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13 July 2016

Il romanzo di Maud (1917)

Il romanzo di Maud/Maud's romance (1917) was the second film Diana Karenne directed herself, after Lea (1916). She also played the lead. On the Italian postcards with French (!) and sometimes Italian captions in this post, the Ambrosio production is called Demi vierges, after the title of the French book by Marcel Prevost on which the film is based.

Diana Karenne in Il romanzo di Maud/ Demi-vierges
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex, Terni, no. 4035. Photo: Film Soc. An. Ambrosio, Torino (Turin). Caption: "Maud, don't play with my passion". For this post we followed the postcard numbers, but the numbering does not seem to follow the narrative.

Diana Karenne in Demi-vierges
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex, Terni, no. 4037. Photo: Film Soc. An. Ambrosio, Torino (Turin). Caption: "The secret anxieties pass inadvertently without disturbing the party rhythm."

Diana Karenne in Il romanzo di Maud/ Demi-vierges
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex, Terni, no. 4038. Photo: Film Soc. An. Ambrosio, Torino (Turin). Caption: "One step further and I throw myself from the window."

Diana Karenne in Demi-vierges
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex, Terni, no. 4039. Photo: Film Soc. An. Ambrosio, Torino (Turin). Caption: "But if you will love your husband? No only you, forever!"

Diana Karenne in Demi-vierges
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex, Terni, no. 4040. Photo: Film Soc. An. Ambrosio, Torino (Turin). Caption: "Faithful to her promise, she goes to her sweet rendez-vous."

Just a modern woman?


Il romanzo di Maud (Diana Karenne, 1917) is based on Les demi-vierges (1895) by Marcel Prevost. Polish born diva of the silent Italian cinema Diana Karenne plays the free-spirited Maud de Rouvre. Alberto Capozzi plays Maxime and Francesco Cacace acts as Julien.

Maud has an affair with an opportunistic and dubious gentleman, Julien de Suberceaux. When their relationship has an impasse, Maud sees new perspectives in the rich provincial noble Maxime de Chantel. Julien doesn't give up and forces her to see him in secret.

When Maud en Maxime are about to marry, the jealous Julien tells Maxime the truth, but Maud denies all and chases him away. When Julien threatens to kill himself, Maud coldly responds that she doesn't care. Julien shoots himself.

When Maxime forces her to tell, Maud confesses her former affair, but says she only loves Maxime now. Eventually, Maxime, though, cannot forgive Maud and abandons her.

The story is drenched in 19th century bourgeois ideology, i.e. the woman can only succeed in a rat race for a rich marriage with her beauty as only weapon, as the perspective of a working career is considered humiliation. Is the blasé, calculating and flirtatious Parisian Maud in fact just a modern woman?

The film was heavily censored in Italy. The Italian censor not only ordered many cuts, but also forced Ambrosio to change the original title from Les demi-vierges into Il romanzo di Maud. However, after first screenings the film was mostly distributed as Les demi-vierges. Today Il romanzo di Maud is considered lost.

Diana Karenne in Demi-vierges
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex, Terni, no. 4041. Photo: Film Soc. An. Ambrosio, Torino (Turin). Caption: "And his eyes express the passion that his lips dare not speak."

Diana Karenne in Demi-vierges
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex, Terni, no. 4042. Photo: Film Soc. An. Ambrosio, Torino (Turin). Caption: "It is tea time."

Diana Karenne in Demi-vierges
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex, Terni, no. 4043. Photo: Film Soc. An. Ambrosio, Torino (Turin). Caption: "I love you Julien... that should be enough for you!"

Diana Karenne in Demi-vierges
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex, Terni, no. 4044. Photo: Film Soc. An. Ambrosio, Torino (Turin). Caption: "But the token of love was not collected by Maxime."

Diana Karenne in Demi-vierges
Italian postcard by IPA CT Duplex, Terni, no. 4045. Photo: Film Soc. An. Ambrosio, Torino (Turin). Caption: "A gaze, a smile and so love is born."

Sources: Vittorio Martinelli (Il cinema muto italiano, 1917 - Italian) and IMDb.

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