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Cyrano De Bergerac Review

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Cyrano (Depardieu) is an accomplished poet, playwright, soldier and duellist - but his abnormally large nose means that he is unlucky in love. Harbouring an unrequited crush on his cousin Roxanne, he agrees to help her - even when that means helping the object of her affections to win her heart.

★★★★★

Cyrano De Bergerac arrived in the UK already laden with a Best Actor Award for Gerard Depardieu, scooped at last May's Cannes, and the 1990 European Film Awards' gong for Production Designer Of The Year. These early indicators, suggesting that Jean-Paul Rappeneau's version of the century-old Edmond Rostand classic play is something really rather special indeed, prove to be absolutely correct. This epic tale - several leagues away from Steve Martin's Roxane version of the same story - has Depardieu in fine swashbuckling form as the flamboyant Gascon swordsman and inspired poet with the astonishingly large nose who, shining and suffering by turns, lives for the love of his gorgeous cousin Roxane (a bright interpretation by Brochet), but who - alas! - only has eyes for the pretty but dim-witted Christian de Neuvillette (Perez). Too hung up about that conk ever to make his real feelings known to the lady, Cyrano finally decides to woo Roxane through Christian, penning his billets-doux, and even seducing her on Christian's behalf in a balcony scene a la Romeo And Juliet. After much verbal lovemaking, Christian and Roxane (she still blissfully unaware of the duplicity) eventually marry, but far from living happily ever after, the couple arouse the vengeful jealousy of Roxane's other admirer the Count de Guise (Weber), Christian and Cyrano are packed off to battle as punishment and - affairs of the heart being what they are - it all, of course, goes horribly wrong. Rappeneau has said that this version of Cyrano combines the Rostand play with Errol Flynn's Robin Hood recalled from his childhood and, indeed, this faithful but fantastic adaptation - which even has the characters speaking in the original verse form (superb English sub-titles courtesy of Anthony Burgess) - positively bursts with all the wonder and excitement of a world as seen through a child's eyes: larger-than-life characters, the richest colours and the minutest, most sumptuous details, all of which are lovingly captured by cinematographer Pierre Lhomme in scenes as disparate as the stately magnificence of the Paris opera and the chaos of battle at Arras. For all its spectacle and splendid all-round performances, however, Cyrano De Bergerac is without doubt Gérard Depardieu's film. His is the gentle giant, at times a spellbinding entertainer juggling words and his sword with equal ease, at others, a vulnerable, tongue-tied romantic in Roxane's presence. This is a moving performance which puts the heart firmly back into romance and surely guarantees much hanky-wringing in the aisles. Truly the Greatest Love Story Ever Told.

An epic film brimming over with life, romance, humour, comedy and the sheer panache of Depardieu's Cyrano.