Tag Archives: Claire Denis

XL Popcorn – Beau Travail

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 614/1007
Title: Beau Travail
Director: Claire Denis
Year: 1999
Country: France

Like with the anime list, the main peril of following this list is the regular updates. For the movies list, any films released in the last decade are the ones for the chop – which is why this is the most recent entry I have watched since Moolaadé over a year ago.

I relented in my recency rule as Beau Travail felt like one of those films that would not be leaving the list. It is an incredibly well acclaimed film that one of the highest rated of its year of release. Also, it deals with a subject that you don’t see everyday – repressed homosexuality in post-colonial West Africa.

Well, you can watch this film and read the actions of this central character as either represses homosexuality or unwarranted hatred. Hand-on-heart I think the first one makes for the more interesting viewing. It would also really help frame some of the more homoerotic scenes in the film.

The direction and cinematography of Beau Travail is outstanding. The entire film feels like it takes place in a dream – which makes some degree of sense as it is told as the recollection of disgraced legionnaire Galoup. If he is gay then it would explain the film’s focus on the graceful movements of fit, shirtless men taking part in army exercises.

These sequences are set to operatic music and are beautiful to look at. Not just because these are good looking men, but how the choreography of the movements work with the beautifully arid Djiboutian scenery.

As a film that is set in the military this is slower moving than most. However, there is something stylish here that is ultimately hypnotic; especially when you think about how these are men that are training for a battle that may never come.