Sunday, April 27, 2014

Cyrano de Bergerac

Cyrano de Bergerac; romance/ drama/ comedy, France, 1990; D: Jean-Paul Rappeneau, S: Gérard Depardieu, Vincent Perez, Anne Brochet, Jacques Webber

France, 19th century. Cyrano de Bergerac, an employee of the Royal regiment and a poet, is in love with his distant cousin Roxane, but dares not say it because he considers his large nose disgusting. When he hears that she fancies a new recruit, Christian, he decides to help him by writing love letters for him. Indeed, Roxane falls in love more with the letters than with Christian. The jealous Comte Antoine thus sends Christians regiment to fight the Spanish. Christian is killed, but Cyrano never says Roxane it was he who wrote the letters. 14 years later, Cyrano is wounded in an assassination attempt, but still visits Roxane in a convent. Before he dies, Roxane realizes it was he who wrote the letters.

This 8th adaptation of Edmond Rostand's 19th century play with the same title, Jean-Paul Rappeneau's "Cyrano de Bergerac" is quite poetic: the tendency of sentences spoken in rhymes may seem a little bit staged and forced at times, but once you get use to it, it is a small treat. Naturally, the rhyme is lost in translation to other languages, but if you know at least a little bit French, try to listen to it in original - "Cyrano de Bergerac" is a film deeply entrenched in the French linguistics, a film that is 80% manifested in English, but 100% in French. As good as S. Martin was in "Roxanne" made three years earlier, this is the better film: Gerard Depardieu's Cyrano is a very complex character, a one that is comical and witty (during fencing, Cyrano ironically "stabs" his opponent in the face with his nose; he jokes: "My nose always precedes me by 15 minutes"; yet during other occasions, he is very tempered about it, and one soldier explains to Christian: "Even a handkerchief could bring you into a grave") but also tragic at the same time due to the love triangle. Cyrano is the not just the ultimate 'ghost writer', but also the ultimate 'ghost lover', a subtle Quasimodo, a poetic soul misunderstood because of its physical appearance, but noble enough to allow his love to love another, while he lives in romantic exile. Due to the natural chemistry, even problematic sequences seem plausible here. As great as Depardieu is in the ambitious title role, the charismatic Anne Brochet matches him as Roxane, and the way she speaks her lines so naturally is pure harmony, especially the famous scene where she reads the love letter aloud containing a poem about a kiss delivered in writing, and she reading it with her lips.


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