Germinal on France 2: why a series instead of a new film?

The creator and screenwriter, Julien Lilti, believes that there is simply “not the place in two hours of film to adapt Germinal.”

The saga Germinal continues this evening on France 2. Two new episodes, but not yet the end of Etienne Lantier’s mining destiny. Because the event mini-series is spread over six parts. Almost six hours to bring the story of Emile Zola to the screen. The ideal format according to the screenwriter and creator of this serial version, Julien lilti. He explains to Première that after having read and re-read the original work, he saw the previous film adaptations in a different light:

“When I ask myself the question of the unit adaptation, whether it is the films of Claude Berri (1993) or that of Yves Allégret (1963), they were forced to make huge cuts! Knowing the novel well now , when I see these films, I see the cuts. And I don’t necessarily understand them. In particular the passage from individual revolt to collective revolt. Where is the spark? There is no room in two hours of film to adapt Germinal. We have to cut pieces. And when we amputate, we modify, we denature “, analyzes the screenwriter, taking a step back from the difficult work of adapting a great classic like Germinal.

Beautiful and powerful, this Germinal 2021 is a success (critical)

According to Julien lilti, the 6×52 minute format thus offers “the space necessary to give importance to all the characters. Beyond Étienne Lantier, there are strong female characters that I wanted to highlight. Because in the novel, Zola gives a lot of space to Catherine Maheut. He wanted to make her the heroine of his story elsewhere, at the start, before switching to Lantier, under the pressure of the time.

Ultimately, the mini-series Germinal is indeed rich and powerful, and closer than ever to the book published in 1885: “I don’t think I betrayed the spirit of the original work at all. We made a very faithful adaptation … even if we cut the novel a lot of times, because we have six scripts for six episodes, and that you have to end up on cliffhangers for example “, concedes Julien Lilti, who admits to having “transformed the story, the narration. But I hope that Emile Zola would be happy to see how his work has been carried in today’s world. “

Germinal will end next Wednesday, on France 2.

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