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  • Writer's pictureEllen Cheshire

Cyrano de Bergerac - 30th anniversary revisit

Updated: May 5, 2023

In 1990 Gérard Depardieu, the darling of the French cinema for 20 or so years, became an international star with the release of Cyrano de Bergerac (1990, Jean-Paul Rappeneau) and Green Card (1990, Peter Weir).

30 years on and the BFI have released a sparkling 4k restoration of Cyrano de Bergerac.

There's a whole host of extras, and the first printing comes with a booklet with new essays by Dr Martin Hall, Corinna Reicher and me. Buy it here.

To whet your appetite, here are the opening paragraphs of my news essasys on Gérard Depardieu and Jean-Paul Rappeneau.

Gérard Depardieu

With more than 200 films, spanning a 50 plus year career Gérard Depardieu must surely be one of the hardest working actors of the late 20th and early 21st century. His larger than life figure on-screen is equally matched by his off-screen persona which, largely fuelled by alcohol and ambition, has encompassed great highs and lows.

Depardieu was born in 1948 in Châteauroux, a small town in central France. He was one of six children and his father was an alcoholic who lost his job as a sheet metal worker. His family were poor and life was tough. Disinterested in school and rebellious in nature, aged 12 he fell in with a group of older boys, “We knocked off jeweller’s shops, stole cars. We robbed supermarkets and sold arms. I got to know all the about judges and juries, prison and probation.”

Jean-Paul Rappeneau

“Cinema seemed to be the ultimate – the union of theatre and image, theatre magnified by film.” Jean-Paul Rappeneau The young Jean-Paul Rappeneau got his first taste of the theatre in 1940 when his mother, who had dreamed of being an actress took him, aged 8, to Paris to see Cyrano de Bergerac at the Comédie-Française. Amidst the chaos of war and black-outs he fell in love with both theatre and Cyrano de Bergerac. It was a far cry from their life in Auxerre in the Bourgogne region France with his five brothers and sisters and his father who was a public works engineer.

After the war, when the import on American films was lifted he established a film club in Auxerre. He said, "The first film I saw was Robin Hood, by Michael Curtiz. And then [I saw] Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, the biggest film ever shot. I understood that night that cinema was the supreme art. That no other had this power. I knew at that moment that I would make my life."

If you'd like to book me for a talk about this film or Gérard Depardieu do get in touch.

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