The language Claire Denis chooses to explain the concept is time-tested and fitting. From caged men frolicking in the waters of emotion to neoclassical symmetry, the visceral ritualism of intimate military isolation is evoked well. The actual plot is a pretty simple build of clashing attraction and resentment within one Legionnaire, who ultimately violently projects it onto the object of his desire.
A simple story following a strict French Legion officer and his platoon in Djibouti, until a new recruit ignites feelings of jealousy and yearning. One of those films that purely works because of the director’s cinematic style, Claire Denis creates an incredible feeling of thirst and aching, and films the most hypnotizing dance club sequences. Every moment is intoxicating poetry on masculinity.
So original. How did she create so much tension in these images? The tension of the bodies, of underlying jealousy as scorching as the african sun, of the tumbling of power, of utter boredom and the sheer inner hysteria of one man. And the final scene, that final scene, may be one of the best final scenes I have ever seen.
Essentially a collage, fragmented memories of a period passed, which is where its strength lie but unfortunately this does not hit hard enough. Denis effectively transmits the spirit of the daily life of the french foreign legion. Silence and heat beats, a hand shading your eyes looking at the men in the sun soaked desert. Good looking scenes. The kind of film that is a bore to sit through &is better in retrospect.
I aspire to make works of a similar fusion of post-modern dance and narrative filmmaking. This is an aching tale of non-belonging told solely through movement. Never have I seen a film that is more a testament to the performative nature of masculinity. -- An especially enlightening review: http://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/sight-sound-magazine/features/greatest-films-all-time/blood-sand-beau-travail