FRANCE – 2000 – DCP – color – 90’

Direction: Claire Denis
Screenplay: Claire Denis, Herman Melville, Jean-Pol Fargeautratto based on the story Billy Budd, Sailor by Herman Melville
Cinematography: Agnès Godard
Editing: Nelly Quettier
Set design: Arnaud de Moléron
Music: Charles Henri De Pierrefeu, Eran Zur
Costumes: Judy Shrewsbury
Cast: Denis Lavant(Galoup), Michel Subor (commander Bruno Forestier), Grégoire Colin (Gilles Sentain), Richard Courcet (legionnaire), Nicolas Duvauchelle (legionnaire), Jean-Yves Vivet, Bernardo Montet, Djamel Zemali, Marta Tafesse Kassa, Abdelkader Bouti, Adiatou Massudi, Mickeal Ravovski,Thong Duy Nguyen, Marc Veh, Gianfranco Poddighe, Giuseppe Molino, Dan Herzberg
Producer: Patrick Grandperret
Production: La Sept-Arte,SM Films,Tanais


A former Foreign Legion officer, Galoup, remembers the glorious days he spent commanding a soldiers’ squad in the Gulf of Djibouti. His happy existence, marked by the rhythms of military life, is turned upside down by the arrival of a promising recruit, Sentain, who provokes a fit of jealousy in the officer. Consequently, he begins to undermine Sentain with the commander he admires, but who ignores him.

“Beau travailis focused on creating a poetic space for human bodies and perception. Its object is the sensation, not the narration.(…) Therefore, Beauty is the film’s main topic. Claire Denis’ subversive force consists in choosing an ideologically devalued ideal ofBeauty (the military, the army) or one with sexual connotations (homosexuality) and stylising it boldly. The choreography plays itspart, as does the choice of regularly making the tune of Britten’sBilly Buddre-emerge in the soundtrack. It contributes to dress thefilm with lyricism and creates the effect of time dilation. The film turns in a spiral: it moves forward but then repeats blocks ofimages or sounds that slow down the passage of time (“block” is undoubtedly the right word here, since the film has a fascinationwith the concept of mass, such as muscles, bodies, stones, crystallised salt).Beau travailis set in the space of a fantasy dream,portraying the power of desire and nothing else.” (Stéphane Bouquet,Cahiers du Cinéman. 545, aprile 2000)

2000 Berlinale – Reader Jury of the “Berliner Zeitung”: Special Mention
2000 Village Voice Film Poll: Best Film
2001 César Awards: Best Cinematography
2001 Chlotrudis Awards: Best Cinematography
2001 National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA: Best Cinematography
2001 Rotterdam IFF: Special Mention