Now Film/Video | Classics

Beau travail

(Claire Denis, 1999)

Stream | New Restoration

A group of soldiers march on a hillside

Long unavailable, one of the most acclaimed and influential films of the 1990s is newly restored to captivate audiences anew.

Claire Denis’ ravishingly sensual take on Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Sailor firmly established her as one of the great visual poets of our time. Amid the azure waters and sunbaked desert landscapes of Djibouti, a French Foreign Legion sergeant (Denis Lavant) sows the seeds of his own ruin as his obsession with a striking young recruit (Grégoire Colin) plays out to the thunderous, operatic strains of Benjamin Britten (as well as iconic uses of Neal Young and Corona’s “Rhythm of the Night”).

Denis and cinematographer Agnès Godard fold military and masculine codes of honor, colonialism’s legacy, destructive jealousy, and repressed desire into shimmering, hypnotic images that ultimately explode in one of the most startling and unforgettable endings in all of modern cinema. Denis paid a memorable visit to the Wexner Center in October 2004 for a complete retrospective and conversation with Ohio State professor and film scholar Judith Mayne. (93 mins., digital video). In French with English subtitles.

"A masterpiece, a film whose rich inner life only becomes more absorbing and intricate with repeated viewings."
Adrian Martin

More about the film

A group of soldiers march on a hillside

Image courtesy of Janus Films

A soldier in uniform plays a bugle in front of the sea

Image courtesy of Janus Films

A circle of training male soldiers run in place around a man at the center

Image courtesy of Janus Films

A male soldier in a beret looks of into the distance

Image courtesy of Janus Films

Two shirtless men face each other on rocky ground above the sea

Image courtesy of Janus Films

A soldier sits in the sand along with his troop

Image courtesy of Janus Films

Several shirtless men embrace in a creek

Image courtesy of Janus Films

A close-up profile of a soldier in a beret

Image courtesy of Janus Films

MADE POSSIBLE BY
Greater Columbus Arts Council
Ohio Arts Council
American Electric Power Foundation
The Columbus Foundation
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Nationwide Foundation

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT PROVIDED BY
Huntington Bank
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Kaufman Development
Cardinal Health Foundation

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Beau travail