Peter Dinklage leads the musical “Cyrano” to the screen

Updated: May 27


4K ULTRA HD & BLU-RAY REVIEW / HDR & SDR FRAME SHOTS

Differences in color grading between 4K Ultra HD (digital) & Blu-ray. Peter Dinklage plays Cyrano de Bergerac, a master swordsman and wordsmith in the musical/drama “Cyrano.” His wife, Erica Schmidt, wrote the off-Broadway show and the screen adaptation.


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“CYRANO”

4K Ultra HD (digital), Blu-ray, DVD, Digital copy; 2021; Rated PG-13 for strong violence, thematic and suggestive material, and brief profanity; streaming via Amazon Prime Video (4K), Apple/iTunes (4K), Vudu (4K)


Best extra: One, “An Epic Adventure: The Making of Cyrano”





DIRECTOR JOE WRIGHT'S “Cyrano,” based on Erica Schmidt’s 2018 musical version of “Cyrano de Bergerac" inspired by Edmund Rostand's 1897 verse play, stars Peter Dinklage as the ferocious swordsman/poet.

Best choice ever!

In plot and tone, the film doesn’t vary significantly from Rostand’s play. Neither does having so much of the rich dialogue set to music. “Cyrano," gorgeously shot by cinematographer Seamus McGarvey (“Atonement” 2007, “Anna Karenina” 2012, “The Greatest Showman”) is really a celebration of words. Cyrano de Bergerac is a master swordsman and wordsmith. But in this version, rather than a prominent proboscis, his short stature is the subject that no one – who wants to live – should mention.

Cyrano’s one weak spot is his unrequited and unspoken love for Roxanne, an orphaned and penniless beauty played by Haley Bennett. Her intellect is a match for his own. Sadly, Cyrano feels inadequate because of his size, and despite all his talents can’t tell her how he feels. Yes - he is in a hopelessly/hopeful friend-locked position just waiting for the right moment. Of course, early on in the first part of the film, Roxanne sets eyes on the handsome Christian Neuvillette (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and is hopelessly smitten. Unfortunately, for all his good looks and loving nature, poor Christian cannot put three words together in any sort of coherent form.


(1&2) 4K Ultra HD digital & Blu-ray show the beautiful Roxanne (Haley Bennett) being wooed by a wealthy villain, Duke De Guiche (Ben Mendelsohn). (2&3) On the way to the theater, handsome Christian Neuvillette (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) spots Roxanne through the carriage window. (4) Roxanne and the Duke arrive at the theater.




But Roxanne tells her dearest friend Cyrano about the new love of her life, and he is compelled to help his rival woo the woman HE loves. Meanwhile, the creepy Comte De Guiche, played by a splendidly nasty Ben Mendelsohn, is sniffing around Roxanne, plotting, planning – hiring the odd assassins ...

There have been more than 30 stage adaptations of Rostand’s play, and well over 20 filmed versions and variations. To my mind, the 1950 version with Jose Ferrer’s Oscar-winning performance is certainly one of the best, along with 1987's “Roxanne" with Steve Martin and Darryl Hannah. Screenwriter Schmidt is married to Dinklage and originally wrote “Cyrano” for the off-Broadway show with Dinklage and Bennett in the lead roles and opened at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut.

The music isn’t particularly obtrusive, giving the film a sort of light opera feel. “Wherever I Fall,” in which De Bergerac’s squad prepares for battle, is especially memorable. Music was written by brothers Bryce and Aaron Dessner of the rock band The National, and lyrics by the band’s frontman Matt Berninger.

I'll give no spoilers here, but the viewer would be advised to keep a box of tissues handy for the last quarter of the film.


(1) The crowd gathers to watch the great Thespian Montfleury (Mark Benton) on stage, but Cyrano considers him a hack. He has sent the singer/actor a letter demanding he retire. Montfleury tells the audience, “I’m a professional actor and performed at court for the King himself.” (2&3) Roxanne is amused by Cyrano and his ability to eject Montfleury from the stage. (4) Valvert (Joshua James) challenges Cyrano to a duel. (5) 4K Ultra HD (digital) & Blu-ray. It doesn’t go well for Valvert.




VIDEO

As noted, the picture looks fantastic. Captured on Arri Alexa 4.5K digital cameras in 2.35:1 aspect, but only mastered in 2K, while the 4K Ultra HD digital version has a code to upload on Apple/iTunes. That’s sad since we all know the physical disc provides a better picture and sound.

The 4K digital has a wider color gamut, producing a more natural and more intense palette, and is toned darker. But overall, its clarity is reduced because of streaming compression and parameters, creating a softer picture than the Blu-ray.


Formatting on 1080p – which looks stunning – had to be a cost saver. Completed in 2021, the film debuted in September at the 48th annual Telluride Film Festival, going on to a one-week theatrical run in December to qualify for the Academy Awards. The national and international release arrived in February 2022, with little promo. It was a box office disappointment grossing $6.4 million against a $30 million budget despite good reviews: Critics, 85-percent, and Viewers 86-percent at Rottentomatoes.com.


Filmed in Italy, the visuals have a painterly quality reminiscent of classic fairytale illustrators Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac. Save for the frosty blue, pre-battle camp sequence with its bedraggled soldiers filmed at Mount Etna, Sicily, most scenes have a warm and dreamy peach-toned intensity. Even so, no detail is lost on costumes or sets, and complexions are realistic. The opening sequence takes place in a theater in which Cyrano proves himself a masterful critic of the arts. It introduces all the main characters, and the play’s fatal consequence – pride.


(1) Cyrano speaks of his true feelings with his best friend Le Bret (Bashir Salahuddin). (2&3) Cyrano contemplates writing a letter to his rosy-cheeked love. (4) Bakery workers perform a dance with fresh bread. (5&6) 4K Ultra HD (digital) & Blu-ray - Roxanne requests a special meeting with Cyrano. He hopes she’s going to tell him she loves him, but confesses her love for Christian instead.





AUDIO

A 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track accompanies McGarvey’s superb photography. The immersive quality blends dialogue, songs, and effects from sword and back-alley fights to gunshots – to its best potential. It delivers all around the room. The Digital provides an eight-channel Dolby Atmos soundtrack with effects and music cues to height speakers.


EXTRAS

There’s only one – “An Epic Adventure: The Making of Cyrano,” a PR piece featuring interviews with the director and stars. It’s a nice, informative post-film watch, but won’t strain any brain cells.


Dinklage and co-stars Bennett, Harrison Jr., and Mendelsohn carry this romantic-historic musical very well. “Cyrano” is easy to like, and deserving of a bigger audience.


— Mike Reynolds and Kay Reynolds


(1) Cyrano volunteers to write intelligent love letters for Christian, saying, “I will make you eloquent, while you make me handsome.” (2&3) The Castello Maniace, a citadel and castle in Syracuse, Sicily, was used for the cadet barracks, and the musical number “Someone to Say.” (4) Cyrano hands Christian the first of many letters, telling him he only needs to sign it. (5-7) The letter is slipped under Roxanne’s door and she begins singing “Every Letter,” as Christian and Cyrano join in.



“Every letter makes me lose my reason

Every word is like your kindest touch

And if I told you how much I need you

Would you give me yourself or turn and run?”


 



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