Mystery of Reunion will take place.
"But I still don't know how to arrive at it," he confesses to Margarita in a low voice. "After all, I can't  show the entire history of the human race since the day of Creation. I feel I need a star, an actress capable of transforming herself and leading the viewers.... You must help me...."
During the tests, amid the usual film studio confusion, a strange person named Serge pops up near Margarita. He is a young poet, of an obviously occultist type, and he looks somewhat like Margarita's late father, particularly because he is wearing round glasses. In an otherworldly voice, he recites mysterious verses about Margarita -- these, he says, were written by someone else "elsewhen." He reads her palm, says he knows the day, hour and minute of her birth and promises to cast her horoscope and send it to her, adding that he also knows her address and phone number.
Puzzled, Margarita sneaks out of the studio without saying goodbye to the director. On her way home, she has her first vision: she thinks she sees her father everywhere -- behind a tree, in a telephone booth, in a passing car, in a puddle, in the window of a house she has never seen before.
* * *
The following day Margarita goes to the cemetery to visit her parents' graves. There, she gets the feeling that the poet is stalking her. She enters the cemetery's small church, lights candles before the icon of the Virgin Mary, tries to pray, but then, suddenly uneasy, leaves.
* * *
She is back in the photo studio of the fashion house. Again, there are mirrors, makeup, fantastic dresses and soft lights. Again, Sugar Daddy is around. He wants to know how Margarita is faring in the movies and what the director has said. Margarita's replies are evasive. Sugar Daddy asserts his power: when the modeling session is over, he drives Margarita to his summer cottage and makes her go to bed  with him. After that, he pays her, allegedly for the modeling session.
Margarita waits until Sugar Daddy is fast asleep and, late at night, leaves the cottage and takes a suburban train to the city. A vision visits her again: she recalls her father's attempt to rape her. Again, she imagines she sees him on the train and at the station. Margarita jumps off the train and runs home, stumbling and stepping into puddles in the dark. Near the entrance, she thinks she again sees a pair of round glasses, worn either by her father or by the poet.
At home, she sees an envelope with the picture of a bat lying by the door. She opens the envelope. It is a letter from Serge the poet. Her horoscope is couched in vague terms; besides, the poet claims that their destinies are inseparable, that he and she are an integral whole, and that he cannot live without her....
Margarita takes a sleeping pill and, when she begins to feel drowsy, the phone rings. After a long silence, the poet, in a sepulchral voice, recites the poem she has just read in the letter. Then he wishes her pleasant dreams and hangs up. Margarita gets up and starts rummaging feverishly in a bookcase. Finally, she finds what she wants -- her family album. Looking at her parents' wedding photograph, she realizes with horror that the occultist poet looks a lot like her father.
* * *
In the morning, Margarita goes to the mental hospital, to the doctor who treated her father six years ago. At first frightened by the psychiatrist's stare, but then crushed by his will, she tells him about her persistent visions and fears, about the poet and about the extraordinary resemblance between him and her father. To  this, the psychiatrist replies:
"Are you sure he really exists?"
Completely at a loss, she hurriedly leaves the hospital and uses a pay phone to call the director's studio, but she is told the director is away. Desperate, Margarita flags down a gypsy cab, but she does not know where she wants to go. The driver, a laughing and joking type, invites her to have a good time with him. Margarita nods her acceptance. They go to some cheap joint where he plies Margarita with liquor until she gets completely drunk. After that they go to a forest where Margarita has sex with the driver in the car. Apparently a decent man, he does not abandon her there but drives her back to the city. While they are on their way, Margarita unexpectedly asks him to stop the car and, in a drunken voice, repeats as if by rote:
"The mystic link between birth and death is revealed in the depths of coition... See?"
"See what?"
"What is born of life has death in it, too.... Deadly anguish is concealed in sexual intercourse...."
"What are you raving about?"
"How dumb you are. Here's a keepsake," says Margarita, climbs out of the car, drops a calendar with her picture on the seat, slams the door shut and adds:
"Off her rocker," says the man and drives off.
* * *
Margarita gets home after midnight. Still tipsy, she does not know what to do. She walks aimlessly around her apartment, peers at her posters and photos, looks in the mirror from time to time, turns the light on and off and giggles meaninglessly. The phone rings. It is the occultist poet. He tells Margarita a letter is waiting for her by the door, then wishes her good night and hangs up. She looks out the window, but cannot make out anything in the dark. By the door, there is indeed a letter. Margarita's hands are shaking as she opens the envelope, again with the picture of a bat on it. In the envelope, she finds a photo of the poet who is wearing his round glasses. There is an inscription on the back of the photo:
"I am you. We are inseparable, like a face and its reflection when there is a mirror. And the mirror is there. It is always quite near. There is a hidden door in the mirror. If we open this door together, we will be saved. Tomorrow night, at midnight, I will call for the last time. If you refuse to go with me, I will not blame my death on you because when I die, you will join the living dead, too. Remember: I am you. Such is His will. We cannot resist that."
Margarita puts the envelope in an ashtray and sets fire to it together with the photo. She cannot tell whether the man in the photo is the poet or her father....
* * *
Again, Margarita is modeling. This time, her clothes are really far out -- with peacock plumes, with sleeves resembling a bat's wings and the like. In the dressing room, Margarita starts a quarrel with Sugar Daddy for no visible reason, insults her "benefactor," flings dresses, wigs and makeup jars at him, slams the door in the presence of other models, makeup men and costumers, and stalks out. She goes to the film studio hoping to find the director there but not sure whether he is back. She looks for him all over the lot, in the studios, in the director's office, in the corridors and even in the makeup room where she shies away from the pale masks of some monsters. Finally, she finds the director in the projection room where, alone, he is watching Margarita's tests. He is pleasantly surprised to see her. The director welcomes her and invites her to join him. He says people at his office have told him she was looking for him. He sees she is upset and asks what is wrong. Margarita, almost in tears, starts complaining:
"Where were you? You left without even calling. You left me all alone among these beasts..."
"I went to Cannes, to a film festival. I'm sorry I didn't warn you, I had no time."
"You could have taken me with you," says Margarita.
"You must understand: that was impossible. After all, I was away for a few days only," replies the director.
"You don't care. You just need me on the screen, as a puppet, an object. All of you want me only as something inanimate," says Margarita and adds: "Do you know that he is pestering me? It's your fault!"
"Who's pestering you?"
"That crazy poet. He attached himself to me in the studio, during the tests. He keeps bothering me, he calls me on the phone all the time, he walks beside me, he shoves weird envelopes with pictures of bats under my door. He... he..." Margarita breaks off.
"I know who you are talking about. But what's so surprising about it? Many victims of art's tyrannical power are wandering here. Insanity has always been close to creative art. Besides, he saw a beautiful woman and he got hooked, in his own peculiar way.... Just tell him to go to hell. I think you'll know how... "
"Do you understand what you've just said? 'Tell him to go to hell!' To hell? No, you don't understand anything, none of you understands!"
Upset by the director's lack of vision, Margarita whirls around and marches out of the projection room, leaving the director behind. The screen shows a closeup of Margarita wearing a crown of flowers, with an eye in a triangle -- a sign of God -- on top.
* * *
It is midnight. Alone in her apartment, Maargarita is sitting up on her bed, staring at the TV set. It is showing a sequence from "The Wall" by Alan Parker and Pinl Floyd: a man is steering a canoe amid thick green vegetation. The phone rings, but Margarita does not answer. The phone keeps ringing. Finally, Margarita picks it up.
"Farewell, Margarita," says the poet. "I know you will not come with me now, but I cannot wait. It is time. Don't blame yourself for my death. Soon we will meet, and we will be happy there, Margarita. We will be together forever. He promised me this. Till we meet again...."
He hangs up so abruptly that Margarita has no time to reply. For some reason, at this moment she remembers the eyes of the psychiatrist and his strange question: "Are you sure he really exists?"  Now, in her mind's eye, the psychiatrist smiles a disgusting smile and roars with mocking laughter which reverberates against the mirrors in Margarita's apartment. Scared, she rushes to the bathroom sink, turns on the water and bends down to wash her face. Sudenly, a pair of round glasses falls into the sink and breaks into pieces. Stunned into silence, she covers her face with her hands, closes her eyes, raises her head, brushes her hair away from her face. She looks in the mirror, but instead of her reflection, she sees a different face -- framed by her fluffy hair, the tormented likeness of her father stares back at her. He looks the way he appeared right before his death. A groan escapes Margarita's lips and, unconscious, she slumps to the cold tiled floor.
* * *
Margarita enters the psychiatrist's office. "So it's you, Margarita," says he and greets her courteously. Looking her square in the face, he asks her how she feels. Then he makes her promise not to run away this time and to let him complete the psychotherapy session. Stumblingly, Margarita tries to tell him what has been happening to her, but she avoids meeting his eyes. Gradually, outside sounds fade away and Margarita's words become indistinct and turn into mumbling. Before she sinks into a trance, Margarita looks at the psychiatrist's face and sees that he is smiling repulsively. He giggles, takes a pair of round glasses out of his breast pocket and, with his clawlike fingers, puts these glasses on Margarita. She lowers her head on the pillow -- and finds herself on her father's deathbed. She now fully identifies herself with her father. She is stroking her own hand -- the hand of 18-year-old Margarita who was sitting at the head of her dying father's bed. In his death throes, the hands of the "father" reach out for the hands of "Margarita." Their hands, like two bodies, merge -- either in ecstatic coition or in the agony of death. They crash through the mirror and find themselves in a kind of free fall, in a shimmering atmosphere, against a weird and forbidding landscape. Countless "souls" of dead people are suspended there; in feverish excitement, they address silent pleas to the intertwined bodies of "Margarita-and-father." It looks like they demand something from this twin body. (Outwardly, they resemble the large pale monster masks Margarita saw in the film studio's makeup room.) The vision escalates into a wild and silent danse macabre. Finally, the "souls" tear her father (who now looks younger -- or is it the poet?) away from Margarita, although he is clinging to her; and they carry him into the abyss. From deep down, her father's "soul" stretches out its hands toward Margarita in supplication. He shouts: "Margarita, I am here!  Here I am! I am you! I am you!"
The psychiatrist raps out an order and brings the nightmare to an abrupt end. His clawlike fingers hang over Margarita's head. She is sitting before him with her eyes closed, he throat parched and her lips trembling. He looks at her victoriously:
"You will feel better now because you saw what you feared most of all. But you did not see the most important thing. If fear grips you again, come here. I will show you everything, and you will forget what fear is. I know that you can make it, you are strong. Go now, but don't breathe a word about this to anyone, even to a person closest to you. If this person, this man is not ready, he will not understand, and because of this both he and you will perish, and I won't be able to help you. Go now."
* * *
After leaving the hospital, Margarita is walking without realizing where she wants to go. Somehow she arrives at the cemetery. She ambles among the graves and then hears the church bell. She stops before reaching her parents' graves and heads for the church. There, office for the dead is on. Margarits tiptoes across the church floor, moving closer to those attending the service, to the priest and the choir. But then the priest raises his eyes from the Psalter and looks at her sternly and with reproach. It even seems to her that his eyes radiate anger. All those present perforce look at her, too. To Margarita, they also appear forbidding and silently outraged. She tries to make the sign of the cross, but her arm goes numb. Ill at ease, she emerges from the church. Outside, a beggarwoman dressed in black is sitting at the church door. Margarita walks past without noticing her. "Hey," calls out the old woman. Margarita looks back and sees that the woman's face is that of the psychiatrist. She (or he?) reaches out to Margarita and, with a smirk, shows what lies in her (or his) palm. Instead of alms, it is a pair of broken round glasses.... Margarita breaks into a run to get out of the cemetery.
Near Margarita's place, Sugar Daddy is waiting for her in his car. He tries to "clear up things" and asks her to marry him. Margarita fails to respond. He says she is ungrateful. She suggests, in a level voice, that he take back all his presents. He accuses her of betrayal and assures her that her attempt to become a movie star will fail.
"Get it through your head that you're just a broad, nothing more. Sex is the only thing you're good at. You're simply a whore, a good-looking whore! Your mother, too, was a whore! It was she who drove him out of his mind."
"That's a lie! She had nothing to do with it!" snaps Margarita.
"Really?" says Sugar Daddy, who has worked up a rage. "She mocked him until he had a seizure, and then she rushed to the church, to the priests and atoned for her sins by prayer.... I know, I know everything.... You're just like her. If it weren't for me, you'd be a skid row whore, ready to do anything for a small bill. If it weren't for me, your mother, too...."
"Stop it!" says Margarita and gets out of the car.
"You're through!" snarls Sugar Daddy, starts the car and drives off.
"Don't go away!" Margarita calls after him unexpectedly. "I'm scared! I don't want to be left alone! You have all abandoned me!"
"Call your stinking director, you screwball!" comes from Sugar Daddy, and he disappears around a curve. Margarita reaches her apartment. She is afraid she will find another envelope with pictures of bats or something similar, but there is nothing of the kind either by the door or in the apartment. Fearfully, Margarits looks in the mirror, but sees only the normal reflection of her pale face. Posters with pictures of her still grace the walls, and in these pictures she is smiling. She takes off her clothes, walks into the bathroom and takes a long, leisurely shower, as though waiting for the jets of water to wash away a dark aura. Back in the room, she comes across the old family album which draws her to it as if by magic. She leafs through it, and on the page where her parents' wedding photograph used to be, she discovers the photo is missing. In its place the dead body of a bat is spread. Margarita starts shaking all over. She feels hopelessly trapped. Despair washes over her, and she grabs a vial full of sleeping pills. She walks up to the mirror, looks at her reflection, and tears start streaming down her cheeks. She is about to take a deadly overdose of those sleeping pills.
The phone rings, and the sound jolts her. The pills spill from her hand and scatter on the floor. Weeping, she approaches the phone and looks at it as though it is a strange-looking animal that has somehow found its way into her apartment. Finally she checks herself and picks it up. It is the director calling.
"Hi, I hope I didn't wake you up," he says. (We can see him in his office, surrounded by sketches and scaled-down models. There are several beer cans on the desk in front of him.) "I'm at the studio, sitting here and thinking."
At first, Margarita cannot bring herself to say anything, merely gasping and sniffling instead. The director asks her what she's been so upset about lately. Not suspecting anything serious though, he starts talking about how they will work together. He wants her to star in his movie. No one else will do. He is sure they will hit it off. The only snag is that except for the finale, there is no story yet. The scripts he's been offered are shit. The producers are driveling idiots: they are wasting money because they don't understand that such scripts are no good. He is desperate, he is on the brink of an artistic breakdown....
After everything she has gone through, the director's complaints sound ridiculous to Margarita. She gets a grip on herself and, in shaky voice, she asks him to listen to her.
"I've got to tell you everything right now," she says and, nervously and not very coherently, recounts everything that has happened to her since that ill-omened day she came to his film studio for tests. As she continues with her story, the director, with rising excitement, paces back and forth in his office, clutching the phone and listening avidly to what Margarita is saying. (As before, we can see Berdyaev's and Leonardo's portrairs on the wall of his office.) When Margarita recounts her failed suicide attempt half an hour ago, the director begs her to stop and now listen to him. He tells her breathlessly that she is a real godsend. That's it! The story is right there! The movie is ready -- it merely remains to be shot! She will help him defeat the demonic side of human nature in his film.
Margarita interrupts and pleads with him to take her away from her apartment as soon as possible. She cannot stay here for another moment, she will wait for him outside -- anywhere at all, as long as it is not at home. The director hurries out of the studio, gets into his car and really steps on the gas to reach their Garden Circle rendezvous. Margarita climbs in beside him and says impatiently:
"Off we go!"
* * *
The heavy studio gate rumbles and screeches as it opens. The corridors are dimly lit and deserted. The director and Margarita enter. Near the door, the director comes up to the feeder switchboard and turns all the lighting on. Gradually, in a far corner of the vast lot, the outlines of a fantastic set take shape. There is a gently sloping stairway leading up to a fabulously beautiful gate amid lush golden-hued foliage. Enchanted, Margarita drinks in the unearthly, mirage-quality sight. Her attention is distracted by a rumbling and screeching noise, this time coming from above. The director throws another switch, and a boat, as fabulously beautiful as the set itself, is lowered swiftly. When it reaches level ground, the director points to the floor and explains:
"Here we'll have the sea of sin and suffering. You'll sail it in this sacred boat, heading there, toward your Heavenly Bridegroom," says the director, pointing at the set.
He invites Margarita to board the boat together with him and to step under the glittering golden canopy.
"This is where," he continues, "the angels will clothe you in white as the Heavenly Bride, and they will crown you with the sacred diadem. (From here on, we can see, on the screen, everything the director is describing.) You will become the Maiden, a Maiden named Sophia.... The angels will hand you a fiery sword, so you cleanse the world of evil before you reach the place of your Heavenly Bridegroom."
Margarita -- this time as Sophia, wearing a white dress and a white crown topped with the suymbol of God, and wielding a fiery sword -- is sailing the sea in this boat by night. The boat and the canopy are shining radiantly with an eerie pearly luminescence. The fringes of the Bride's white gown are fluttering in a light breeze. An oarsman stripped to the waist is propelling the boat forward; we can see it is the director. On either side of the boat, mirrors pop up out of the black water and in them, incorporeal "souls" of sinners are dancing. Round glasses are glittering on their ugly faces. They are stretching their arms out, trying to break from the surface of the mirrors and grab the sides of the sacred boat. But Sophia strikes at these sinister images with her fiery sword, and the broken fragments of the mirrors dissolve in the black seawater. Finally, the boat reaches the shore and stops to rest at the foot of a stairway which also shines with an inner radiance. The angels who accompany Sophia help her step ashore. She looks back and asks the oarsman: "What about you?" "I stay here. My mission is to row the boat toward the Heavenly Gate but never to cross the Threshhold," replies the oarsman in a resonant voice.
As Sophia approaches the dazzling Gate, the last mirror appears in her path. It is so huge that it hides the Gate from her. A demon is reflected in the mirror. It is the psychiatrist. "You have broken your promise. You have revealed the secret. You belong to me, and I will punish you terribly," roars the demon. He is ready to grab her with his clawlike paws, baring his blood-stained fangs, but Sophia fearlessly raises her sword and aims at the mirror. The demon changes his shape, appears as Margarita's father and pleads with her: "Don't do it! Spare me! I'm your father!" However, Sophia's relentless sword strikes and smashes part of the mirror. In the remaining part, the poet appears and exclaims: "I am you! I am you!" These words fail to stop Sophia either. Then, in the last remaining fragment of the mirror, she sees herself -- the image of Margarita, stark naked. "Don't! It's me, Margarita!" wails the image, but Sophia smashes it, too, and hurls the fiery sword away. The Gate opens before her, and a dazzling Light washes over her. Inexpressibly happy, she sees two perfectly shaped Hands reach out to her. She crosses the Threshhold and the blindingly white Light swallows her.
We realize that the very last sequences are being shown on the screen of a vast movie theater packed with viewers. When the movie ends, the audience goes wild. The lights are switched on, and everyone gets up, clapping their hands and beaming at the director and Margarita -- the creator and the star -- who also get up from their front row seats, turn to face the audience, bow and mouth words of gratitude....
The setting sun's orange disc is dipping into sea. Festively clad in white, the director and Margarita are walking down the marble steps leading to the seaside. Reporters descend on them and start asking questions. In the confusion, Margarita drifts apart, while the director is surrounded by journalists. Someone asks Margarita to sign her photograph. Finally, Margarita and the director make their way to the limousine which is waiting for them at the foot of the stairway. They climb in and shut themselves off from the reporters who keep pestering them until the car door slams shut. Now they are driving along the seashore of a small Mediterranean town. The town looks festive, obviously in connection with the film festival our two protagonists are attending. The director hugs Margarita  and says:
"I never thought we'd be such a hit. And you?"
"Me neither," she replies, smiling, and looks absently out the car window. She sees a passrerby, peers at him and is momentarily alarmed. But this is when the fireworks start. Both Margarita and the director watch the display with childlike delight.
"In our honor," says Margarita.
"In your honor, you world-famous movie star," reples the director.
When they arrive at their hotel, Margarita asks the director to let them all go to hell: the two of them should go straight to their suite because she wants to drink champaigne!
As they walk to the hotel entrance, they are again mobbed by reporters, but the director asks them to wait until morning. In the lobby, the porter hands them bunches of flowers and an armful of telegrams -- congratulations. Smiling happily, Margarita carries the fragrant flowers and the telegrams upsrairs to their suite where champaigne is waiting. The director opens the bottle. Sipping the wine, they walk out onto the balcony. Below is the sea, and above, fireworks flare up from time to time in the night sky.... A bat streaks past the terrace. Margarita glances at it, starts and says they had better get back inside.... Tipsily, she strews telegrams and fax messages around the room.
"What do you know! This is from Sugar Daddy," she says and raises her eyebrows. "Addressed to me and to you. Congratulations, compliments, sweet nothings.... Funny man.... He told me so many foolish things that day."
Margarita walks up to a big mirror and looks at her reflection. "How could he?" she asks.
"Plain male jealousy," remarks the director.
Still at the mirror, Margarita turns to face the director and wiggles out of her dress....
Flares of fireworks light up the two lovers in bed. The lace curtain and the roses in the vase are stirring in the gentle sea breeze....
"The mystic link between birth and death is revealed in the depths of coition," she whispers with irony. Aroused, she ends the phrase with suspension points, each of them a kiss of her sensuous lips....
When her lover, pleasantly exhausted, closes his eyes and drops off, Margarita gets up and, still naked, walks up to a small table, pours herself a glass of champaigne and, glass in hand, stands in front of the mirror. She toasts her reflection silently. Flares of fireworks light up her face, hair and breasts. The transparent curtain is stirring in the breeze. A bat flies into the room. Margarita notices it, but this time she is not at all afraid. Smiling calmly, she watches the bat as it swerves madly but silently in circles near the ceiling. Still holding the glass, she emerges on the balcony, leans against the railing and drinks her champaigne.... Fireworks are bursting in the night sky, and sounds of carnival time merrymaking can be heard. Before Margarita's eyes, the sea is scintillating darkly. From below, the noise of the surf is coming.... The bat is still swerving in circles in the room. We can hear the sound of a wineglass dropping and disintegrating. Its tiny pieces are scattering slowly on the balcony floor, reflecting the twinkling of the fireworks....
Through the billowing curtain, we can see the balcony. Another burst of fireworks lights it up. It is empty. Margarita has disappeared....
In the dark, a man's hands catch the bat and tenderly stroke its furry body. These are the director's hands. He is sitting in an armchair in a dark corner, wearing his bright white suit. A flash of the fireworks lights up his face for a moment and is reflected in ... the round glasses he is wearing. The director smiles to himself, gets up, walks out onto the balcony and releases the bat into the warm night air. Pieces of the broken wineglass glass give a crunching sound under his feet. He takes off his glasses and looks at the splinters somewhat sadly. Then he replaces the glasses, looks down at the surf, reaches into his breast pocket and produces a calendar with Margarita's photo on it. Looking at it, he says:
"Yes, Sugar Daddy, you were right. I was too hasty when I thanked you. I have lost.... On the other hand, all this is make-believe, a product of my imagination -- Margarita, her nightmares, her fears, her clothes, her father's story, the psychiatrist, the mirrors, the poet and even you, my dear Sugar Daddy, are my inventions. The fireworks and this night scene are figments of my imagination. Nevertheless, I have really lost, and the loss is enormous. You remain there, in the world of my imagination, but I am here, all alone, as always."
As though ending his speech with a period, the director flings the calendar down, and, circling and spinning, it falls and is swallowed by the surf.
His arms folded, the director stands on the balcony and looks thoughtfully into the distance. Again, a flare of fireworks lights up his face and its myriad sparks are reflected in his round glasses.... Slowly, the camera backs off from the terrace which overhangs a precipice. After a while, we get a bird's-eye view of the hotel which stands on top of a cliff and resembles a medieval castle. Soon we realize that it is simply a scaled-down model sitting on the director's desk in a familiar room -- his office. Now we can see him in his chair, facing the model and with his back to us. He is playing with the switches of several miniature floodlights of different colors, imitating bursts of fireworks. Presently the director switches off all the lights and remains in almost total darkness.
A few minutes later he reaches out for the phone, pulls it closer to him and dials a number. At the other end of the line, the phone keeps ringing, but no one picks it up...