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Big screen classics

Beau Travail

+ intro by writer Sophie Mayer

Claire Denis’ extraordinary film about jealousy and ambition with the Foreign Legion.

Image from Beau Travail + intro

France 1999
Dir Claire Denis
With Denis Lavant, Michel Subor, Grégoire Colin
English subtitles
Certificate 15

Inspired by Herman Melville’s Billy Budd (and using music from Britten’s opera of the same story), Denis’ extraordinary film concerns the jealousies (sexual, professional, even spiritual) aroused in a Foreign Legion sergeant (Lavant) when a new recruit seems to be favoured by their commanding officer. With striking, almost balletic images (shot by the great Agnès Godard) of the soldiers performing their strange daily rituals in the Djibouti desert, the film creates an atmosphere of fetid, near-intolerable heat.

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