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Balzac: A Passionate Life (1999)

Balzac (original title)
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 ... See full summary »


Josée Dayan


Didier Decoin

On Disc

at Amazon




Cast overview, first billed only:
Gérard Depardieu ... Honoré de Balzac
Jeanne Moreau ... Charlotte-Laure
Fanny Ardant ... Eve Hanska
Virna Lisi ... Madame de Berny
Katja Riemann ... Laure d'Abrantès
Claude Rich ... Maitre Plissoud
Gert Voss ... Victor Hugo
Sergio Rubini ... Eugene Sue
François Marthouret François Marthouret ... Docteur Nacquart
Marianne Denicourt ... Adèle Hugo
Gottfried John ... Count Hanska
Pascal Vannson Pascal Vannson ... Paradis
Hervé Briaux Hervé Briaux ... Charles Sedillot
Didier Lesour Didier Lesour ... Surveillant Bossu
Enguerran Demeulenaere Enguerran Demeulenaere ... Balzac Enfant


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 Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He burned with ambition. He lived for passion.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some sensuality and brief partial nudity | See all certifications »



France | Italy | Germany



Release Date:

23 October 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Balzac: A Life of Passion See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(2 parts) | | (4 episodes)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Loved Gerard, but not the character he played
7 November 2000 | by Missy CSee all my reviews

I love Gerard Depardieu. The man works ALL the time, and he is one of the most gifted actors in the history of cinema and theatre. However, I just couldn't watch all of this mini-series. It was too painful. Yes, geniuses and artists can be difficult to live with--as Picasso's many wives and mistresses can attest. But Balzac just seemed to be a JERK! I know that some of it he couldn't help--such as having a mother who blew hot and cold (mostly cold)--but everyone here either was a manipulator or an enabler. Balzac's behavior was like that of an alcoholic or compulsive gambler: so sure that this time things were really going to come together, and wheedling people out of desperation, promising the moon and the stars, only to revert back to his old ways when yet another crisis was averted. Having lived with a man like him more than a decade ago, this one brought back too many bad memories for me to finish it on the second night, when I hear that Fanny Ardent gave a memorable performance. I tried to tell myself, "this is Gerard playing a character," but in this case, he almost succeeded too well.

To the producers' credit, the set, costumes, and photography were beautiful. And I did think it was a very clever "inside joke" for them to include dialogue about Balzac's book "Colonel Chabert"--which was made into a movie starring Mr. Depardieu several years ago. It's just that Balzac, unlike Edmond Dantesor or even Georges from "Green Card," is just not at all the type of character I could muster up any sympathy or empathy for. It will not stop me from seeing what Gerard and Josee Dayan do next. I'm looking forward to Les Miserables already:)

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