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SCREEN STYLE

Love Wins by a Nose

January 11, 1991|SUE MARTIN

THE FILM: "Cyrano de Bergerac" (Orion Classics: subtitled)

THE STORY: The film is based on the romantic play by Edmond Rostand. Cyrano de Bergerac (Gerard Depardieu), an eloquent man whose soul is even bigger than his enormous nose, loves his cousin Roxanne (Anne Brochet) but she loves (and is loved by) a pretty, but tongue-tied baron, Christian de Neuvillete (Vincent Perez). The sublime Cyrano pours out his own love for Roxanne by writing love letters and glorious, romantic speeches for the awkward Christian. Although tragedy strikes the trio, all the wayward hearts are satisfied and True Love shines forth.

THE LOOK: Quelle vision romantique! Like the language of the play, the costumes are a parade of early Cavalier style. They reflect a time when romance was not only in the word, but in the artful use of capes and courtly flourishes with plumed hats. Costume designer Franca Squarciapino didn't want this to be "another banal swashbuckler." This was her first film effort, (her previous work has been in the theater). And though the period is very specific (1635-40), she fudged a little, she said, "because you have to put a little poetry in the clothes." She used the predominant fabrics of that era--silks, linens, velvets and leather. Preferring to do her own dyeing, she made the palette of soft pastels for the principal actors and accented it with floppy lace collars and cuffs and embroidery. The women wear mostly square and off-the-shoulder necklines, pointed or square lace collars accenting the stiff, corseted bodices worn over skirts of flowing ankle-length silk or velvet.

For contrast, the townspeople wear robust earth tones, greens, browns and russets in their simple jackets, pants, dresses and cloaks. Depardieu, said by Squarciapino to know "how to use a costume very well," wore sober teal, blue-grays and browns, sleeved doublets with wide skirts, large baggy pants tucked into floppy calf high brown boots, and set off with flowing capes. It's all topped off by a large, plumed felt hat, cocked to the side of his head. For Cyrano, the words made the man.

THE LABELS: Squarciapino designed all the principal actors costumes, using the Atelier du Costume in Paris, and Morani's in Rome for the military costumes. Some of the extras costumes were borrowed from Tirelli's, also in Rome. Much of the lace was found in European flea markets.

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