Cyrano de Bergerac
- Michael Gordon
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Thursday, August 19, 2004
The present review is about Hollywood’s most famous adaptation of Rostand’s play. Translated by Brian Hooker, it’s as witty and inspirational as its original French version, or so I hear. Cyrano de Bergerac (José Ferrer) is an intelligent and arrogant man with a prominent nose, hardly a kindly fellow, despite his undeniable chivalry and manners when it comes to the ladies.
But as it happens, Cyrano loves one woman, his cousin Roxane (Mala Powers), more than most men love their women. He loves her blindly and passionately, despite his low expectations to ever gain her love in return.
Given his little opportunity to express his love for Roxane, Cyrano becomes a man of plume and sword, astounding in both terrains, despite his many enemies. But when Roxane approaches his cousin to make a confession, which he naïvely expects to be her love for him, his world succumbs: She loves another, fellow soldier Christian de Neuvillette (William Prince), and asks our hero for help.
Cyrano’s conflict is clear: He hates Christian for having Roxane’s love, but loves her so much, he can’t but help her. His resolution is as noble as it’s evil: He helps Christian in his quest to gain Roxane, by giving him words to write and say, so that Roxane falls for his own words rather than Christian’s. The scheme proves tragic, and three lives are forever shattered.
Rostand’s play, as stated before, overflows with inspiration. It’s as if Cyrano was alive, and his words came out effortlessly, maybe a result of the author’s own feelings… Moments like Cyrano making up jokes about his nose, and the famous balcony scene, are heartfelt to say the least.
The complexity of the main character is fascinating in that he hides so much sensibility and tenderness behind a mask of aggressiveness, and as a result, he suffers very much. The tragic elements of the story only add to the intensity of his drama.
Though Hooker’s and screenwriter Carl Foreman’s work is remarkable in adapting the French play to the screen, the show fully belongs to José Ferrer. He embodies Cyrano like he’s living his personal tragedy, and convinces in every phase of the character. From cynical to pathetic, from poetic to insulting, and from tender to hateful, Ferrer’s performance is a histrionic triumph.
Overall, a good film, well worth watching.
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