'Germinal'

Claude Berri's soaring 1993 film of the Emile Zola novel is an epic saga of the grinding existence of 19th-Century French coal miners. Gerard Depardieu plays a miner whose family suffers terrible consequences when it becomes involved in a strike. A worthy successor to Berri's "Jean de Florette" and "Manon of the Spring." Pictures don't get much bleaker than this 158-minute movie--but they don't get much more beautiful either. Also starring Miou-Miou (pictured) (TMC early Friday at 12:20 a.m.).

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