Germinal (1993)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  31 March 1994 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 3,353 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 8 critic

In mid-nineteenth-century northern France, a coal mining town's workers are exploited by the mine's owner. One day, they decide to go on strike, and the authorities repress them.


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2 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Renaud ...
Étienne Lantier
Judith Henry ...
Jean-Roger Milo ...
Laurent Terzieff ...
Bernard Fresson ...
Victor Deneulin
Jean-Pierre Bisson ...
Jacques Dacqmine ...
Philippe Hennebeau
Anny Duperey ...
Madame Hennebeau
Gérard Croce ...
Annick Alane ...
Madame Grégoire
Pierre Lafont ...
Léon Grégoire


It's mid 19th century, north of France. The story of a coal miner's town. They are exploited by the mine's owner. One day the decide to go on strike, and then the authorities repress them Written by Michel Rudoy <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

mine owner | mine | coal | strike | worker | See All (153) »


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for intense depiction of suffering and class conflict | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |


Release Date:

31 March 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Germinal  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


FRF 164,000,000 (estimated)


$378,854 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Finnish censorship visa # V-02591. See more »


Near the end of the film, when Etienne and Catherine are looking for the way out of the mine, we see the shadows of the lamps on the right wall of the tunnel. It's to be supposed that the only light inside the mine came from the lamps. See more »


Coal mine owner: A strike is a disaster for everyone. Within a week you'll all starve. Then what will you do?
See more »


Referenced in ...And They Lived Happily Ever After (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

a difficult task
22 August 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Reducing Zola's masterful but monstrously long novel to a movie is the problem that Claude Berri does not seem to have resolved. He sticks close to Zola's text, which means that we get lots of undeveloped snippets of what were very developed scenes in the novel. If you don't know the novel, this probably causes a certain sense of confusion. If you do know the novel, and it is well-known in France, you have the sense that you are just skimming the surface. I think that Berri would have done better to be less faithful to the novel, or at least less comprehensive in his adaptation of it.

That said, there are most certainly good things in this movie. Miou Miou delivers, in my opinion, the movie's best performance. No, she is not at all the earth mother that Zola's la Meheude is. But she acts with her face, saying far more with a facial gesture than many words would have said. In a movie that skims over a lot of material, that makes for very effective acting. Depardieu is sometimes very good - physically he is perfect for the part of le Maheu - sometimes he seems to deliver the lines without thinking about them. The actor who plays Souvarine is very striking.

The cinematography is nice, but does not convey a lot of what Zola emphasizes in the novel: the heat and lack of space in the mine tunnels, etc.

A good movie if you haven't read the novel; a disappointing one if you have.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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