Lovers of 19th-century French literature and contemporary French cinema will probably get the most out of this 210-minute march through the sensual life of Honoré de Balzac. Those not familiar with the work of this spectac... more »ularly prolific writer might be disappointed, since this biopic only touches on the great works in a cursory way. Several times throughout the narrative, the great author hears a few sentences, gets a faraway look in his eyes, and says, "You know, that would make a great story..." before dashing offscreen to his study, presumably to deliver yet another masterpiece. This French-made small-screen production is dominated by the charismatic presence of Gerard Depardieu, who taxes his skills to seem as spectacularly fat and physically unattractive as the legendary writer and lover of women. Practically all the actual lovemaking takes place offscreen; onscreen, impassioned oration is the order of the day. Depardieu is almost matched monologue for monologue by an even greater French star, Jeanne Moreau, who plays his brooding, eternally unsatisfied mother with an unchanging icy grandeur. Ridicule's Fanny Ardant shows a far greater development of character as Countess Eve Hanska, the indecisive Russian noblewoman who steals Balzac's heart and inspires his greatest work--while footing the bill for the excesses of his grandiose lifestyle. --Grant Balfour« less
Why would you ever DUB OVER Gerard Depardieu???/This version
C. P. Wilson | Seattle, WA United States | 04/30/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"GREAT STORY/GREAT FILM/HORRIBLE edtion. GET THE PREVIOUS VERSION/THIS ONE HAS A REALLY REALLY REALLY BAD ENGLISH VOICE-OVER DUB...So bad it hurts!!! I rented this version of Balzac from the video store tonight originally thinking it was the only version. I, like the other reviewers here, was horrified to find Gerard Depardieu's voice being dubbed over by someone who sounded like "Daddy Seaver" on the horribly cheesy 80's sitcom Growing Pains. It had the same screachingly criminal effect as, say dubbing over Laurence Olivier in "Wuthering Heights" with the 'hey dude' voices/tones found in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. I immediately called the video store back to find out if there was another version of the same film (preferrably one IN FRENCH with English subtitles) WHICH THERE WAS. They exchanged it with no hassle. Now I can sit down and enjoy what looks to be a great film of one of the most exemplary literary figures in French history. Don't waste your time with this newly released in Lion's Gate 2006/2007 version. Get the older 1999/2000 Fox Lorber/Bravo version!"
What a load of horrible overdubbing.
R. Bourgeois | French La.. | 02/10/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"There is no French soundtrack on this DVD to go with the legendary French actors. There is just an English subtitle with HORRIBLE english overdubbing. The voices are woefully miscast, even worse if you are familiar with the famous French actors true voices. And the Foley work is just amateurish. It was a total distraction throughout the whole 3 hours. Absolutely a waste, with little entertainment value. Stay clear and try to find a version with original dialogue (and English subtitles if necessary)."
My dog could have dubbed this better.
Audio | Berkshires, MA | 05/12/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Amazon's product description reads: Language: English, French - which is false and misleading because there is no French to be found anywhere on this DVD.
Listening to the masterful delivery of Gerard Depardieu (one of the finest voices in in current cinema) being smothered by voiceovers less expert than a low budget kung-fu film was painful to experience. Amazon would be doing future misguided purchasers of this DVD a favor if they removed this dubbed version from the site.
However, if you're having trouble with the badly dubbed english your other option, the only one, is to enable the english subtitles and turn the sound off altogehter. What genius was up all night thinking of that one?
The distributors must have anticipated the limits of viewers' endurance but did not have the budget or energy left to give us the option of the original french audio version. Obviously it's stressful packaging foreign productions like this for american audiences and we trust the inclusion of subtitles didn't cause too much lack of sleep.
The main lesson learned is read reviews when purchasing foreign films. It is not beyond a distributors capacity to ruin fine productions such as this one.
If there must be dubbing for brilliant foreign actors I propose a new rule: only brilliant English actors can be used. I guarantee you Balzac did not sound like a bad actor flubbing a soap-opera audition."
"When I first saw the movie I was hooked on the spot.The cast and the acting was good along with the sets and camerawork.Jeanne Moreau and Gerard Depardieu are a perfect match as mother and son in the film.But I wanted to see more of Jeanne Moreau in the film and want to see more highs and lows in the mother-son relationship.The scene which nearly made me cry was Moreau's character at the door asking for her son's forgiveness.Give Jeanne Moreau a good script and she will give you your money's work."
For the wont of a Mother's love;how one's life is affected
KerrLines | Baltimore,MD | 03/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Can a three hour miniseries do justice to one of the most prolific French authors ever? No, but this one does sweep through Balzac's life and hits the high points enough to make one want to read or know more.If there is one central theme to this entire series it is this:the little boy in Balzac NEVER got over the simple fact that his Mother never loved him.Everything he did,touched,wrote was colored by his cold abandonment of his Mother.With that in mind,watch this sweeping biopic masterfully executed by the likes of Gerard Depardieu,Jeanne Moreau and Fanny Ardent and be transported into a very accurate portrayal of the times that the likes of Balzac,Hugo,Sand and Sue lived and wrote.EXCELLENT COMPANION FILMS would be COLONEL CHABERT and COUSIN BETTE (both adapted from Balzac) and LES MISERABLES (by Victor Hugo) and IMPROMPTU (about Georges Sand and Chopin) to help fill in the spaces in that period of history. DO NOT PURCHASE THE ENGLISH DUBBED VERSION!!!! Stick to the original.It is VERY accessible and readable on VHS or DVD."