Misère au Borinage

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Misère au Borinage
Directed by Henri Storck
Joris Ivens
Written by Henri Storck
Joris Ivens
Edited by Helen van Dongen
Release date
Running time
36 minutes
Country Belgium
Language French, Dutch

Misère au Borinage (French, literally "Poverty in the Borinage"), also known as Borinage, was a 1934[1] Belgian documentary film directed by Henri Storck and Joris Ivens. Produced during the Great Depression, the film has a strongly socialist theme, covering the poor living conditions of the workers and coal miners of the Borinage region of Belgium. It is considered a classic work of political cinema[2] and has been described as "one of the most important references in the documentary genre".[3]


Misère au Borinage is shot in black and white and is a silent film. Its intertitles are in French and Dutch languages. It opens with a title card, bearing the slogan: "Crisis in the Capitalist World. Factories are closed down, abandoned. Millions of proletarians are hungry!" and shows footage of the repression of a 1933 strike in Ambridge, Pennsylvania in the United States. The film then shifts to the Borinage region of Belgium during and after the general strike of 1932. The majority of the film focuses on the plight of Borinage coal miners who have been evicted from their houses and made unemployed following their participation in the strike. It also shows the poor living conditions of the miners and their families. The film makes the argument that strike action could be justified by the poor conditions in which Belgian workers lived.[4]

The film was made against the context of the Great Depression and premiered in Brussels in March 1934.[5] According to Robert Stallaerts, Storck's work as director of Misère au Borinage justified his status as "father of Walloon cinema" even though he was actually Flemish.[6]

In 2000, a new documentary was made about the Borinage as a tribute to Storck: "Les Enfants du Borinage - Lettre à Henri Storck".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mathijs 2004, p. 37.
  2. ^ Patricia Aufderheide, Documentary film: a very short introduction, Oxford University Press, 2007, p.79. ISBN 978-0-19-518270-5
  3. ^ Misery in Borinage
  4. ^ Mathijs 2004, p. 41.
  5. ^ Mathijs 2004, p. 42.
  6. ^ Historical dictionary of Belgium Scarecrow press, 1999, p. 191. ISBN 0-8108-3603-3


  • Mathijs, Ernest, ed. (2004). The Cinema of the Low Countries. London: Wallflower Press. ISBN 9781904764007. 

External links[edit]