To the editors:
I must say, your film critic Mr. Henry Sheehan seems to know an awful lot about film criticism, but lacks a great deal in his skills of analyzing great plays.
In his review of Roxanne in your June 26 issue, he makes some comparisons between Roxanne and Cyrano de Bergerac, the play on which the film is based. Not once, but several times in the article, he cites Cyrano as being a “parody” that “mocked . . . chivalric pride.” He asserts that Cyrano, the man, was “lampooned” by his creator, suggesting that he was a clownish character. To express such moronic statements about a masterpiece such as Cyrano deserves at least a few lashes with a sabre.
Cyrano was written, as Mr. Sheehan notes, in a “materialistic, cynical, and cold” era. But Edmond Rostand did not intend his play to be viewed as a “send-up” of the earlier romantic ideals, but rather as a celebration of those ideals which had been lost. He, in fact, wrote the play with a specific actor in mind who loved to portray heroic figures.
Romance, bravery, chivalry, poetry, honor, and loyalty no longer had much meaning when the play was written and Rostand wished for some of it to be reborn.
Cyrano’s friends did not “laugh at” him, as the article states, but held him up as a hero, a well-loved soldier and poet, and a role model for all who knew him. It is a beautifully woven, lovingly written, tearfully tragic story of a man who battled the baseness and dishonor that surrounded him and it is a good thing he is not around today, or Mr. Sheehan may have to take to the hills.