Germinal, 1913

R: Albert Capellani. B: Albert Capellani, based on the novel by Émile Zola. K: Louis Forestier, Pierre Trimbach. D: Mévisto, Jean Jacquinet, Henry Krauss, Sylvie, Paul Escoffier. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1913
Engl. subtitles

About Zola’s novel:
“The title, Germinal, is drawn from the springtime seventh month of the French Revolutionary Calendar and is meant to evoke imagery of germination, new growth and fertility. Accordingly,  Zola ends the novel on a note of hope and one that has provided inspiration to socialist and reformist causes of all kinds throughout the years since its first publication: ‘Beneath the blazing of the sun, in that morning of new growth, the countryside rang with song, as its belly swelled with a black and avenging army of men, germinating slowly in its furrows, growing upwards in readiness for harvests to come, until one day soon their ripening would burst open the earth itself.’ By the time of his death, the novel had come to be recognized as his undisputed masterpiece. At his funeral crowds of workers gathered, cheering the cortège with shouts of Germinal! Germinal!’. Since then the book has come to symbolize working class causes and to this day retains a special place in French mining-town folklore.”

Kristin Thompson:
“Nothing in Griffith‘s pre-war career comes close to Les Misérables or Germinal.”
David Bordwell’s Observations on Film Art

“The Société Cinématographique des Artistes et des Gens de Lettres (Artists’ and Writers’ Film Company), usually known as SCAGL, was a subsidiary — really, a production unit and a release label — established in 1908 by Pathé Frères, the main French film producing and distributing company (indeed the world’s largest film company), in anticipation of competition from the newly founded Film d’Art in the production of artistically respectable films. Albert Capellani, who had started his career as a theatrical actor and then progressed to stage manager at the Alhambra Music-Hall in Paris before becoming a director for Pathé in 1905, was appointed artistic director of SCAGL on its foundation, and as an individual director became its specialist in literary subjects, notably a series of Victor Hugo adaptations, including Notre Dame de Paris in 1911, Les Misérables in 1912, and Quatre-vingt-treize, which was shot in 1914, but only released, in a version completed by André Antoine, in 1921. Germinal was shot in the winter and spring of 1913, with exteriors in Auchel, near Béthune, Pas-de-Calais, and released in November of the same year.”
Ben Brewster: Germinal and Film Acting
UW filmies wiki

“The furious depiction of the war between labour and capital invites comparison to Griffith’s Intolerance: here, too, finally, armed forces crush the rebels. In Germinal, seeing the carnage, the commander bursts into tears. In contrast to Griffith the camera is static*, there are no close-ups, and there is no montage. The intertitles give away the action in advance. On the other hand, the composition is impeccable, the movement of the masses dynamically conveyed, and Germinal has documentary fascination as a portrait of a primitive phase of the industrial society. Interestingly, the actors are relatively subdued, and the sadness at the death of both of the leading ladies is moving.”
Antti Alanen

*That’s not correct.  For pans and other camera movements see: 11 min. 30 sec. / 11 min. 45 sec. / 13 min. 34 sec. / 16 min. 05 sec. / 27 min 50 sec. and more. (KK)

“Illustrative is the attitude of the ‘Hamburger Echo’ with regard to a screening of Albert Capellani’s Germinal (1913) in Breslau (Wroclaw), in October 1913, especially organized by the local Workers’ Education Committee. While hailing the film as a successful attempt ‘to put the cinematograph in the service of the labour movement’, the newspaper also wrote that it demonstrated ‘an extraordinary lack of taste’, for the film version of Zola’s novel was ‘a brutality against literature and a crime against the people’ (…) For literature in film form is vulgar, even when it is derived from the works of Zola, Schiller, or Goethe.'”
Bert Hogenkamp, in: Richard Abel (ed.): Encyclopedia of Early Cinema. Taylor & Francis 2005, p. 366