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Critic's Pick

'Germinal'

June 23, 1996|Kevin Thomas

Claude Berri's magnificent 1993 film of Emile Zola's novel cuts right to the movies' power of rendering human misery with images of surpassing grandeur and meaning. Pictures don't get much bleaker than this 158-minute epic saga of the grinding existence of 19th-century French coal miners--but they don't get much more beautiful either. Berri and his formidable yet understated cinematographer, Yves Angelo, aided by Jean-Louis Roque's subtle yet stirring score, bring a majestic lyricism to their contrasting views of the few ultra-rich and the many desperately poor. Gerard Depardieu (pictured) plays a miner whose family suffers terrible consequences when it becomes involved in a strike. With Renaud, Miou-Miou, Jean Carmet, Judith Henry and Jean-Roger Milo (TMC Thursday at 12:25 a.m.).

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