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Cyrano de Bergerac
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Cyrano de Bergerac More at IMDbPro »

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Cyrano is finally on DVD

Author: Rocket09 from United States
7 October 2005

The 1990 French film version of Cyrano de Bergerac has always left audiences craving more, and the DVD is no exception--in fact, it leaves something to be desired. Cyrano was one of several early 90s films (Raise the Red Lantern, La Femme Nikita) that introduced foreign cinema to a new younger audience, making foreign language films popular for the first time since the 1960s. Before there was an IFC or Sundance Channel, Cinemax and Showtime were friendly to foreign films so that even in the Midwest viewers could see what was on the big screens in NYC or Cannes. This was a godsend for those living in small towns where these films never hit the big screen, but unfortunately these cable versions are often all we have for comparison when reviewing the quality of a DVD. This makes it all the more disturbing to see the Cyrano DVD from MGM World Films--it doesn't even equal the pan and scan cable version.

I first saw Cyrano at a junior college film fest where a video projector was used to show VHS formatted films on a large screen. This was my first taste of the unusual experience of seeing a movie on the big screen that has been "formatted to fit your TV." Nevertheless, I loved the film and taped it when it appeared on cable shortly thereafter. After seeing the DVD I have decided to keep the tape.

Let's get down to details.

After loving the film in "full-frame" I was looking forward to finally seeing a letterbox version--the full theatrical widescreen. I am still waiting. There is a trend today that I call "litterbox version." This is the common trend on cable to show a movie in a slightly wider format than regular pan and scan, but still not in its full cinematic width. The black bars are too small and the image is still being cropped off the sides. I won't pretend to understand the logic behind this--perhaps it's an attempt to play it both ways and satisfy everyone. But people who purchase DVDs with a "widescreen" label do not want to see a litterbox version. Cyrano is such a disc. A quick comparison between the feature and the trailer shows a significant difference in proportion, though neither is showing the entire Panavision image.

What about picture quality? Grainy in the darker scenes, unacceptably so in the final scene. Was the first shot of Vincent Perez always blurry for a few seconds?

Sound? I actually taped this movie twice from cable when I realized that one channel was broadcasting in stereo and one wasn't. The DVD's overall sound is superior to this, but there are numerous audio glitches. Occasionally, a single word of dialog will have an odd echo effect or sounds will briefly jitter into the opposite speaker. This happens often enough to be noticeable.

There is one more significant change that has been made for this DVD. The subtitles. Previous VHS and cable versions featured easy-to-read yellow titles. Here there are old-fashioned white ones. They are easy enough to read, but there is a further change. This is not the famous translation by English author Anthony Burgess. They have abandoned that for a similar version which still does a decent job of making the English rhyme but varies from Burgess's version in noticeable ways. This Burgess translation is cited as a plus in some reviews, but you won't find it on DVD.

Those seeing the movie for the first time will love it, but old fans will want to keep their tapes. From the list of other titles offered by MGM World Films I'd say it's only a matter of time before they release Raise the Red Lantern. Let's hope they don't ruin that one. In the meantime we can count ourselves lucky that at least this litterbox version is wide enough to see Cyrano's entire nose.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Better than Hollywood

Author: jp-powell from Auckland, New Zealand
3 February 2005

Beautiful costumes, poetry, performances and locations makes Rostand's story come alive again. This relatively new film version (there have been untold adaptations both visual and written) about the legendary french historical figure, Cyrano, has been remade well and is a great watch if you like period pieces or romance - hold the cheese.

Gerard Depardieu and Anne Brochet do what Steve Martin and Darryl Hannah could not in the Hollywood tragedy "Roxanne" which adapts the same story. They help make this story of unrequited love both believable and touching while at the same time it is fantastical.

It does also say something about the French view of themselves and their cultural roots.

Top marks. Jacob.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful, magnificient

Author: Daniel Karlsson from Sweden
18 September 2002

I agree with earlier commentators that this film is dashing and romantic, but also that it doesn't get close enough to its characters to make them count emotionally. The first part of the movie is somewhat like a very well done matinée, like a Zorro-episode. It does grow emotionally, but the matinée good-humoured style stays to the end.

What I like about this film, which seems to be an Hungarian/French co-production, is its beauty. Gérard Depardieu does a great job, and I like the poetry. The music is very good and fits extremely well. The cinematography is just brilliant, some scenes are just inhumanly beautiful, any scene from the battle at the end is like an 18th century painting. The costumes are unlike many other historical dramas very realistic.


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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Superb Film, better than Steve Martins 'Roxanne'

Author: braymj from England
16 September 2002

The french classic bought to the big screen in its native tongue. Perhaps a romantic novel - but you will laugh, cry and be amazed by an over-acted death scene. The french language does not detract the enjoyment of the film and if you liked 'Roxanne you will love this film

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

dashing and romantic

Author: ignazia from Canada NW
9 April 2002

What can I say - Depardieu at his zenith - a lovely production.

Whoever translated the text for the subtitles did an extremely impressive job of retaining the poetry of the original. The couplets rhymed, the language flowed and it all seemed so effortless.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A true classic

Author: Mario Bergeron from Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Canada
3 January 2000

Depardieu gives us a giant performance as Cyrano. Perhaps the little problem with the movie is that it's too theatrical.

The death of Cyrano, at the end, is very very theatrical! It tooks him a very long time to die and he can't stop talking like a poet while he suffers. But if we accept that this is from a theatrical play, this movie is more than excellent.

It's fast, even if the film is about two hours. Young Vincent Perez is pretty good too! It's the best Cyrano of the cinema history. French movie directors will do a lot of very good film in the 1990's following this model (let's say: Renaissance films, like Ridicule, Beaumarchais l'insolent, Marquise, La fille de d'Artagnan.) This Cyrano starts the whole thing.

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0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Depardieu is great, but I still prefer Roxanne...

Author: Balthazar-5 from France
11 March 2002

Anthony Burgess' rhyming couplets following Rostand's play have their own charm, but as subtitles, they appear forced... I wonder if non-English speakers feel the same about translations of Shakespeare... The other problem, for me, is that Rappeneau doesn't get close enough to his characters (particularly Cyrano) to make them count, emotionally. Looks great. Doubtless the best 'echt' Cyrano, but an opportunity missed.

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1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

our hero? not quite.

Author: S. Aili from Paris, Texas
2 January 1999

Can I just say that this movie made me feel like the worst cynic ever made? I felt so sorry for pauvre Mlle. Roxane, who gets duped and jerked around through the whole film (while M. Cyrano is romanticized), that I didn't have much sympathy left for our hero. Let me see, Cyrano worships her & yet thinks it's perfectly ok (no, gallant) to trick her into marrying Christian? Of course she must only care about appearances; how could she be an object of worship if she had a brain? (I can hear the replies now: 'Lighten up!' Sure, sure. I told somebody I laughed at the end of this movie & yes, that crossed the line into absurdity..)

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2 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

I fell asleep, but that didn't matter.

Author: Ken Miller ( from Asheville NC, USA
3 March 1999

I saw Cyrano de Bergerac at the movie theater, a grand old theater in Raleigh, North Carolina. About an hour into the movie, I was falling asleep. After nodding off a few times, I came to realize that I was enjoying my shut-eye much more than this pitiful movie.

About an hour and a half into the movie, lightning struck somewhere nearby and all the electric power on the block went out. The movie theater emptied out; not too long afterwards, I was able to continue my sleep at home.

If you are having trouble sleeping, rent Cyrano de Bergerac.

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1 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

The review that follows is negative, and I give away part of the plot.

Author: Spleen from Canberra, Australia
13 July 1999

If the only elephants one has seen have been the Asian kind, an African bull elephant is another kind of thing again, as is Gérard Depardieu. -Sorry, what about him made me think of elephants? Perhaps the way he barges and bellows his way through the role. I was worried now and then that some of the other characters might break. His ability to stay alive is also pretty elephantine. I don't think I've seen a longer death scene outside of Wagner. Fatally wounded in one part of Paris, the hero staggers to another part, staggers around a large garden long enough to say goodbye to the rest of the cast, pauses, ruminates, wanders somewhere else, collapses to the ground - but he's still not quite done for yet ...

So, the hero gives us a bit of a headache and is at best ridiculous (at worst, dislikeable). Is that really so bad? Is it enough to ruin a story with some poetry in it, so beautifully shot?


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