A charming & tragic love story-cum-swashbuckling action adventure, based on the infamous play written in 1897 by Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac is set in the mid 1600's and stars Gerard Depardieu in the title role.
A notorious poet and lover of the arts, Cyrano's sharp wit is just as deadly as his sword. Unfortunately, his uniquely large nose stands in the way between him and the love of his life and cousin, Roxane (Anne Brochet), who in turn is in love with the brave but terminally shy Christian (Vincent Perez), a new member of Cyrano's brigade of cadets.
Unknowing to Roxane, Cyrano helps Christian woo Roxane though a series of romantic letters. Unknowing to Christian, Cyrano is writing his letter from the heart. An unexpected love triangle develops, while a looming war against Spain threatens to tear them apart.
Cyrano de Bergerac features a number of hilarious (Cyrano suggesting various insults for his nose to a would be adversary; Christian trying to insult Cyrano), and a number of harrowing moments (Cyrano watching another man kiss the love of his life; a moving if not overlong death scene), which is benefited by Jean-Paul Rappeneau's choice direction, and Jean-Claude Carriere's and Rappeneau's excellent adapted screenplay.
As expected the film is dialogue heavy, with Depardieu's role in particular the hardest to pull off, since a lot of his lines are long strands of poetry, which he delivers with fierce passion and authority. His performance is both highly entertaining and emotionally heartfelt.
Anne Brochet's gives a captivating turn as the ravishing beauty that makes men's hearts a flutter at the very sight of her, and Vincent Perez's swooning good looks (think a Spanish Johnny Depp) is the perfect foil for the role of Christian.
Jean-Claude Petit's score is excellent, if not a little to reminiscent of Danny Elfman's main theme from Batman. Yet it is Ezio Frigerio's production design, Jacques Rouxel's set decoration, and Franca Squarciapino's costume design which steal the show, all three combining to make a grand and lavish backdrop for Depardieu and co.
During a time when visual spectacle and special effects are used to entice audiences, it is nice to find a movie where the power of words can still move the soul, and stir the heart.
A film for hopeless romantics, which could only be justly done by the French.