7.8/10
14,618
106 user 76 critic

Babette's Feast (1987)

Babettes gæstebud (original title)
During the late 19th century, a strict religious community in a Danish village takes in a French refugee from the Franco-Prussian War as a servant to the late pastor's daughters.

Director:

Writers:

(short story), (screenplay)
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Babette Hersant (as Stephane Audran)
Bodil Kjer ...
Birgitte Federspiel ...
...
...
Achille Papin (as Jean Philippe Lafont)
...
Svensk hofdame
...
Fortælleren
Asta Esper Hagen Andersen ...
Anna (as Asta Esper Andersen)
Thomas Antoni ...
Svensk løjtnant
Gert Bastian ...
Fattig mand
Viggo Bentzon ...
Fisker i robåd
...
Therese Højgaard Christensen ...
Martha
Pouel Kern ...
Præsten
Cay Kristiansen ...
Poul
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Storyline

In a remote 19th-century Danish village, two sisters lead a rigid life centered around their father, the local minister, and their church. Both had opportunities to leave the village: one could have married a young army officer and the other, a French opera singer. Their father objected in each case, and they spent their lives caring for him. Many years later - their father is now deceased - they take in French refugee, Babette Hersant, who agrees to work as their servant. After winning the lottery, Babette wants to repay the sisters for their kindness and offers to cook a French meal for them and their friends on the 100th anniversary of their father's birth. It proves to be an eye-opening experience for everyone. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Music

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

4 March 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Babette's Feast  »

Box Office

Gross:

$4,398,938 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original novella is set in the Norwegian village of Berlevag. Although Gabriel Axel stayed very close to the original source he felt that the original setting had become too colourful and pretty to evoke the bleakness described by Blixen, and transposed the setting to Jutland in his native Denmark, where he had the wooden village houses built. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[in Danish, using English subtitles]
Narrator: In this remote spot there once lived two sisters who were both past the first flush of youth. They had been christened Martina and Philippa after Martin Luther and his friend Philipp Melanchton. They spent all their time and almost all their small income on good works.
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Soundtracks

Champagne aria from Don Giovanni
(uncredited)
Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Sung as Papin returns to his lodging
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User Reviews

 
Spare yet sumptuous
29 September 2000 | by See all my reviews

The dead spots and picture-postcard superficiality of "Out of Africa" just about buried any interest I might have had to read Isak Dinesen. So when my brother bought me "Babette's Feast," and knowing it was based on a Dinesen story, I didn't exactly race to the VCR. But as the titles rolled, it became clear that this was no ordinary movie. Jutland (where it's set) is not Africa; the chill mist that collects on the camera shots is not inviting. The cold, forbidding sea; the heavy, gray clouds; the pale, icy green cliffs--translate to hardships that show on the faces over which director Gabriel Axel draws the curtain. The craggiest is Bodil Kjer's as Philippa; amid the myriad merits of this movie, the most memorable is that face. It stands like a map laying before us the cherished wonder of her minister father's apostolate; like a maze of long-overlooked fjords where the complications of her congregation's perseverance and commitment hang like gleaming escutcheons.

I gather it's Dinesen's point how the world is drawn inexplicably to Christian dedication, when Philippa is rejected by her only serious suitor (because he fears he'll never measure up to the rules and rigors of her small religious clique), and he returns to find her mistress of whom he regards as the greatest chef on the continent. I figure it's also her point that Christ answers the doubts and regrets of those who give up worldly success (Philippa's sister Martina rebuffs efforts by a visiting baritone (Jean-Philippe Lafont whose jolliness creates an uplifting counterpoint to the sparsity of spirit that surrounds his discovery) to turn her into an opera star; the title character leaves France and an enviable reputation and seeks sanctuary as the servant of two spinster sisters) to pursue artistic triumphs for only God and those closest to Him to witness. But it's Axel who weaves the asperity of these people's lives with the richness of Martina's voice and Babette Hersant's table and effects a sumptuousness you'd never expect from a movie about sacrifice, faith, and religious conviction.

What sets this movie apart from other religious movies is its sly humor. "Babette's Feast," that is, the banquet itself--a posthumous commemoration of the minister's 100th birthday--is a beautifully orchestrated clash of sensibilities that delivers comic moments by an ensemble of actors that are unparalleled in their subtlety. It's just this deft comedy that enriches the solemn sentiments at closing. Together they do something pious movies seldom do. They leave a believer tremulously hopeful and unexpectedly resolute and humbled.


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