Piazza Maggiore > 21:15


Jacques de Baroncelli
Introduced by

Sophie Seydoux (Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé)

Accompaniment by Daniele Furlati (piano) e Alberto Capelli (flamenco guitar), Charo Martin (cantaora)

In case of rain, the screening will be canceled


Thursday 27/08/2020


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

When he began shooting La Femme et le pantin in December 1928, Jacques de Baroncelli already had a rich career under his belt, having made 53 films since 1915. The former director of Film d’Art distinguished himself with his literary adaptations: Le Père Goriot, Le Rêve, Pêcheur d’IslandLa Femme et le pantin is adapted from the play that Pierre Louÿs and Pierre Frondaie had adapted from Louÿs’ novel (1898) and for which the Société des Cinéromans acquired the rights in 1927. Already, in Firmin Gémier’s 1910 production of the play for the Théâtre Antoine, Régina Badet had shocked her contemporaries with a dance suggesting nudity. Baroncelli began with high-profile filming in Andalusia and then shot the interiors at the Joinville Film Studios. The filming was completed in February, the editing finished at the beginning of March and the musical score was immediately commissioned from Edmond Lavagne, Georges van Parys and Philippe Parès. While La Femme et le pantin was Van Parys’s first film score, he had just recorded the French version of Ramona for Columbia – a song already popular thanks to the Argentinian Carlos Gardel. On 1 June 1929, the film was screened just for one week at the Paramount, a prestigious venue on the Grands Boulevards in Paris. The film was re-released in the autumn of 1929, in a version that reintegrated the nude scene that had previously been censored. However, the film was to suffer from the arrival of the talking pictures. All the same, Baroncelli made use of sumptuous photography, creating tableaux vivants (the Goya-inspired overture, a shimmering party), working between shadow and light thanks to panchromatic film, setting the verve of the people in contrast to the restraint of Don Mateo, to bring out the candid and tempting sensuality of Conchita, whose ambiguity Pierre Louÿs underlined. The film relies on the talent of its lead, Conchita Montenegro, a Spanish dancer turned actress. She was 17 when Baroncelli hired her for her only French film, preceding a brilliant career in America. In 2020, the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé restored the original negative of the film, including the flash-titles from the original boxes. This negative corresponds to the montage edited for the French territory. The trials shot in KellerDorian, mentioned by the press during the shooting, have not been found.

Stéphanie Salmon 

How does Conchita carry out her dance of seduction? In the oldest, the most trite of ways: through the sudden running off, the unexpected returning, the dilation of desire. Almost to balance such obvious novel-esque strategy, the spectator is made to feel the exceptionalism of moments that appear like small avalanches, or visual catastrophes. There is always something that stands between Don Mateo’s gaze and the object of his attraction; first, the dividing glass window inside the train; then, during the first encounter at Conchita’s house, a closed door and a candid arm appearing and stretching out, a curtain beyond which the profile of a nude body can be distinguished. “I want to stay here, to rest a little…”: Baroncelli does not fail to note the erotic detail of the cool floor mat, meant for the private languor of an untouchable body. Later on, it will be the cast iron of impenetrable bars and a closed gate that mark the final failure, the clear metaphorical exclusion of Don Mateo (we find this in Buñuel too). Inside this strategy, the nude body is neither a marginal occurrence nor just a visual innuendo: Conchita is insolently and ‘artistically’ nude in the most complicated, built-up and surprising scene of the film, the forbidden flamenco, danced only for the eyes of the foreign audience: where the smooth and literary Baroncelli, in order to render a really catastrophical view, even goes so far as to interrupt the codes of ordinary film language to touch those (no longer new) of the avant-garde.

Paola Cristalli

Cast and Credits

Sog.: from the eponimous novel (1898) by Pierre Louÿs and its adaptation (1910) by Pierre Louÿs e Pierre Frondaie. Scen.: Jacques de Baroncelli. F.: Louis Chaix. Scgf.: Robert Gys. Mus.: Edmond Lavagne, Georges Van Parys, Philippe Pares Int.: Conchita Montenegro (Concha Perez), Raymond Destac (Don Mateo Diaz), Andrée Canti (la madre di Conchita), Henri Lévêque (André Stévenol), Jean Dalbe (Morenito), Raoul Lagneau. Prod.: Les Films de France, Societe des Cineromans. DCP.