DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Cyrano de Bergerac
Cyrano de Bergerac
MGM // PG // February 10, 2004
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted February 12, 2004 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Rent It
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
The movie

I'll say this at the outset: Cyrano de Bergerac is a very well done film, for the kind of film that it is. Production values are high, with attention to details of the period setting in evidence, and a lavish use of costumes and sets to create the romantic, swashbuckling tone of the story. The cast takes on their roles with gusto, most notably Gerard Depardieu in the title role. And the story certainly has roots in a very classy tradition, based on the French play by Edmund Rostand, which in turn fictionalized the real historical figure of de Bergerac, a 17th century duelist and author.

Whether or not you find Cyrano de Bergerac to be an entertaining and enjoyable film, though, depends on whether your tastes coincide with those of the filmmakers. As it happens, I found myself in the unenviable position of intellectually appreciating the polish of the film, while finding that as for its effect, it left me completely cold.

Cyrano de Bergerac is very true to its traditional roots; even though the play that this film was based on was written in the 19th century, it looks backward in style as well as content: this is very much a story of the 17th century, complete with its mix of buffoonery and elegance, witty repartee and a touch of adventure. But each period puts its own stamp on its productions of comedy and adventure, and I've never particularly cared for the 17th century variety. We get a lot of fancy talk, but little real character development; three-dimensional characters are really not attempted.

Where the story really finds its center is in verbal pyrotechnics, from Cyrano's poem composed in the midst of a duel, to his eloquent soliloquys about his beloved. That's all well and good, except... it doesn't translate well. At all. Not only is the dialogue of Cyrano de Bergerac in verse, it's in rhymed verse. It's basically impossible to translate rhymed verse in any meaningful way: we get the sense of it, but not the flavor, not the polish and sparkle of the original French. To make matters worse, quite a lot of that sparkle takes the form of puns and plays on words. Go ahead, try to translate that! The end result is that the English subtitle translation of the dialogue for Cyrano de Bergerac misses out on exactly the effect that the film is most striving for.

OK, so there's a lot lost in translation. What's left? Well, there's the basic love story between Cyrano and Roxane; whether that interests you or not depends on how interested you become in the characters. As for me, I wasn't hooked; I'm not sure I ever recovered from the effect of the overwhelming first scene, in which a dozen different characters are introduced in a whirl of activity in a crowded theater. It's quite confusing, and certainly not the way to get off to a good start.

Cyrano de Bergerac is a comedy, so we might look for a few laughs here and there, but again I found that it fell short. The humor here is a mix of fairly ordinary physical comedy with that kind of bickering-and-sniping exchanges that I recognize as intended to be funny, without actually finding it funny in the least.

The DVD

Video

Cyrano de Bergerac is presented in a non-anamorphic widescreen transfer, at the 1.66:1 aspect ratio. This is a fairly common aspect ratio for European films, and is the original format. It's a quite respectable transfer, with clean, bright colors, good contrast even in dark scenes, and a generally crisp and attractive appearance. Viewers have the choice of playing the film with English subtitles, Spanish subtitles, or no subtitles at all.

Audio

The French Dolby 2.0 soundtrack for Cyrano de Bergerac delivers a pleasing audio experience. The overall sound is clean and clear, with the dialogue sounding natural and distinct.

Optional subtitles are provided, in English and Spanish.

Extras

The only special feature is a theatrical trailer for the film.

Final thoughts

I wanted to like Cyrano de Bergerac, and it does seem like there's a lot to like: a very well regarded lead actor, in Gerard Depardieu, a classic story, and award-winning costumes and sets establishing a rich period setting. But the French verse dialogue, with its witty repartee and plays on words, doesn't translate well at all, and the story and characters never really worked for me, either. MGM has given the film a good transfer, though it lacks any real special features, so viewers who have seen it before can be assured of a worthwhile purchase; for those who are intrigued but haven't seen it, I'd recommend starting out with a rental.

Other Reviews:
Popular Reviews
1. The Wonder Years: The Complete Series
2. Nightbreed: The Director's Cut
3. WKRP In Cincinnati: The Complete Series
4. Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Series
5. The Sopranos: The Complete Series
6. F for Fake: Criterion Collection
7. Sex Tape
8. Sea Hunt: Complete Season 1
9. The Dogs of War (Limited Edition Series)
10. Begin Again


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use