Cyrano de Bergerac is a play that was written by Edmond Rostand in 1897. The play was based on the life of the real novelist Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac; a charming, swashbuckling, quick tongued man with an unfortunately large nose that shattered his self-esteem. That is as far as the truth goes within the play; the rest came from the imagination of Rostand in the format of rhyming couplets and daring dramatics.
Our hero (Cyrano) has all the qualities to woo a young lady, except one, beauty. Whereas, his friend Christian is the opposite, lacking in intellect and exceeding in looks. They both pine for the beautiful and intelligent Roxanne. But alas, Roxanne has been taken in by Christians chiselled jawline and says she’ll ‘just die!’ if he doesn’t have the brains as well as the brawn. Cyrano endeavours to help his love and his friend, so he writes to Roxanne pretending to be Christian. Tragedy ensues.
There have been many retellings, adaptions, and uses of the classic tropes found in the play within pop culture, including the new adaption staring Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, and Kelvin Harrison Jr. Cyrano, set to be released on the 24th of February. We have the perfect list of films and books to get you ready for Cyrano on the big screen.
Here are some of my favourites!
This is a classic Steve Martin comedy which expertly uses the original ‘flaw’ of Cyrano’s big nose for comedic effect. The astrophysicist Roxanne falls for the handsome (yet brainless) Chris, while Charlie (Steve Martin) must use his poetic expertise and pining love to fool Roxanne into believing that Chris is the man for her. The film oozes with 80’s nostalgia and is known for the hilarious insult scene. This adaption has a happy ending for Charlie and many laughs along the way. I hadn’t seen this one since I was a teenager, but it holds up!
Whatever It Takes (2000)
We’re taking it back to the early 2000’s with this teen comedy that uses the main trope of Cyrano de Bergerac but with a twist. Our Cyrano, Ryan, is none other than teen heartthrob Shane West, so looks are not the problem for our poet in this tale. Ryan, a ‘geek’, pines for the school’s popular mean girl, while airheaded jock, Chris, is after Ryan’s childhood friend Maggie. The boys strike a deal, Chris will help Ryan win over the beautiful but vapid Ashley, if Ryan helps him get with intellectual Maggie. This film mixes the classic Cyrano trope of the love sick ghost writer, with the ‘I was in love with you but didn’t know it’ trope, to give us this teen comedy that will make you glad you aren’t a teenager anymore.
Sierra Burgess is a Loser (2018)
This gender bending retelling of Cyrano had me yelling at the TV ‘Just tell him you love him!’, which I’m sure is a normal reaction. Sierra Burgess is a creative, intelligent, nerdy girl who has insecurities about her weight and looks which prevent her from living her best life. Cut to nasty popular girl Veronica who is asked out by handsome Jamey. Veronica gives Jamey her phone number when he asks for it, but in reality, it is Sierra’s. Letter writing is swapped out for texting and emoji’s (can’t put a wax seal on your phone), and Jamey begins to fall in love with Sierra, thinking the entire time that it’s Veronica. This one made me cringe and swoon, plus it has a really sweet original song!
The Half of It (2020)
Not only does this film swap the genders of the original trio, but it gives us queer and Asian American representation! Ellie Chu is a smart and quiet girl who takes care of her father amid his struggles with mental health and assimilation into American culture. Paul is the ineloquent jock who yearns for gorgeous and thoughtful Aster. Ellie agrees to write Paul’s love letters for him, she does it for the cash but ends up staying for love. Aster becomes the object of both their affection, all while Ellie must come to terms with her own sexual identity, and keep her secret from Paul. I really liked this one and I think you will too.
A Tale of Two Christmas Letters by Cathy Gillen Thacker
If you’re looking for romance that begins with letters that profess secret longings, in the fashion of our beloved Cyrano, then look no further than this heart-warming Christmas tale of love and friendship.
Will a single dad and three little girls fulfill her secret Christmas wish?
Rehab nurse Bess Monroe is mortified that she accidentally sent the wrong Christmas letter to her boss! And so now Jack McCabe, widowed surgeon and father of three little girls, offers his friendship to get through the holidays. But their pact soon turns into something more. Can a woman who’s been burned by love open her heart to Jack for the holidays — and maybe forever?
The Perfect Fake Date by Naima Simone
Similar to our original trio, this story features a messy love triangle led by deceit.
‘It’s just a kiss, Eve…I’m only holding up my end of the bargain.’
As the secret son of Boston’s wealthiest, cold-hearted billionaire, Kenan Rhodes knows that everyone is watching him when he stakes his family claim. Proving himself won’t be easy and he needs backup. So Kenan makes a deal with his best friend, lingerie designer Eve Burke. She’ll help him professionally, and he’ll help Eve catch his brother’s eye. But soon Kenan wants his gorgeous best friend for himself, crossing that line between fake dates and something dangerously irresistible…
The Unworthy Duke by Charlotte Anne
This tale takes the classic Cyrano trope ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ and puts a regency spin on it.
‘Secrets and scars that run deep … a delightful Regency twist on Beauty and the Beast!’ –Alison Stuart, author of The Postmistress
She’s running from her past; he’s hiding from his.
Miss Ellen Burney doesn’t have a penny to her name. Determined to escape scandal, she flees to London and becomes Miss Smith: spinster and lady’s companion. London offers security in anonymity. So long as Ellen can rein in her overactive imagination and become the perfect picture of propriety.
Calum Callaghan spent ten years in the Royal Navy fighting Napoleon and has the scars to prove it. Now he’s a duke, but all of London thinks he murdered his brother. Heartbroken and battle weary, he’s locked himself away for four long years, a prisoner in his own townhouse.
That is, until Cal’s grandmother comes to stay with him for the London Season, her new lady’s companion in tow. A lady’s companion with a passion for life and love that can hardly be contained by even the most spinsterish of lace caps. She’s fooling nobody, especially not this grumpy duke.
Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey
Friends to lovers is one of the sweetest tropes there is! the gradual realisation of love and the risky outcome gets my heart pumping, much like the relationship between Cyrano and Roxanne.
King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he’s a guaranteed good time—in bed and out—and that’s exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She’s immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his… personality And wants to be friends Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is.
Now, Hannah’s in town for work, crashing in Fox’s spare bedroom. She knows he’s a notorious ladies’ man, but they’re definitely just friends… yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can’t deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost.
Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she’s walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and… and… man overboard! He’s fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he’s all in, she’ll choose him instead