I gave Beau Travail an 7/10 , but because it is really well-made – the elements are very cohesive visually, musically, and etc. – I should probably have gone 9/10. There is, however, one thing that bothers me and that is its relationship to Billy Budd, Sailor by Herman Melville. Budd had an insight into individual human dynamics which was not brought out in Beau. The human dynamic : The herd needs to bring the naïve up to speed quickly or they will become food for predators – that dynamic is biological. You see it everywhere, especially on the web. Someone posts something out of sync with the group and they are hammered. Later the hammer-ee hammers someone else. It has happened to all of us and we have done it in turn. One should not take it personally – it is a rite of passage and the way the herd protectively brings one into the fold. In some cultures, the innocent were sacrificed to the Gods.
Beau focuses on the perpetrator rather than the ‘victim’ and this is a major departure. The victim’s importance is actually reduced in the scene where he his lauded for his heroism – it was kinda flat wasn’t it? he got one “attaboy” and that was it.
Denis has twisted Melville around completely, and what is wrong with that? If you assume that Budd will be known to future generations, then there is nothing wrong with Denis’ re-reading, it puts Budd in contrast – actually raising Budd up.
The name of this film is “Good Work”. Beau lacks agency – he has little emotional memory – he can only do good work. The hierarchical forces determine his existential qualities. This is a modern theme and a good one – if only it wasn’t put in relationship to Melville, I would have given the film 10/10.
Are we like Beau lacking agency in a Global-ized world?
Are we like Budd willing to destroy innocence to maintain the order of the herd?
We are both.
Re: “One should not take it personally – it is a rite of passage and the way the herd protectively brings one into the fold. In some cultures, the innocent were sacrificed to the Gods.”
I’m pleased to announce that I am not now, nor have I ever been, involved in herd mentality.
That probably has something to do with my not being a member of a herd.
In an advanced society, one’s intellectual sophistication is required to surpass, at the very LEAST, anything like herd behavior.
Likewise, the fact that our distant ancestors made sacrifices to the gods has no bearing whatsoever on current modes of behavior, if we wish to even pretend that we possess any smarts at all.
To borrow a quote from THE AFRICAN QUEEN, nature is what what we were put on earth to rise above.
I think Peter Ustinov’s version of Billy Budd is brilliant.
Beau Travail is a meditative, detached, and contemplative take on the same story. Brilliant as well.
I read both, and their source, as stories about the pettiness of the truly evil mind, and the largesse of the truly good or innocent.
In my view, it’s about what may lie at the core of an individual psyche, nothing to do with herds.
nature is what what we were put on earth to rise above.
Have we risen above nature or have we destroyed it in an effort to place it beneath us?
I wasn’t referring to the natural environment.
To “rise above” (in the context of your original topic) means to escape an impulse, or to avoid being held down by baser instincts.
Nothing to do with subjugating the landscape in which those impulses occur.
Budd had an insight into individual human dynamics which was not brought out in Beau.
Yes, and Budd had an attention to realistic detail which was not brought out in Beau. In fact, Beau is suffused with quite a bit of anti-realism. Denis is too busy imagining homoeroticism. Mellville didn’t have to imagine it. Not a big fan of Beau.
Subjugating the landscape is an impulse – specifically Western
Man is of nature, the rising above isn’t possible.
The social order isn’t based on being smart, it is based on rewards and punishments.
Yes there is a certain amount of ‘will’ and ‘faith’ involved,
but when social contructs fail ….