There are better love stories, but Cyrano de Bergerac is arguably the ultimate celebration of the romantic spirit. Cyrano himself is the ultimate hopeless romantic — romantic for his idealistic principles and irrepressible panache, but hopeless, alas, because of the unfortunate nose which he is sure forever disqualifies him as the romantic lead.
Despite numerous cinematic adaptations — including Steve Martin’s cute romantic-comedy update Roxanne — the definitive Cyrano is probably Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s boisterous, full-blooded film, with France’s greatest actor, Gérard Depardieu, making the part forever his own.
With his ample girth and powerhouse performance, Depardieu dominates every scene, credibly taking on scores of adversaries at once while delivering Cyrano author Edmond Ralston’s iambic pentameter (nicely rendered into rhyming English subtitles by Anthony Burgess). He’s all three musketeers rolled into one; he can improvise satiric verse while dueling, yet becomes tongue-tied in the presence of his beautiful distant cousin Roxane (Anne Brochet), his ideal muse. Then, when Roxane confesses to him her infatuation with a handsome but shallow young cadet (Vincent Perez), Cyrano shows his love the only way he can.
With a balcony scene reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet juxtaposed with battle scenes that would seem more at home in a production of Richard III, Cyrano de Bergerac is a saga only a Frenchman could have written.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.