Balzac: A Passionate Life
Release Date
13 September 1999

Balzac: A Passionate Life (1999)

PG-13 · 4h · Biography, Drama, Romance
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 married Polish woman living in Russia. At first she and Balzac simply have a passionate exchange of correspondence, but then they meet each other for the first time in Switzerland. On his return to Paris, Balzac is mortified to learn of the death of Madame de Berny. It comes as all the more of a shock to him because she was the only person who loved him as a man, rather than as a literary idol. Balzac then has a series of unlucky experiences in his work too: whatever he tries to do it always turns out to be a naive and unrealistic dream. Even though his new works are being well received socially, and do start to bring him a small income, Balzac's financial situation becomes ever more desperate because of his dissolute and excessive lifestyle. When Eve Hanska's husband dies, Balzac finally wants to fulfill his greatest wish, and marry the woman he has loved for so many years. Eve has a miscarriage and loses their child. Balzac is totally shaken by this event, while Eve is strangely unconcerned. Does she, too, only love him for his artistic reputation? The long-awaited marriage does finally take place in Russia, after years of delay - but Balzac doesn't have long to enjoy marital bliss. He goes blind, and dies a slow and agonizing death just four months later. His friend Victor Hugo is the only person to remain by his side until the very end... - Written by Anonymous
6.8/10
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