The 1990 version by Jean-Paul Rappeneau is, to my mind, one of the best adaptations of the Rostand story, and a great romance/drama. This version even surpasses some very fine stage adaptations that I?ve seen, and it?s a great story for the stage. You?ve seen the theme many times, the unrequited love of a tragic hero for the maiden, but never like presented here. Gerard Depardieu made this character and movie completely his own, and Rappeneau managed to make all the members of the love triangle equally sympathetic. Christian does come off as sincere, and Roxane does come off as intelligent, but also kind. This pays huge dividends at the end of the movie, with Cyrano?s big revelation that he?s carried with him for many years.
The film treats the key episodes of the romance and wooing by proxy with a skilled artistry that you don?t see in many romances. The idea of writing someone else?s letters for wooing is humorous, and the humor is played perfectly throughout: It?s never ridiculous, because Depardieu and his co-stars play their roles exactly right. The poetry and Cyrano?s love of words is clear, and even the inexperienced Christian is moved. The film could tip into the maudlin at times, but it doesn?t. It feels true. The duels and wordplay are also well-handled, and even Cyrano?s enemies have good moments. It?s also an interesting period of history, and the whole flashing blades/musketeers era beautifully portrayed. One of the best of its type. The acting and ?being there? feeling is spot-on. You feel every insult, and you see how personal the duels are, both with words, and with swords. The stakes are high with Anne Brochet as the object of the men?s desire. This talented comedienne and actress certainly found some depth and intelligence to a character that is often portrayed as merely coquettish or dismissive. Here, we get all the emotions of the love triangle.
The all-french production also shines with its cinematography, art direction, and of course, costumes. The score by Jean-Claude Petit is appropriate and understated.
The final sequences on the battlefield are well-shot and interesting to watch. The final minutes, with Cyrano?s death are well-handled. If you?ve ever loved someone that didn?t love you, that final scene will poke at your heartstrings.
In French of course, but you hardly notice. Recommended.