Bergerac is a village located east of Bordeaux, in Southwestern
France. Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac really existed. He lived in the
17th century, which is considered the "classic"
period in the history of France and Europe. He was the author of several
comedies, a tragedy and of fantastic stories about imaginary trips, for
instance to the moon. [There is an allusion to a trip to the moon in the
movie.] Cyrano really did have a very big nose and was in love with his
beautiful cousin Roxane.
Edmond Rostand was an author of heroic and comic dramas who lived in
the 19th century. He wrote the play "Cyrano de
Bergerac" in the style of the 17th century, i.e. in
classic alexandrine verse of 12 syllables per verse. To the French, the
play sounds "classic" even though it was written in the 19th
century. It reveals life in the 17th century: luxury and
emphasis on exagerated refinement (‘preciosité’), affectation,
importance of the military on the one hand and of wit, poetry and the theater
on the other.
At the beginning of the play/movie we are in Paris in 1640, under the
reign of Louis XIII. Under his reign, Canada became a French colony. The
play finishes in 1655, under the reign of Louis XIV, the "Sun
King". The costume worn by the Duke de Guiche at the end of the
play/movie is typical of the extravagance of the court of Louis XIV at
The battles shown in the movie are between France and Spain. They do
not take place in Spain or Gascogne, the area where Cyrano and his men
are from, but in the north, around Arras, in Picardie. That is so
because, at that time, Spain occupied "Flanders", the northern
part of France and today’s Belgium. Spain lost that war; therefore
"Flanders" became part of France.
Edmond Rostand’s excellent play has inspired several movies, but
this one, directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, is considered a
"classic" in its own right because it is the most faithful and
most beautiful adaptation of the play. The actors are outstanding, the
costumes are magnificent and the battle scenes are superbly directed.
There is a constant variation of rhythm and tone.
Cyrano, the play, and the film have ‘panache’ (the last word of
the play/movie *).