The year is 1863. Étienne Lantier gets work as a mineworker after having been fired from his job on the railroad for revolutionary behavior. Disheartened by the conditions in the mines, he returns to his revolutionary ideas and leads a strike of the mineworkers. Soldiers are brought in to quell the strike.
Jean Sorel: Étienne Lantier, a new young miner
Berthe Granval: Catherine Maheu, a young woman
Claude Brasseur: Marcel (or Martin) Chaval, a miner in love with Catherine
Bernard Blier: Hennebeau, the owner of a mineshaft