BEAU TRAVAIL (Bilingual) [Import]
Inspired by Herman Melville's Billy Budd, Beau Travail is the most provocative and accomplished film yet by French director Claire Denis (Chocolat, I Can't Sleep, Nenette and Boni). Set against the stunning East African enclave of Djibouti, Beau Travail follows a troupe of men in a small French Foreign Legion outpost. Exercising their muscular torsos under the blaring sun, each day the Legionnaires engage in a hypnotically choreographed routine of drills, chores, and mock battles. Sergeant Galoup (Denis Lavant) seems the ideal Legionnaire: a brooding loner, cut off from his past. He runs the troupe like a well-oiled machine, until his jealously for a promising young recruit, Sentain, threatens the delicate balance of his life. With the haunting suspense of a Greek tragedy, Galoup's uncontrollable urge to destroy Sentain ultimately leads to his own downfall.
The movies of French director Claire Denis (I Can't Sleep, Trouble Every Day) are magical to some viewers and maddening to others because of the indirect way she tells her stories. Plot and character are revealed through what feel like inconsequential moments, while the important events seem to happen between the scenes. Beau Travail is more accessible than most, partly because of the simplicity of its plot (a jealous Foreign Legion sergeant ruins his own career when his beloved commander becomes fond of a young recruit) but mostly because of the vividness of its imagery, particularly sensuous shots of muscular men sweating in the sun or swimming in the ocean. It's unabashedly homoerotic, but it's also a compelling portrait of the basic emotional drives felt by men in extreme circumstances. --Bret Fetzer
Top Customer Reviews
The dvd is so so as there are some instances of dust, and the resolution is not very high for a dvd. If one is watching this dvd on a 50" or larger tv then jaggies are quite prominent at times. The resolution looks to be less than 480p, perhaps closer to VHS quality. There are also no special features except for the theatrical trailer. This film is rated #78 on Sight and Sound's top 100 films of all time.
The exercise sequences are highly choreographed. Whether engaged in yoga-like movements, or crawling under barbed wire, or traversing rope like high wire artists against the tropical blue sky, Denis mines the images of these lean, hard, half-naked men to make her points. Accompanying much of this footage with music from Britten's Billy Budd adds intensity and a further ritualistic strangeness to the mix.Into the status quo enters a newcomer, Sentain (Gregoire Colin), who proves to be popular with the other men and with the commander, Bruno Forestier (Michel Subor). Galoup's jealousy is aroused, and with the inevitability of Greek myth, the events unfold. The script throws in a passing line to the effect that Subor has been dogged by rumors, but the rumors are unspecified.Read more ›
The movie has some simple and beautiful scenery of barren Africa; accordingly it won several awards for its cinematography, including a Cesar (the equivalent of the French Oscar). The tone of the film is mesmerizingly aloof, with little dialogue and character development (most are nameless and credited simply as "legionnaire"). However, the movie is glacier paced, relying on repeated imagery and stark narration. There are also far too many scenes in which the camera lingers on the legionnaires training or ironing their clothes. Despite the languid pace, the movie is rarely boring, as it manages to maintain a sense of intrigue. In addition, the ending is amusingly peculiar and bewildering.
Most recent customer reviews
Unable to watch movie due to it was Region 2 format & at the time of ordering dvd there was no indication or warning that it was in Region 2 format only.Published 8 months ago by Clive - Edmonton, Canada
Do you ever catch yourself watching a movie that hasn't been worth your time, but stick to it through the end 'just in case' and thinking to yourself.... Read morePublished on June 12 2004 by Stephen
Beau Travail is Claire Denis's reductionist take on Melville's tragic tale of Billy Budd. While Melville gives us all we need to understand the plight of the beautiful and tragic... Read morePublished on April 16 2004 by Ned K. Wynn
and oodles simply oodles of body-odor!
TWO STARS and that only for the pounding disco [?] sequences. Read more
Introspective and subtle, Claire Denis' BEAU TRAVAIL offers a modern retelling of Herman Melville's BILLY BUDD, transposing the tale of an officer who self-destructs through his... Read morePublished on Nov. 11 2003 by Gary F. Taylor
I saw *Beau Travail* at the theatres and thought it was excellent. And purchasing the DVD, I still think it's an incredibly good film. Read morePublished on April 25 2003 by An American in China
Beay Travial (beautiful work) is Denis' best film yet. The story is of a Legionare Sergeant who is consumed by jealousy over a talented recruit, but, don't be fooled, the execution... Read morePublished on April 23 2003 by 24fps
The only thing I enjoyed about this movie is the laugh I got out of reading the good reviews. It reminds me of a scene from the play "Art". Read morePublished on Feb. 25 2003
Those reviewers who gave this film low ratings should stick to watching Braveheart and Sleepless in Seattle. Read morePublished on Feb. 10 2003 by RICH B
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