Now this is interesting because I have a feeling that Roxanne, the American version of this film, was released first. I am not sure as to the release date of the first film for I believe it to be a 80's movie as opposed to a 90's movie. It was on recently but I think, no, I know that I threw out the television paper so I do not know. Anyway, Cyrano de Bergerac seriously romps all over Roxanne, as most French movies tend to do to their American counterparts.
Cyrano de Bergerac is about the captain of the Gascony guard who has a big, no a whopping great nose, and he is very sensitive about its size. He considers himself a freak and that nobody will see past the nose to his soul. Cyrano is a poet and a great lover but he feels he can never be loved because of his physical appearance. The woman that he loves, Roxanne, is in love with another man, Christian, who is in Cyrano's battalion but Christian does not know how to be romantic so Cyrano becomes Christian's romantic side and uses his romantic words to create an intellectual depth to Christian that does not exist.
Cyrano de Bergerac is a tragedy in a number of ways. There is no fulfillment in the romantic sequences. Christian is not what Roxanne wants and they can never really be together because Roxanne loves Christian's words and his looks and nothing else. She claims to love his soul, but it is a soul that says the words that she wants to hear. When Christian tries to confront her without Cyrano's help, she sees a brute that she wants nothing to do with. She does not love his soul but rather his words, the words that Cyrano speaks. The further tragic part deals with the Duke who also loves Roxanne, and wants to marry her. Instead, Roxanne marries Christian, with Cyrano's help and upon discovery, the duke sends them off to the Spanish Front where there is little hope of survival. They are married in word but it is not consummated and the duke makes sure that it is not, and never will be consummated.
The greater tragedy is that of Cyrano. He holds a love for Roxanne, though it is really only attraction to her physical appearance, yet he does not speak of it to anyone. Christian learns before his death, and he is the only one that knows that Cyrano loves Roxanne. This he learns from the letters that are sent in his name. He has read the letters and soon realises that Cyrano gives Roxanne a love that he never could, but Cyrano is constantly held back by his deformity. There is constantly reference to love in spite of a deformity, but Cyrano feels that he is not for Roxanne and remains silent. He spends time with her, every Saturday, and even manages to crawl to visit her on his death bed, but it is a love that remains silent, and the only person that knows and can reveal it is dead.
Roxanne was a comedy, Cyrano de Bergerac is a tragedy. There is no hope in the film and everything is spiraling down to a very bloody conclusion. Cyrano is a master swordsman, who defeats a hundred men by himself, but he cannot stave off the anger of a duke. He is able to fight the Spanish hordes, but he is taunted by a love that he feels that can never be fulfilled. He speaks only of it on his death bed, and even though is very reluctant. This is a very sad movie, nothing like the Hollywood rubbish that is splattered over all of the screens. This is a movie with depth that deals with the real emotions of people. It is not one where the couple get together and live happily in the end, but one in which pain strikes through it right until the end. It is a poetic movie, though much of it will be lost in the translation. In essence, I see Cyrano de Bergerac on the level of a modern Shakespeare for it seems to have lots of Shakespearian elements, including a very deep, poetical language -- even though it is in French.
Cyrano de Bergerac is a film that has one overriding theme and that is Carpe Diem - seize the day. Though such a thing does not happen in this movie, it shows us that it is something that we should do. We cannot let our love kindle unspoken, especially when the woman that our love is focused on so dearly wants to hear. In my opinion, it is not something that should be done for I feel that we need to be tactful in regards to the woman that we speak with and shouldn't overwhelm them, but in Cyrano's case he feels that his nose makes him hideous and that Roxanne won't want anything to do with him, which is not true as you learn at the end. When it comes down to self-doubt then it should be cast away. One should be tactful, but one should not attack oneself in belief that no woman would even want him.