Silent Cyrano Easily Holds Its Own.
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 09/23/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have always been attracted to the story of CYRANO DE BERGERAC. I first encountered it as a Classics Illustrated comic book in the early 60's (which I still have). Later there was the famous 1950 film with Jose Ferrer which appeared on television many times while I was growing up. In college I had the opportunity to read Edmond Rostand's original play (but not in French). Years later came Steve Martin's adaptation ROXANNE and finally the 1990 Gerard Depardieu film which for me is the definitive version. Now comes the 1925 French film which I first saw in 1996 shortly after it was released on video.
This silent CYRANO can easily hold its own against the others. Of main interest is the incredible Pathe' Hand Coloring used which involves a variety of techniques including stencil coloring and hand painting. This is one of the few surviving examples of this lost art and is worth it alone just for that. But there is much more. The performance by Pierre Magnier as Cyrano is the heart and soul of the film as it needs to be. He strikes just the right balance of cocky arrogance and heart on sleeve romanticism. Linda Moglia and Angelo Ferrari are fine as Roxanne and Christian although there is little for them to do except advance the plot. The performances are remarkably free of the histrionics which are usually associated with silent films. Even Cyrano's "nose job" is understated and quite believable.
The look of the film is ideal. You really feel as if you've been transported to the France of Louis XIII. The director Augustino Genina would later make Louise Brooks' last major film PRIX DE BEAUTE'. While the Depardieu vehicle remains the best version, the 1925 CYRANO DE BERGERAC provides an excellent alternative. One of the best introductions I know of to the art of the silent film. Contrary to what it says on the box, the film is subtitled in Spanish (not French) and English. The effective score by Carlo Moser sounds a little weak in performance. Perhaps that is why the ensemble is listed as the Alan Smithee Orchestra conducted by ALAN SMITHEE (the fictional name used when a director wants his/her name removed from a project)."
Phenominal color achievement
James Middleton | Battle Creek, MI USA | 12/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Too often films of the silent era come to us in chopped, cropped, and abused formats. "Cyrano" is flat out gorgeous with its detailed Pathecolor process, giving the scenes a fairy-tale coloration that easily rivals the old two-strip Technicolor. The performances are without the silent hyperbole or melodramatic flairs; in fact, when Pierre Magnier's Cyrano becomes expansive with his flourishes, he seems to be parodying the conventions we might expect after a diet of D. W. Griffith epics. The director, Augusta Genina, later went on to direct Louise Brooks' final European film, "Prix de Beaute," and his gifts with both spectacle and introspective moments are in strong evidence here. An amazing find!"
A rather special silent film!
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 12/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For me, the most obvious special feature of this film is its beautiful and rare Pathe Stencil colouring which, according to the DVD's notes, took three whole years to do! Unlike the early two-colour Technicolor, this method really was like a work of art in soft watercolours or similar, and is perfectly suited to the setting of France in the 1600s with its glorious and elegant costumes. This combination alone already won me, but all other aspects of this film are also of a high quality. I was most impressed by Pierre Magnier who made the character of Cyrano De Bergerac very human and real to me (despite the somewhat artficial nose!) Apart from the touching and inspiring story which shows that true love is more than skin-deep and rather a matter of someone's inner soul, the new orchestral musical accompaniment (composed by Kurt Kuenne, conducted by Timothy Brock) is also wonderful and quite appropriate. Even without the special attraction of its lovely Stencil Color, I'm sure this would rate as a film of very high standard. There is quite a lot to read in the intertitles, but they are easy to read and follow (English being underneath the Spanish) and in a style that also suits the story and atmosphere nicely. It obviously took a lot of effort to make this film (details of the Pathe Stencil Color technique explained in the DVD notes) and David Shepard has likewise gone to some effort to make it available to us today to appreciate and admire once again. Definitely a must in any silent film collection, and no doubt a treat for Cyrano De Bergerac fans in general."