The Frida Cinema

Orange County's Year-Round Film Festival

Beau Travail

Legendary filmmaker Claire Denis brings the rhythm of the night with the highly-acclaimed Beau Travail, presented in a stunning 4K remaster.

Loosely based on Herman Melville’s novella Billy Budd, the film is set in the African country of Djibouti, where a legion of soldiers from the French Foreign Legion are led by Adjudant-Chef Galoup (Denis Lavant). Engaging in ballet-like training exercises during the day, the men lose themselves in dance at night. When Légionnaire Sentain enters the group, repressed feelings and desires begin to sprout from Galoup. Will he give into them, or continue to serve the good cause?

Set to the music of Benjamin Britten and bathed in the otherworldly, sun-drenched cinematography of Agnès Godard, Beau Travail is ambiguous in its story, yet deeply rich in its exploration of masculinity and post-colonialism. It has been voted by various publications, including The Playlist, as the very best film of 1999.


“As much poem as film. It requires patience, which it rewards at every languid turn.” – Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News

“Cinematographer Agnès Godard captures all this in gorgeous compositions that co-writer/director Denis often presents without dialogue, eloquent exchanges of glances sufficient to communicate resentment or approval.” – Diane Carson, KDHX (St. Louis)

“Hypnotic and dreamy, with one of the most ecstatic endings of all time.” – Michael J. Casey, Boulder Weekly