French cinema recovers one of Balzac’s classics, ‘Eugénie Grandet’

Marc DugainFrench writer and filmmaker specializing in historical films, known for films such as “changing queens (2017), has now adapted “Eugénie Grandet” from the French classic Honoré de Balzac, a “visionary”, in his opinion, who always knew that women were “the future of Humanity”.

“Balzac was a genius,” says Dughain on the occasion of the release in Spanish theaters of this latest film, which revolves around the family of Felix Grandet, a stingy man who hides a colossal fortune while his daughter Eugénie lives in near poverty. and suffocated by social conventions.

“I am convinced that Balzac (1799-1850) was a visionary, all his work revolves around these analyzes of the future, his male characters have something ridiculous in their obsession with their small and petty interests, while the women are always magnified in his works. In this sense – says the French intellectual -, already at that time he sent that message that women are the future of Humanity, but on the condition that they do not want to replace them, or look like them”, he specifies.

Balzac published “Eugénie Grandet” in 1833. But, for Dughain, The work is a totally current social criticism that denounces the use of religion by an adult and powerful white man, Félix Grandet, who is also an atheist – he comes from the French Revolution and does not believe in God or in the Catholic Church -, but “he uses religion to dominate the women around him”.

“It is of an absolute machismo -Dughain emphasizes-, he not only has an indisputable authority, but he uses God, a God who is the God of the macho, since he is a God-man. It is a terrifying way to marginalize women in society, locking them in the boredom of everyday life, since they can’t do anything and their only distraction -the mother says- is going to church. And that continues to happen in many parts of the world”, warns .

Grandet (magnificent Oliver Gourmet), is a retired cooper who made business taking advantage of the instability of the time. In addition, he combined the inheritances of his mother, father-in-law and mother-in-law in the same year, but he makes his wife believe (Valerie Bonneton), to his daughter Eugénie (Josephine Japy), and the servant Nanon (Nathalie Bécue) who are poor and cannot fix the dilapidated house in which they live. But Eugénie rebels out of love.

“I have always been fascinated to know how life was lived before and, working on my books and films – he points out -, I realized the great gap that existed between the enormous technological advance of today and the progress that is so weak from the intellectual and moral point of view”.

What attracts Dughain the most about Balzac is “his way of doing sociology of the human condition through the characters, who are also very well described.”

The director hopes that the Spanish public will catch a glimpse of the “greatness of Balzac”. “It really is an ambition, it is difficult to know if it will be achieved, but one of the messages that I have wanted to take up -beyond the treatment of women- is the use of religion to end spirituality and the relationship between men and women. nature and with its environment.

“This is extremely serious, because what Humanity is going to experience in the next 50 years is the result of all this,” he predicts.

His next film will be located in the reign of Louis XIV, a police intrigue that revolves -again- around the condition of women in the 17th century.

“If one does not have the culture of the past, it is very difficult to understand the present and project into the future,” he considers.

French cinema recovers one of Balzac’s classics, ‘Eugénie Grandet’