Honoré de Balzac was a man who lived to write. His life was a hard, permanent struggle, from his cold relationship with his mother who was unable to give him the love he needed, to his ...
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The scene is set during the French Restoration at the beginning of the 19th century. Jean Valjean, a galley slave who was sent to prison for stealing food, is now released after serving ... See full summary »
Honoré de Balzac was a man who lived to write. His life was a hard, permanent struggle, from his cold relationship with his mother who was unable to give him the love he needed, to his unsuccessful attempts to make money out of printing and publishing books. Balzac never gives up, however - even though his dissolute lifestyle keeps landing him in trouble with his creditors. To finally gain acclaim for his works and to earn enough money to survive, Balzac works like a man possessed, day and night, to the brink of exhaustion, drinking liter upon liter of coffee to keep himself awake. The passionate author also tends to go to excess in affairs of the heart - he has several woman friends at the same time, all of them very different from each other. They include the kind, caring and elderly Madame de Berny, and the egotistical, ambitious Laure d'Abrantès, who introduces Balzac to the salons of upper-class society. Balzac's heart belong to just one person alone, however: Eve Hanska, a ...Written by
Tremendous casting blunder mars otherwise decent production
It has been a few years since I saw this film on A&E (I believe). Being a Balzac aficionado and having read a couple of biographies I was quite interested in a biopic treatment of this fascinating individual. The advance advertisement with a naked faced Gerard Depardieu dampened my enthusiasm. When I finally saw it I couldn't believe how a great opportunity could be blown in such a monumental way. The screenplay was actually fairly decent as I recall and stuck fairly close to the facts as I understood them. However, the desire for a major star in the lead role, while in itself not a bad thing, led to a major blot in this production's effectiveness. Gerard Depardieu is about as far from Honore de Balzac as Robert De Niro is from Mark Twain. He is large and tall and there was no attempt to add any facial hair, which Balzac had in every painting as well as the famous daguerreotype. This casting misfire belongs right up there with Hugh O'Brien as Wyatt Earp and John Wayne as Genghis Khan. I'm sure there must be other decent French actors who look, or could look with a little makeup, at least somewhat like Balzac. This is too bad. Who knows when an attempt like this will ever be made again?
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