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Film / Cyrano de Bergerac

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The 1990 film adaptation of Edmond Rostand's stage play Cyrano de Bergerac, directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau. It stars Gérard Depardieu as Cyrano, Vincent Perez as Christian de Neuvillette, Anne Brochet as Roxane and Jacques Weber as Count Antoine de Guiche.

In 17th century Paris, Cyrano de Bergerac is an improvisatory poet and swordsman with a large nose of which he is self-conscious, but pretends to be proud. He is madly in love with his cousin, the beautiful Roxane. However, he does not believe she will requite his love because he considers himself physically unattractive, due to his overly large nose. Soon, he finds out that Roxane has become infatuated with Christian de Neuvillette, a dashing new recruit to the Cadets de Gascogne (the military unit in which Cyrano is serving). Christian however, despite his good looks, is tongue-tied and clueless when speaking with women, terribly lacking Cyrano's talent when it comes to improvise poetry. Seeing an opportunity to vicariously declare his love for Roxane, Cyrano decides to help Christian.

The film is considered as the most faithful and lavish Period Piece adaptations of the play to the big screen to this day, and won a number of awards including the César for Best Film and Best Actor (for Depardieu), and the Oscar for Best Costume Design. In 2010, it was ranked #43 in Empire's "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" list. To this day, it also holds the distinction of being one of only a small percentage of films to maintain a perfect 100% rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

See also the 1950 American film.

Tropes specific to this film version of the play include:

  • Actionized Adaptation: By virtue of not having the same limitations as stage versions, the film turns the two Sword Fights of the play into swashbuckler-worthy scenes and even adds a big fight at the Porte de Nesle that counted as Offscreen Moment of Awesome in the play otherwise, plus the war scene. Although, while the French trailers of the time did feature these a lot, the heart of the film is still in the dialogue scenes, which outnumber the action ones by a good margin.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • In the play, Cyrano wounds Valvert (possibly fatally) at the end of their duel. In the movie he disarms him and taps his nose, then walks away. But Valvert picks his sword up and charges Cyrano while his back is turned, and so Cyrano ends up wounding him through legit physical self-defense instead of just a duel over honor, though Valvert's fate is still left up in the air.
    • Christian gets to save Roxane from the Spanish, meaning that he does one genuinely heroic thing for her.
  • Adaptational Wimp: In the play, Roxane goes through the Spanish lines entirely by herself, charming her way through their troops with no trouble. In the movie, she does get in trouble and has to be rescued by Christian, though she still manages to bring food to the Cadets.
  • Casting Gag: Jacques Weber, who plays the Count de Guiche in the film, played Cyrano in Jérôme Savary's stage version in 1983.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The play itself doesn't give much details on how Cyrano beats Valvert in their duel, insisting more on Valvert's humiliation and him being taken away by De Guiche's men. Here, he impales himself on Cyrano's sword.
  • Large Ham: It is a requirement to be this when playing the role of the flamboyant and boisterous Cyrano of course, but to render it moviewise, someone like Gérard Depardieu was needed. And he didn't disappoint.
  • Musical Pastiche: The Porte de Nesle scene rips off Danny Elfman's Batman scores, of all things. Listen for youself. There was apparently a plagiarism court case that Elfman won against Cyrano composer Jean-Claude Petit.
  • One-Man Army: The play only states by way of Offscreen Moment of Awesome that Cyrano goes at the Porte de Nesle to protect Lignière from dozens of mooks who are waiting there to ambush and kill him. In the film, the battle happens on screen, with Cyrano displaying much badassery as he throws himself alone in the fight, mows a lot of enemies down and survives without a scratch to tell the tale.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • The film is a Compressed Adaptation. While most of the verses were kept untouched (the film is considered as one of the most faithful screen adaptations of the play), some of them were removed to better blend the play into the film format.
    • The film's English subtitles are based on the invokedclever adaptation Anthony Burgess made of the play's verses rather than on a literal translation, in order to keep the work as rhyming as possible.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Cyrano distributes them like candies, and with much verses, to anyone who gets on his nerves.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: The filmmakers kept the rhymes-based dialogues of the play almost intact instead of seeking more "natural" / streamlined ways to tell the story. And it worked.
  • Swashbuckler: The film is the most action-packed version of the play to date, with two major Sword Fight scenes and a war scene.