This film is French writer and director Claude Berri's passionate and epic screen interpretation of Emile Zola's 1885 novel about the terrible exploitation of miners in 19th century France.

Renaud stars as an educated machinist who convinces some hard-pressed workers to strike when their already meager wages are cut.

Gerard Depardieu and Miou-Miou, two of France's most acclaimed actors, star as members of a mining family who suffer greatly as a result of the strike.

Berri's heartfelt masterpiece cuts to the core of the primal emotions which animate class warfare and the yearning of oppressed individuals for justice. The anger of the have-nots against the luxuries of the privileged few depicted so vividly in Germinal reverberates into our times. The seeds of discontent have not vanished. They have just been replanted in different settings.