[Il plebeo] T. int.: Plebeian. T. alt.: Roman grafini Ju. Sog.: dalla pièce Fröken Julie (La signorina Giulia) di August Strindberg. Scen.: Jakov Protazanov. F.: Nikolaj Efremov. Int.: Ol’ga Preobraženskaja (Julia), Nikolaj Radin (il servo Jean). Prod.: Russkaja zolotaja serija. Pri. pro.: 4 marzo 1915. 35mm. L.: 210 m (frammento). D.: 10’ a 18 f/s. Bn.
The adaptation of the Strindberg drama Miss Julie was part of the project “Russkaja zolotaja serija” (“The Russian Gold Series”), launched by Timan and Reinhardt on the heels of the success of The Keys to Happiness and inspired by the Ambrosio Gold Series. The producers counted on the popularity of adaptations of the classics and on the potential for serialization. Starting with adaptations of Russian literature, the “Russkaja zolotaja serija” soon turned as well to foreign literature. Strindberg’s drama, long banned in Sweden for being “too audacious and naturalistic” in portraying the physical aspects of love, returned to the stage in1906 in Stockholm, provoking a sensation. It was quickly translated into Russian, and the producers, likely considering the success of The Keys to Happiness, hoped that the public would see Strindberg as an equal to the popular and scandalous writer Anastasija Verbickaja. Protazanov’s screenplay simplified the plot somewhat, but the result is a film of high quality, so much so that the press defined it as a rare example where a film had been adapted successfully from a play, complimenting the performance of Ol’ga Preobraženskaja as “a believable incarnation of the volatile, neurotic, sensitive countess, with her ambivalent psychology that drives her to be attracted by the handsome servant and at the same time despise him for his ‘coarseness’” (“Cine-phono”, 1915, n. 10). As for the performance of Jean, who seduces Julie and drives her to suicide, critics considered Nikolaj Radin’s work a recall of his previous work in the film Leon Drei by Evgenij Bauer. Plebeian was one of the last films of the “Russkaja zolotaja serija”: in fact it was released between the first and second parts of Vojna i mir (War and Peace), itself a victim of the discord during the shooting, between directors Gardin and Protazanov and the producers. This conflict led to the split between the directors and Timan, and the ultimate demise of the “Russkaja zolotaja serija”.