The other night, the boyfriend and I came upon a documentary about a group of French high schoolers who were selected to put on a performance of "Romeo and Juliet" in one of Paris' most prestigious theaters.
Hearing the play performed in French, I realized once again how much Shakespeare's words enhance the experience. Though I've seen several movies based on the play, and at least one live performance, I've never found "Romeo and Juliet" to be particularly romantic. Beautiful, yes, for the script. But the love story just never really grabbed me.
The boyfriend feels the same.
When I asked him what he considered the most romantic play/movie - heck, let's just say love story in general - we both came up with Edmond Rostand's "Cyrano de Bergerac".
I first discovered this play on the PBS show "Wishbone" when I was a teenager (yes, that might be a little old to watch "Wishbone", but it involved literature and a costume-wearing dog, so there was no possible way I could resist).
Animals in clothes make just about everything more delightful. (image source)
I was so intrigued by the tale of this brilliant, passionate, poetic soul whose physical appearance (namely, a surprisingly long nose) made it impossible for him to be considered worthy of romantic love - or at least, that's how it seemed to him - that I went out and bought a copy of the original play.
The Signet Classic edition. The image on the cover is from the first performance of the play, in 1897. (image source)
In "Cyrano", not only did I find a beautifully written love story - I found one I could relate to. Although I'd had boyfriends in high school, I also had an unrequited love story of my own: There was one boy who was a dear friend of mine, a fellow writer... We could talk about anything, all of our strange common interests. We collaborated on creative projects. When we were in classes together, we sat near each other and whispered back and forth the entire time. And he was handsome. If I was making a movie about the Greek gods, he'd be Apollo. I, on the other hand, was short, chubby, and plain - not the sort of girl you'd find on the arm of a god. The years went by, our friendship got deeper, but I was never asked to go to prom or on a date - that was a privilege reserved for some of the most beautiful girls in the school.
The boyfriend also had his flirtations and dates growing up, but shyness held him back from ever confessing his feelings to girls he really had feelings for. Sometimes even if they not-so-subtly let him know they were interested.
I think one of the reasons we love "Cyrano de Bergerac" so much is because Monsieur de Bergerac represents a character we could relate to when we first forayed into love. Not for us the woeful tale of two beautiful, star-crossed teenagers. Cyrano's story was - and is - much easier to identify with. In fact, I find that the fictional romances that move me most tend to involve misfits: "Beauty and the Beast", Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey, "Run Lola Run", "Edward Scissorhands".
The real Cyrano de Bergerac, a writer who lived from 1619-1655 and did have a somewhat big nose, though nothing like what the play suggests - and his tragic love story wasn't exactly the same as what's portrayed in Edmond Rostand's play, either. (image source)
Do you have an ultimate, go-to fictional romantic story (in any format - movie, play, song, book, etc...)in your life? What is it, and why?