Research Paper

On the Trail of Billy Budd: An Analysis of “Beau travail”

This article offers an analysis of Claire Denis’s film Beau travail (1999) as a free adaptation of Herman Melville’s classic Billy Budd. A comparative perspective is adopted to identify the specific transformations in the rewriting process, with attention to changes in focalisation and plot, as well as the film’s potential as a queer adaptation of Melville’s novella. Central to these relationships is the use of bodies, which creates a narrative that challenges both our expectations of a literary adaptation and the gender conventions of the film medium. In this way, the study finds that Beau travail is a benchmark case for defining transformative potential of adaptations.

Magazine or publication L'Atalante. Revista de Estudios Cinematográficos