Babette's Feast (Babettes Gæstebud) Reviews
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.
The plot in itself is simply the life of two sisters, daughters of a charismatic Christian preacher, who are committed completely to their Christian faith despite the opportunities they encountered to explore outside of those confines. They are from the Lutheran tradition. Years later, a French woman was forced to leave France and ends up with the sisters as a recommendation from an opera singer that visited them earlier. The French woman, Babette, help[s the sister with the cooking so that they can minister to others and also aids them in increasing their income. Babette grows to be loved in the town. One day, she has the opportunity to return to France and she insists on cooking for the centenary anniversary of the sisters' father. The dinner sequence is one of the most mesmerizing sequences in film.
I never thought the culinary qualities and the experiences of the diners could have been conveyed as successfully as done in this film. The meal, by modern standards, might not be appreciated by urban dwellers, but it is incredibly rich for those who can connect to the roots of food and the origins in a farm. Even aspects that might not sound as appetizing for some, are conveyed with great artistry that makes the dishes attractive to all people.
A running theme through the film is the dichotomy between the body and the spirit with the spirit receiving more accolades. Babette, from a Catholic French context, introduces to the small Christian congregation to the sacramental unity of body and spirit; a meal that can nurture the body and at the same time lead the diner to an encounter with transcendence and grace.
A simple (arguably slow) story of two woman who serve a religious leader & struggle with their inner desires. One evening a stray French Woman begs her services & they take her in.
Her personality brightens the village & she wants to do the dinner of dinners to thank them. The final dinner scene has some of the most mouth watering dishes...this film is a true delight!