Friday, January 18, 2013

Derp Blog Into Darkness #6: CYRANO DE BERGERAC

In Derp Blog Into Darkness, I take a plunge into the deep with movies I’ve never seen or heard of, with the only common thread throughout being that they were purchased by my partner in the years after the break with her religious upbringing. This gives me a range from mainstream comfort food to more daring, “rebellious” stuff.


From the sacrilege of BRUCE ALMIGHTY we go to the comfort of 1990’s CYRANO DE BERGERAC. Based on the classic play by Rostand, this Dépardieu vehicle is a respectful, handsome movie adaptation. The costumes are gorgeous, the sets are lavish and the battle scenes are nostalgically mounted with real people charging into each other. For a 135 minute movie, it also moves along at a fairly brisk pace.

The tale is a fairly well-known one; big-nosed Cyrano is in love with his beautiful cousin (haha old timey stories) Roxanne, who in turn only has eyes for sexy Christian. Christian, however, is a dolt, and cannot woo a woman if his life depended on it. In steps poor heart-broken Cyrano who will aid his unwitting rival in conquering the object of his own affections by writing his material for him. The only version of the tale I’d ever seen in its entirety was the 1987 Steve Martin version:

And the only thing I remembered from that was the basic conceit, and a scene where Cyrano makes up 50 different ways of insulting someone with a big nose. Turns out it was a scene straight from the original! I remember finding the Steve Martin version of the 50 insults funnier though, but that’s probably cuz I was about 10 when I saw it. On the other hand, stuff that was funny 200 years ago has more chance of being dated, especially when delivered in a bulk of 50 punchlines at once.

I guess the only thing that I found a pity was that I couldn’t get emotionally involved. Cyrano is a whiny babbly who’s either raging at something, or being sad that Roxanne doesn’t love him. In many ways, he is the original internet commenter! Montfleury is his Robert Pattinson. Get off the stage, U FAG! Christian is, as said earlier, a big dolt. Roxanne is beautiful, and that’s pretty much it. She needs poetry to be wooed to such a ridiculous degree that Christian, once left to his own devices, can count on zero residual affection from her for all the other shit that he’s supposedly written. Another lulzy moment comes when Roxanne declares that her lover’s turns of phrase are so beautiful, she would love him even if… even if he were ugly!!! Truly, a romance for the ages! But it’s acted well by all the principals, and the production is pretty gorgeous, so you can hardly fault the film for its source material.

A twenty-minute battle sequence against the Spaniards is the movie’s high point, and in fact a time where the movie managed to get me emotionally involved THRICE!

  1. Roxanne comes to relieve the Gascogne troops by bringing the most motherfucking delicious  looking salamis and hams and loaves of bread I’ve seen on screen in a long time. And they were French as fuck, so you know they were probably really good!

  2. Before the delicious salamis come, however, the troops are starving! Cyrano asks an ex-goatherd to play his flute, as he describes far away Gascogne to the men. It was the first time in the movie where I was genuinely touched by Cyrano’s way with words.

  3. SPOILERS ON DIS WUN When Christian finds out that his ghost writer is also in love with Roxanne, he wants to confront her and give her an honest choice. That’s honorable enough, and for the first time in the movie some good qualities are able to be ascribed to Christian besides his looks! SPANISH STEEL cuts short his plans, however! As he lies dying, Cyrano lies to him that Roxanne was told the truth and chose him. That’s really nice of you, Big Cy! Oh whoops only fifteen minutes of movie left oh well you did your best

Finding out that the movie was nominated for five Academy Awards (and won Costume Design) didn’t surprise me! It’s a nice, well-made movie that wouldn’t offend or shock anyone. My lovely partner told me that she first saw it when she was still a babbly Witness, taped off of TV. She’d watch it a couple times a year, then sought it out on DVD when she was on her own. If I’m not mistaken in my piecing together of evidence gleaned from this experiment so far, I’d say that Jehovah’s Witnesses enjoy movies that are PG-13 maximum, earnest in spirit and pretty to look at. Oscar-bait on condition that it’s not R-rated, basically. Let’s see if this theory holds up with the coming movies, although the next movie is anything but Oscar bait.

Random notes:

  • If one were to have thrown away 1990 money on a movie of Robert E. Howard’s sword-woman Dark Agnes, one could have done worse than casting CYRANO’s Anne Brochet.

  • You should always add “Cyrano” to a Google Image Search of “Roxanne” when children are nearby.

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