Saturday, April 28, 2012

Vertical viewing—Cyrano de Bergerac

In wine tasting, there is a term called vertical tasting—sampling one wine varietal from the same producer from several vintages. So I call it Vertical Viewing when I watch and compare several different versions of films. It's great to really get into the storyline and compare the acting and the strengths and weaknesses of each film. A fine example of this movie obsession I have would be Cyrano de Bergerac. IMDB shows 16 different version of C.D.B., if you include TV productions, and (so far) I have seen 4 versions of the story:

—the 1945 version with Claude Dauphin
—the 1950 version with with José Ferrer
—the 1987 version (called Roxanne) with Steve Martin
—the 1990 French version with Gerard Depardeau

You get the idea, right? José and Gerard do the best jobs, IMHO, and also Kevin Kline and Joseph Feinnes have taken on this role, and both done smashing jobs.

We all know the basic story...Cyrano de Begerac helps an army officer woo Roxanne, the woman he actually loves. Cyrano is a soldier, musician, philosopher, poet, and fantastically witty, but best known for his enormous....gigantic...huge... um... nose! My favoroite bit in each film is right at the start, when Cyrano challenges a man to a duel, basically defending his big snozz. He describes the magnificence of his nose... well, read below and watch the video.

José Ferrer's Cyrano Nose Speech video (Click to watch)

Cyrano Roars...
What? How? You accuse me of absurdity? Small, my nose? Why Magnificent, my nose! You pug, you knob, you button-head. Know that I glory in this nose of mine, for a great nose indicate a great man genial, courteous, intellectual, virile, courageous as I am and such as you poor wretch will never dare to be, even in imagination.  Don't you realize that a nose like mine is both scepter and orb, a monument to my superiority? 

My nose is Gargantuan! You little Pig-snout, you tiny Monkey-Nostrils, you virtually invisible Pekinese-Puss. 
A great nose is the banner of a great man, a generous heart, a towering spirit, an expansive soul--such as I unmistakably am, and such as you dare not to dream of being, with your bilious weasel's eyes and no nose to keep them apart! 

With your face as lacking in all distinction, as lacking, I say, in interest, as lacking in pride, in imagination, in honesty, in lyricism, in a word, as lacking in nose as that other offensively bland expanse at the opposite end of your cringing spine, which I now remove from my sight by stringent application of my boot!

The dialog continues and turns into a sword fight. Good Swashbuckling indeed!

Click on "vertical viewing" label below for other vertical viewing suggestions!
Or click to read my vertical viewing posts of 
EmmaLove Affair A Christmas CarolAnna Karenina, and Shakespeare's Tempest!

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