Cyrano de Bergerac
Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac was a triumph from the moment of its premiere on December 28, 1897. It has become the most popular play of the modern French theater, and Cyrano, despite an ugly visage dominated by an enormous nose, has become a world-beloved symbol of generosity, magnanimity of spirit and beauty of soul.
The wonderful Cyrano of this film, Pierre Magnier, understudied Coquelin in the original stage production. He toured with Coquelin and Sarah Bernhardt in 1900, playing Laertes to her Hamlet. Magnier frequently performed Cyrano following Coquelin's death in 1909 and remained active on stage and in films for another forty years, being best remembered today as the General in Jean Renoir's Rules of the Game (1939).
In adapting Cyrano de Bergerac to the silent cinema, director Augusto Genina and scenarist Mario Camerini faced the contradictory task of "opening up" the play to take advantage of its spectacular 17th-century settings and its possibilities for action; while at the same time retaining as much as possible the beloved poetic language of Rostand's original work. The grandeur of costume, setting and action is captured not only in impressive staging and sensitive performances but also through the filmmakers' bold decision to present almost the entire work in the highly stylized and beautiful Pathé Stencil Color process.
A NOTE ON THIS EDITION: Film preservationist David Shepard copied an original nitrate source print to Eastman color negative frame-by-frame using a 1909 Bell & Howell film printing machine, and Alpha Cine Laboratories in Seattle, Washington used several dozen single frames snipped from this original print to carefully match Mme. Thullier's original colors in a new print which was digitally mastered at 20 frames per second. Mr. Kuenne's music was recorded in Olympia, Washington in 1999. Video mastering and audio post-production were achieved at Lobster Films, Paris, and NTSC video conversion and post-production at Image Post, Chatsworth, CA. We gratefully acknowledge the support of La Sept ARTE in preparation of this edition.
Produced for DVD by David Shepard