(continued from the previous post)
One of the departures both recent comedies make from Edmond Rostand's original play is that in each case, the Christian character -- Rick Rossovich's Chris in Roxanne and Uma Thurman's Noelle in TTACAD -- is depicted as not nearly as ardent in their passion for the protagonist's inamorata. In the original, Christian was sincerely in love with Roxanne; he lacked Cyrano's ability to express it -- indeed, any ability whatever -- but his feelings were genuine. I think that's why in the second act, when Christian realizes that Cyrano really does love Roxanne and that she probably loves Cyrano, not him, he rushes off to die gloriously in battle. Cyrano recognizes this, and eases his passing by telling him that he, Cyrano, had confessed to Roxanne, and that she loves Christian after all, and further, keeps pretending that's so for the rest of his life. By contrast, in both the later comedies, the rival is ultimately willing to step aside, for various reasons I'll explore later.
There's also a subtext in the two movies about fidelity, and the propriety of pursuing someone you know should be with someone else. In Roxanne, Rossovich's character Chris never quite seems to realize that Martin's C.D. Bales loves Roxanne too. I think this lack of realization leads to one of the most stark contrasts among all the films -- Roxanne's window scene, in which C.D. (following in Cyrano's footsteps) woos Roxanne, only to have Chris be the one to climb up to her bedroom. (In a very funny and human moment, C.D. is alternately elated and horrified to realize that he's successfully charmed Roxanne into bed by proxy.) I was frankly astonished about how the physical relationship between Chris and Roxanne is ultimately treated as No Big Deal by everyone involved. Ah, the '80s...simpler times.
(continued in the next post)