IMDb > Beau Travail (1999)
Beau travail
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Beau Travail (1999) More at IMDbPro »Beau travail (original title)

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Release Date:
3 May 2000 (France) See more »
This film focuses on an ex-Foreign Legion officer as he recalls his once glorious life, leading troops in Africa. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
8 wins & 8 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Beau travail See more (69 total) »


  (in credits order)

Directed by
Claire Denis 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Claire Denis  writer
Jean-Pol Fargeau  writer
Herman Melville  story "Billy Budd, Sailor"

Produced by
Patrick Grandperret .... producer
Jérôme Minet .... executive producer
Eric Zaouali .... line producer
Original Music by
Charles Henri de Pierrefeu 
Eran Zur  (as Eran Tzur)
Cinematography by
Agnès Godard 
Film Editing by
Nelly Quettier 
Casting by
Nicolas Lublin 
Production Design by
Arnaud de Moleron 
Costume Design by
Judy Shrewsbury 
Makeup Department
Danièle Vuarin .... makeup artist
Production Management
Salem Brahimi .... unit production manager
Eric Zaouali .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Jean-Paul Allegre .... assistant director
Nicolas Conti .... trainee assistant director
Ali Mohammed Hamadou .... assistant director: Djibouti
Murielle Iris .... assistant director
Julien Louvret .... trainee assistant director
Moussah Hassan Moussah .... assistant director
Flore Rougier .... second assistant director
Art Department
Stéphane Taillasson .... assistant decorator
Sound Department
Pascal Chauvin .... foley artist
Pascal Dedeye .... foley artist
Dominique Gaborieau .... sound re-recording mixer
Jean-Paul Mugel .... sound
Yves-Marie Omnes .... boom operator
Nathalie Vidal .... sound engineer
Jean-Christophe Winding .... sound editor (as Christophe Winding)
Visual Effects by
Ronan Broudin .... digital compositor
Camera and Electrical Department
Julien Bureau .... assistant camera
Gérard Delayat .... key grip
Patrick Grandperret .... underwater camera operator
Olivier Regent .... head electrician
Thérèse Somano .... assistant camera
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Christine Keusch .... costumer
Zara .... seamstress
Editorial Department
Emmanuelle Pencalet .... assistant editor
Music Department
Tarkan .... composer: song "Simarik"
Transportation Department
Moumin Daoud Ali .... driver
Other crew
Niaz Ziad Ibrahim .... production assistant: Djibouti
Bernardo Montet .... choreographer
Bruno Mérieux .... administrator: Marseille
Danielle Vaugon .... production coordinator
Béatrice Zanetti .... production administrator

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Beau travail" - France (original title)
"Good Work" - Europe (English title)
See more »
92 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

The dance scene was shot in a single take.See more »
Commander Bruno Forestier:[subtitled version]
[in Russian]
Commander Bruno Forestier:Why did you join the Legion?
Legionnaire:[in Russian] Commandant, you know what it's like in Russia. No money, no work. I was in the army there for two years. I fought for Russia. But it's impossible to fight just for an ideal. An ideal that just keeps changing. You know what I mean?
Commander Bruno Forestier:[in Russian] What ideal?
See more »
Movie Connections:
Version of Billy Budd (1988) (TV)See more »
The Rhythm of the nightSee more »


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18 out of 19 people found the following review useful.
Beau travail, 26 April 2005
Author: Matthew Charlton ( from London, England

With Beau travail, Claire Denis freely retells Herman Melville's Billy Budd; the contemporised setting of a post-colonial Africa is parallel to the similarly epoch shattering context of post-French Revolution Europe; her sailors are correspondingly men in their prime, but here land-bound legionnaires. The dreaded cycle plays out as in the novel, with Denis Lavant playing the officer (Galoup) with an acute irrational dislike of Grégoire Colin's Billy Budd (Sentain).

However, the narrative tone is shifted in solidarity with the former, who has a voice-over, and whose fragmented remembrances seem to dictate the film's considerable ellipses, including cuts from anxious drama on the base somewhere in Africa to Galoup hanging out his washing in the suburbs of Marseille. This action, common to military and civilian life, is important to Beau travail, and, in an instance of extraordinary cinematic originality, is shot particularly well. It also represents Denis's subversion of the character of Claggart, an external softening that makes his hatred all the more upsetting; likewise, he dances and dresses with an almost effeminate, consummate style—notably in the hypnotic credit sequence, which has to be seen to be believed—yet he has the face and demeanour of a boxer. The clash of cultures is also significant, with the circumstances of the not unwelcome French occupation being distilled in the legionnaires' studied performance of Tai Chi (Denis opts for the poetic over the openly political); ironically, Michel Subor's Commandant expresses the greatest resentment of the French colonialist presence.

Elsewhere, Denis's diversions from the source text can be attributed to the conditions of cinema. A striking example is the democracy imposed by the camera: in the novel, the peripheral sailors are always in Budd's shadow, whereas Denis exploits the other legionnaires almost as a beautiful backdrop, just as she uses the savage mountain scenery; it is no great leap to compare their muscles to the latter's crags and gullies. The men's bodies are exalted, filmed as objects of art. Questionably, the native people are shot in the style of a nature documentary, and remind one of meercats sitting in the sun.

The score does not come in for the slightest criticism, mixing as it does Benjamin Britten's eponymous opera, Neil Young and African dance, thus very much bound up with the concerns of the film. Similarly, the director seems to be working with the Claggart character and vice versa. For example, in making the men dig roads Galoup has a chance to get at Sentain, and Denis the prospect of sequences of nothing but semi-nude men working their muscles. Almost everything in Beau travail comes back to the male body.

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Galoup's Dance commanderbigpants
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