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16 November 2016

Cirano di Bergerac (1923)

The Franco-Italian historical film Cirano di Bergerac (Augusto Genina, 1923) was based on Edmond Rostand's often-filmed play Cyrano de Bergerac. Pierre Magnier starred as Cyrano de Bergerac, the gentleman with the unusually long nose, Linda Moglia played his beautiful but unreachable niece Roxane and Angelo Ferrari played his friend and rival in love Christian de Neuvillette. Will Cyrano ever find love?

Cirano di Bergerac (1923)
Italian postcard. Photo: UCI. Publicity still for Cirano di Bergerac (Augusto Genina, 1923) with Pierre Magnier as Cyrano de Bergerac. Caption: The witty remarks by Cyrano cause for hilarity among the populace present at the theatre.

Cirano di Bergerac (1923)
Italian postcard. Photo: UCI. Publicity still for Cirano di Bergerac (Augusto Genina, 1923) with Pierre Magnier as Cyrano de Bergerac. Caption: Jokingly Cyrano ironizes the presumptuous Gascogne noble, before duelling with him.

Cirano di Bergerac (1923)
Italian postcard. Photo: UCI. Publicity still for Cirano di Bergerac (Augusto Genina, 1923) with Pierre Magnier as Cyrano de Bergerac. Caption: A tale by Cyrano.

Cirano di Bergerac (1923)
Italian postcard. Photo: UCI. Publicity still for Cirano di Bergerac (Augusto Genina, 1923) with Pierre Magnier as Cyrano de Bergerac and Angelo Ferrari as Christian de Neuvillette. Caption: Cyrano addresses to Roxane his most ardent words of love by the lips of Christian, who, incapable to invent such words, memorises them thanks to Cyrano.

Cirano di Bergerac (1923)
Italian postcard. Photo: UCI. Publicity still for Cirano di Bergerac (Augusto Genina, 1923) with Pierre Magnier as Cyrano de Bergerac. Caption: Hidden between the foliage in the garden, Cyrano suggests Christian the magic, sublime words that the latter isn't capable to invent and that aside Roxane's delicate inhibitions.

Cirano di Bergerac (1923)
Italian postcard. Photo: UCI. Publicity still for Cirano di Bergerac (Augusto Genina, 1923) with Linda Moglia as Roxane and Angelo Ferrari as Christian de Neuvillette. Caption: Christian joins the baluster, finally embracing Roxane. He bends towards her mouth to receive the kiss from her, who has bent because of the sweet words Cyrano lent him.

Cirano di Bergerac (1923)
Italian postcard. Photo: UCI. Publicity still for Cirano di Bergerac (Augusto Genina, 1923) with Linda Moglia as Roxane and Angelo Ferrari as Christian de Neuvillette. Caption: the nice phrases of Christian he learned from Cyrano have conquered and seduced Roxane.

A brave and eloquent gentleman doted with an unusually long nose


Cirano di Bergerac (Augusto Genina, 1923) traces the classical story by Edmond Rostand about the strong, witty and eloquent gentleman, a poet, a leader and filled with plenty of charisma and bravado in 17th Century France. He has only one flaw: an unusually long nose. Although there was a real Cyrano de Bergerac, the play is a fictionalisation of his life that follows the broad outlines of it.

Future film director Mario Camerini wrote the script for the silent film version. Cirano di Bergerac was shot in 1922. French stage and screen actor Pierre Magnier played Cyrano. Magnier would act in over 100 films and was also known for La roue (Abel Gance, 1923), and La règle du jeu (Jean Renoir, 1939).

Whoever challenges Cyrano for his nose, will meet his sword. As Cyrano cannot have his beautiful niece Roxane (Linda Moglia) because of his looks, he secretly helps young Christian de Neuvillette (Angelo Ferrari) to seduce her using Cyrano's poetic words.

Christian and Roxane secretly marry before he goes to war, together with Cyrano. From the camp Cyrano writes Roxane poetic letters in Christian's name which increase her love for the young man, so much that she visits the camp and declares Christian she even would love him if he were not beautiful anymore, hurting Christian's feelings.

Just as Cyrano is about to confess Roxane his fraud, Christian is shot and he dies in Roxane's arms, content that Roxane really loves him.

Five years after, like always Cyrano visits Roxane in the convent where she has retired. This day his old enemies have mortally wounded him but he covers the wound with his hat. When Cyrano is once more reciting Christian's last letter and can do so from the head, Roxane discovers Cyrano was the true author of all of Christian's poetry and understands. It is too late. Cyrano dies reciting his lines.

In 1923, the film won an award at the Turin festival. Afterwards the whole film was stencil-coloured in Pathé-color, a version released only in 1925. It was this version that in 1999 was fully restored by Film Preservation Associates for ARTE, in collaboration with avid Shepard, and with post-production by Lobster. Kurt Kuenne composed new music, executed by the Olympia Chamber Orchestra led by Timothy Brock. Afterwards a DVD of Cirano di Bergerac was released by Absolute Medien, together with ARTE.

Cirano di Bergerac (1923)
Italian postcard. Photo: UCI. Publicity still for Cirano di Bergerac (Augusto Genina, 1923) with Linda Moglia as Roxane and Angelo Ferrari as Christian de Neuvillette. Caption: Roxane and Christian de Neuvillette marry.

Cirano di Bergerac (1923)
Italian postcard. Photo: UCI. Publicity still for Cirano di Bergerac (Augusto Genina, 1923) with Linda Moglia as Roxane and Pierre Magnier as Cyrano de Bergerac.

Cirano di Bergerac (1923)
Italian postcard. Photo: UCI. Publicity still for Cirano di Bergerac (Augusto Genina, 1923) with Pierre Magnier as Cyrano de Bergerac. Caption: During the siege of Arras, Cyrano writes to Roxane on behalf of Christian the most ardent words an enamoured heart could have suggested.

Cirano di Bergerac (1923)
Italian postcard. Photo: UCI. Publicity still for Cirano di Bergerac (Augusto Genina, 1923) with Pierre Magnier as Cyrano de Bergerac. Caption: Cyrano writes...

Cirano di Bergerac (1923)
Italian postcard. Photo: UCI. Publicity still for Cirano di Bergerac (Augusto Genina, 1923) with Linda Moglia as Roxane and Angelo Ferrari as Christian de Neuvillette. Caption: Defying danger, Roxane joins Christian at Arras, where he is camping with the soldiers.

Cirano di Bergerac (1923)
Italian postcard. Photo: UCI. Publicity still for Cirano di Bergerac (Augusto Genina, 1923) with Linda Moglia as Roxane and Pierre Magnier as Cyrano de Bergerac.

Cirano di Bergerac (1923)
Italian postcard. Photo: UCI. Publicity still for Cirano di Bergerac (Augusto Genina, 1923) with Linda Moglia as Roxane and Pierre Magnier as Cyrano de Bergerac. Caption: A few cronies of the Duke de Guiche have treacherously hit Cyrano. He still has the force to go to his beloved Roxane, and involuntarily he reveals his heroic sacrifice.

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

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