Cyrano de Bergerac (1990): France’s Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, Starring Gerard Depardieu

The extraordinarily talented Gerard Depardieu, who has appeared in more than 70 films to date, gives his Cyrano a winning combination of grace and gusto, boasting a screen presence that’s commanding both literally and figuratively.

He’s unexpectedly dynamic and physically vibrant during the dueling scenes, recalling such Hollywood’s acrobatic stars Douglas Fairbanks, Errol Flynn, or Burt Lancaster.

Inevitable comparisons were made between Depardieu’s interpretation and that of Jose Ferrer, which won him the 1950 Best Actor Oscar.

Depardieu brings a welcome vibrancy to the role, which won him the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival. Brochet’s Roxanne is not shallow, as she is often portrayed, but much a product of her times, impressed with the literary conceits of poseurs of her generation.

With its masterful acting, exquisitely muted cinematography, vast complement of extras, extravagant props and scenery, “Cyrano de Bergerac” was, at $20 million, France’s most expensive movie production.

Though filmed on a grand scale, it does not lose the emotional impact of the play, which had its premiere in Paris in 1898, and has been a mainstay of

In this version of Edmond Rostand’s classic drama of unrequited love, Depardieu’s Cyrano is less physical caricature, more flesh and blood, and a markedly younger, more virile nobleman than the usually avuncular ones of the past. Dealing as it does with universals–that beauty is both in the eye of the beholder and only skin deep–this slightly abbreviated adaptation by director Jean-Paul Rappeneau and Jean-Claude Carriere retains both the panache and poignancy of its source.

The film opens in a theater where the lovers first meet and where Cyrano has come to jeer at his enemy, the ham Montfleury (Gabriel Monnet). Cyrano is heard before he is seen, and his voice practically bellows with resonant majesty. When he finally appears, in profile, his nose immediately draws attention. What is interesting here is, unlike other productions where the nose stops just short of Pinocchio’s and makes an obvious freak of the character, the producers have gone to pains to see that this Cyrano is not grotesque. It is Depardieu’s normal nose in shape, only extended, and by making the character less of a freak; they make his pain all the more poignant.

World premiering at the 1990 Cannes Film Fest, Cyrano de Bergerac later swept the Cesar Awards (French Oscars).

Oscar Nominations: 5

Foreign Language Film

Actor: Gerard Depardieu

Art Direction-Set Decoration

Costume design: Franca Sqarciapino

Makeup: Michele Burke and Jean-Pierre Eychenne

Oscar Awards: 1

Costume design


Oscar Context:

The Best Foreign Language Film Oscar was “Journey of Hope” from Switzerland in a contest that also included “Ju Dou” from China, “The Nasty Girl” from Germany, and “Open Doors” from Italy.

British actor Jeremy Irons won the lead Oscar for the biopic “Reversal of Fortune.”