Since Wednesday, October 27, France 2 has been broadcasting episodes of the French series “Germinal”, adapted from the eponymous novel by the famous Émile Zola. Directing, casting, budget and shooting, DashFUN tells you more about the production of this exceptional fiction.
Germinal : a new adaptation
Germinal is first of all a work written by the famous Emile Zola and published in 1885. He painted the portrait ofa French company split in two. Indeed, two social classes clash, on the one hand, the privileged and on the other, the most deprived. The novel has undergone several adaptations, the most famous being that of the filmmaker Claude Berri released in 1993. We follow Etienne Lantier, an unemployed person who finds work in a mines in northern France. On the spot, he realizes the misery and the horror experienced every day by the workers. The cast of Germinal is then composed of Renaud who does not keep a very good memory of it, but also of Gérard Depardieu, Miou-Miou, Judith Henry and Jean Carmet.
Series Germinal as for it, is created by Julien Lilti, it was essential for them to modernize Zola characters. For the director and his co-authors, it was important to grant a large place for female characters of the series and to underline their political weight. Thus, they sought to free themselves from the weight of the novel and to be as close as possible the feelings of each of the characters.
Filming in difficult conditions
Much like the 1993 film, the filming of the series Germinal took place on former mining sites located in Lille, Valenciennes and their surroundings, such as Fort de Seclin. Among them we find Lewarde Historical Mining Center. The teams were able to invest this historic site in part thanks to the confinement, because this place which is very visited was closed. The filming of the series lasted five and a half months and was in the cold, that is, in the rain and snow. Louis Peres, who plays Etienne Lantier, remembers it very well:
We did not need to imagine the fatigue of the miners because we ourselves had died of fatigue. Even if, of course, the miners went way beyond in terms of suffering.
A colossal production
At the time, Berri’s film had a budget of 165 million francs, that is not far from 25 million euros! A record at the time, due to the number of extras and the enormous artistic direction team in charge of creating the sets. The France 2 series is also a large-scale project, Banijay Productions has allocated a budget of 12 million euros. Which represents a very large sum for a mini-series intended for the small screen. Indeed, large resources have been deployed in order to remain faithful to the time. The shooting took place in a dozen different sets.
For the needs of the series and pushing realism to the limit, five tons of mud were dumped in the main street of Marchipont, while 22 tons of coal were imported from Poland. Side figuration, the production engaged many former miners among the 2,400 people present. A sizeable cast has also been selected to embody these well-known characters, so we find Louis Peres who is one of the heroes of the series. Mental, but also Alix Poisson, Guillaume de Tonquédec, Thierry Godard, Natacha Lindinger or Sami Bouajila.
The series was awarded at the Série Mania Festival in Lille
All these means put in place to make the series as realistic as possible have paid off. Indeed, long before his arrival on Salto and its broadcast on France 2, Germinal was presented in preview at the Série Mania Festival in Lille. The series was able to conquer festival-goers since it won the prestigious public award, which represents the favorite series of spectators. This success does not end, because the first episodes of the event fiction have gathered 4.4 million curious, which means that 19.9% of the public was present in front of the television.
Series Germinal is broadcast every Wednesday on France 2, since October 27, and is currently available on the Salto platform.