Friday night movie: Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)

Here’s tonight’s movie:

IMDB rating: [7.4/10]

Description:

Cyrano de Bergerac is a Parisian poet and swashbuckler with a large nose of which he is self-conscious, but pretends to be proud of. He is madly in love with his “friendly cousin” (they were not actually related as cousins), the beautiful Roxane; however, he does not believe she will requite his love because he considers himself physically unattractive. Soon, he finds that Roxane has become infatuated with Christian de Neuvillette, a dashing new recruit to the Cadets de Gascogne, the military unit of which Cyrano is the captain. Christian however, despite his good looks, is tongue-tied when speaking with women. Seeing an opportunity to vicariously declare his love for Roxane, he decides to aid Christian, who does not know how to court a woman and gain her love.

Gascony (Gasgogne in French) is the south-west of France, and Normandy is in the north of France. Cyrano and the other cadets are from Gascony, but Christian is from Normandy.

This movie is very special to me, because I share many of the character traits and experiences of Cyrano. In fact, whenever I want to explain myself to a woman, I show her this movie and highlight certain parts. Like me, Cyrano has a distant relationship with his mother, and no sisters. Like me, his favorite color is white. For him, it symbolizes independence. For me, it symbolizes independence and also chastity, fidelity and secrecy . He wears a white plume in his hat, symbolizing his independence.

At one point in the movie, Cyrano is shown to be fond of making enemies rather than friends, because he resents the way that people are constantly trying to make friends and trying to make people like them. I have that same view. I get very annoyed with Christians who hide their convictions about truth and morality in public in order to be liked by others. In fact, I think that the two biggest challenges to being a Christian are the expectation that if God is real, then he will make you happy and the expectation that following Jesus will make people like you. It’s much better if Christians expect to not be happy and to not be liked – that’s the normal Christian life. Many Christians fall away from their faith because they feel that God should make them happy and that people should like them.

I wish that everyone watching the movie could understand French, because Cyrano always speaks in rhymes in the French.

Here is one of my favorite parts:

Annoying person:
Quoi, pas un grand seigneur pour couvrir de son nom?…

Cyrano, angry:
Non, ai-je dit deux fois. Faut-il donc que je trisse?
Non, pas de protecteur…
(la main son epee)
Mais une protectrice!

He is asked by someone how he expects to survive after he has offended some fool who is protected by a powerful nobleman. Does Cyrano have a powerful protector? His reply: “No, I have no patron… but a patroness” while putting his hand on his sword. In other productions of the play, like this one, he draws his sword.

Cyrano is also very lonely, and finds women very mysterious, and therefore very desirable.

CYRANO:
Regarde-moi, mon cher, et dis quelle esperance
Pourrait bien me laisser cette protuberance !
Oh ! je ne me fais pas d’illusion !–Parbleu,
Oui, quelquefois, je m’attendris, dans le soir bleu;
J’entre en quelque jardin oa¹ l’heure se parfume;
Avec mon pauvre grand diable de nez je hume
L’avril,–je suis des yeux, sous un rayon d’argent,
Au bras d’un cavalier, quelque femme, en songeant
Que pour marcher, a petits pas, dans de la lune,
Aussi moi j’aimerais au bras en avoir une,
Je m’exalte, j’oublie. . . et j’apercois soudain
L’ombre de mon profil sur le mur du jardin !

Translation:

CYRANO:
Look well at me–then tell me, with what hope
This vile protuberance can inspire my heart!
I do not lull me with illusions–yet
At times I’m weak: in evening hours dim
I enter some fair pleasance, perfumed sweet;
With my poor ugly devil of a nose
I scent spring’s essence–in the silver rays
I see some knight–a lady on his arm,
And think ‘To saunter thus ‘neath the moonshine,
I were fain to have my lady, too, beside!’
Thought soars to ecstasy. . . O sudden fall!
–The shadow of my profile on the wall!

It’s a bit sad to me that you guys are not getting the original French, but if you watch the 1990 version of the movie with subtitles, you can at least hear the rhymes. Here’s the play in French and in English for those who prefer to read rather than watch. If you read the play, you get more details but you lose the swordfights. Cyrano is the best swordsman in Paris, and not afraid to use his sword to make a point.

Happy Friday!

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One thought on “Friday night movie: Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)”

  1. Nice selection! I enjoy your movie selection and comments; this one no less. In a day and age where image is everything, this is a good reminder that looks isn’t all there is with everything.

    Like

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