- 2 hr 40 min
Germinal is a French film based upon a novel by Emile Zola. The screenplay was written by Arlette Langmann and Claude Berri, who also directed. The film features Renaud, Miou-Miou and Gerard Depardieu. The movie is set during the nineteenth century and follows the realistic depiction of the northern France coal miner strike. The story revolves around the Maheu family, living in squalid and crowded conditions in a cold and dark cottage near the mines. The whole family earns a living doing backbreaking coal mining work. In fact, the mother indicates that the only reason to even have children is so that they can work and contribute to the income of the family. The wages are calculated just enough to barely support their lives so they can continue to work and not much else. As such, the miners are incapable of gathering enough to leave the area in search of other, less brutal work. Thus, they are trapped between an impossible reality of starvation and servitude. Their daily lives are led by Maheu (played by Gerard Depardieu) and his wife (played by Miou Miou). Daughter Catherine (played by Judith Henry) also toils away at the mines. Etienne Lantier (played by Renaud) is from the district and seeks work. He winds up spearheading and organizing for the formation of a union. He becomes attracted to Catherine and she to him, but they don’t get together. Instead, she leaves to live with a local brute called Chaval (played by Jean-Roger Milo), seemingly to get free of the hard and dreary life she lives. When the film was made in France, it was the most costly ever produced there and was also the most attended film of that year. The movie also won for Best Cinematography and Costume Design at the Cesar Awards. It was also nominated for Best Director, Film, Supporting Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, Writing, Sound, Editing, Music and Production Design.