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Cyrano, ghost writer
November 2004 SITE MAP   SEARCH

Cyrano De Bergerac
cast: José Ferrer, Mala Powers, and William Prince

director: Michael Gordon

112 minutes (U) 1950
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Fabulous/ Fremantle DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
Cyrano de Bergerac is the ultimate Renaissance man - poet, soldier, playwright, philosopher, duellist, and wit. There's just one problem. His immense nose renders him grotesque, seemingly beyond all hope of realising his love for his beautiful cousin Roxanne. When she falls for a handsome but tongue-tied soldier, Christian, Cyrano heroically swallows his pride and volunteers to help Christian win her - but a wicked Count has his eye on her too, and he's prepared to do anything to get her, even engineer Christian's death...

Rostand's play, the greatest love story of all time, takes some living up to, but this black and white version does rather well. Yes, it's a little stagy and stiff in places, and Mala Powers' Roxanne is a passively pretty heroine, rather than Rostand's spirited independent woman, but the film buckles its swashes with energy and subtlety. Admittedly, many of the play's nuances are lost - Christian's ambiguous symbiotic relationship with Cyrano is skirted, and the Count de Guiche is denied much of his battlefield redemption - but the passion and self-sacrifice is undiminished.

Jose Ferrer won an Oscar for his performance in the title role, and it was well deserved. Ferrer rises to the many challenges of the character with ease, delivering a purring sophistication reminiscent of Alan Rickman, and a tragicomic vulnerability all his own. The final scenes in particularly are as heartbreaking and as defiantly triumphant as any version is ever likely to achieve. If you don't know the story, this is a good place to begin: if you're already a Cyrano fan, this is a worthy addition to any collection.

DVD extras consist of text biographies of the cast, but with a film of this vintage, a certain lack of material is to be expected.

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