Babette's Feast (Babettes Gæstebud) Reviews
Based on a short story by Karen Blixen (of Out Of Africa fame), this is an engaging, though not overly profound, movie. Starts slowly, showing the sisters' back story and building to the present day. The back story seems unnecessary initially, especially as it seems to wander and add nothing to the overall plot. However, the past, especially the characters therein, will have an important impact on the present.
The movie hits its stride in the second half, especially once Babette wins the lottery. A few themes start to emerge and the story becomes more engaging. An important shift takes place, in that the focus moves from the sisters to Babette, and this makes things much more interesting.
Unfortunately, the themes that emerge don't lead to anything too profound. I had visions of a powerful examination of how people's prejudices prevent them from enjoying life's simple pleasures, or how great art/food is lost on simple folk, but nothing really came of those.
Ultimately, an interesting story, lacking a powerful conclusion. Will make you very hungry though - the food looks fantastic!
Won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1988.
I thought the acting in Babette's Feast was quite good. It's often hard for me to judge acting quality when everyone is speaking a foreign language, but here there is a lot that is told through silent expressions and that all worked brilliantly. I was also shocked that a couple times the movie got me laughing out loud. It's not really a comedy per se, but there are a few moments that have a comedic edge that worked for me. Many of them come at quiet times, so this would have been a great film to watch with a group to share in the laughter.
The story was a unique one of faith and sacrifice that I connected with in many ways. I liked the structure of the tale, and wondered if there was something more it was leading to, like a dramatic surprise ending. The film does not have those kinds of ambitions, though. It is unassuming almost to a fault. The charm of the story won me over, but Babette's Feast is a rather modest film. As a result it won't fare as well in my ratings and rankings, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy watching it a lot.
It's easy to see why Pope Francis is so taken by Babette's Feast given his propensity for mixing the old with the new (albeit certainly not perfectly). The film espouses this sentiment exactly, piousness never shamed and gluttony never condemned, because life isn't complete without either. I'm not at all religious, but this simple message resonated anyway.
Lifestyle of village people in Denmark at the time is impressive.