The new digital restoration of Claire Denis' poetic tale of rivalry and remorse set in the world of the French Foreign Legion. Australian Premiere.
Commissioned to make a film that explored the idea of “foreignness”, Claire Denis conceived a classic tale of rivalry and remorse within the ranks of a timeless, stateless, society. Since its beginnings in the early 19th century, the French Foreign Legion has been synonymous with Empire, providing a haven for global citizens, seeking adventure or to escape their past.
Taking inspiration from Billy Budd, Sailor by Herman Melville, Beau Travail is the story of Galoup (Denis Lavant), a sergeant who’s shaken to his core by a beguiling new recruit, Sentain (Grégoire Colin). Moving effortlessly between time and space, the conflict and remorse unfolds through the singular memories of Galoup, banished from his legionnaire home and alone in Marseilles.
The attention that Denis brings to bodies is one of the key pillars of her filmmaking and none more so than, Beau Travail. For this film, Denis enlisted choreographer Bernardo Montet to devise the legionnaire’s precise drill sequences that accentuate the comradery, discipline and tribal nature of the military. These now iconic sequences of bodies moving in unison, framed by the azure sky and earthy desert by Denis long-time cinematographer, Agnès Godard remain some of contemporary cinema’s most arresting images.
For nearly twenty years Beau Travail has captured the imagination and exemplified Denis cerebral, skilful approach to filmmaking. This new digital restoration allows new audiences and fans alike to re-engage with this modern cinema classic.
READ: Blood and sand: what makes Beau Travail great
Hannah McGill, Sight & Sound, Nov 2019
WATCH: French film director Claire Denis introduces her film Beau Travail
University of Notre Dame's DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, Nov 2012
READ: Unsatisfied Men
Jonathan Rosenbaum, Apr 2018
Adult themes, Medium level coarse language
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