Babette's Feast (1987) Poster

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10/10
My Favorite Film (and I Love movies)
jerayne10213 January 2005
Babette's Feast, for me, is about healing: mending the schism between spirit and body in orthodox Christianity. This puritanical community in remote Denmark is missing an adequate appreciation of all of God's gifts in creation. They have taken the dualism of St. Paul to an extreme, and stress the life of the "spirit," not the life of the "flesh." Both elderly sisters, in their youth, were frightened by the lure of love and the temptations of life outside their simple village. They, and their parishioners, cling to the narrow biblical interpretation of their former leader, and the sisters' father. The aging congregation has become testy and quarrelsome, and the sisters don't know what to do. Enter Babette, a French stranger, and someone to whom they can show kindness. They have no way of knowing that she will ultimately return their kindness and give fertile soil to their dry, dusty theology. Babette will give everything she has, and in the process, will teach the sisters and their flock about grace, about sacrifice, about how sensual experience (as in the bread and wine of the Eucharist) can change lives, and about why true art moves us so deeply. When they can forgive each other, and themselves, they can focus on God's love that unfolds before them in a concrete way in the present. As a minister, and an artist, I can't recommend a movie more highly. True art and true grace!!
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10/10
Food For Body and Soul
gftbiloxi17 May 2005
Flawlessly directed, written, performed, and filmed, this quiet and unpretentious Danish film is an example of cinema at its best, and if a person exists who can watch BABETTE'S FEAST without being touched at a very fundamental level, they are a person I do not care to know.

The story is quite simple. In the 1800s, two elderly maiden ladies (Birgitte Federspiel and Bodil Kjer) reside in remote Jutland, where they have sacrificed their lives, romantic possibilities, and personal happiness in order to continue their long-dead father's religious ministry to the small flock he served. One of the women's youthful admirers sends to them a Frenchwoman, Babette (Stéphane Audran), whose husband and son have been killed in France and who has fled her homeland lest she meet the same fate. Although they do not really require her services, the sisters engage her as maid and cook--and as the years pass her cleverness and tireless efforts on their behalf enables the aging congregation to remain together and the sisters to live in more comfort than they had imagined; indeed, the entire village admires and depends upon her.

One day, however, Babette receives a letter: she has won a lottery and is now, by village standards, a wealthy woman. Knowing that her new wealth will mean her return to France, the sisters grant her wish that she be allowed to prepare a truly French meal for them and the members of their tiny congregation. The meal and the evening it is served is indeed a night to remember--but not for reasons that might be expected, for Babette's feast proves to be food for both body and soul, and is ultimately her gift of love to the women who took her in and the villagers who have been so kind to her.

The film is extraordinary in every way, meticulous in detail yet not overpowering in its presentation of them. As the film progresses, we come to love the characters in both their simple devotion to God and their all-too-human frailties, and the scenes in which Babette prepares her feast and in which the meal is consumed are powerful, beautiful, and incredibly memorable. There have been several films that have used food as a metaphor for love, but none approach the simple artistry and beauty of BABETTE'S FEAST, which reminds us of all the good things about humanity and which proves food for both body and soul. Highly, highly recommended.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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8/10
A feast of cinema
Paul-25029 April 1999
Stephane Audran is the eponymous heroine of this beautifully measured study of a small Danish community towards the end of the last century. Two beautiful and musically talented sisters give-up their own prospects of happiness and marriage in order to look-after their ageing father. One day, a French woman, Babette, comes to work for them. After some years she wins the lottery and is determined to do something for the sisters who have taken her in. Her solution is to prepare an exquisite and sumptuous feast, which changes the lives of all those invited. This is a film about human and cultural interaction, reflected in the changing language of the dialogue from Danish to French, and especially between the dutiful sobriety of Protestant northern Europe and the sensuousness of the Catholic south. It is also about human needs, and how warmth and kindness can be expressed and stimulated through the cultivation of the senses. A profoundly uplifting film.
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10/10
A Movie to enchant the Angels
middleburg10 October 2004
Sublime--perfect--profound--a true lesson on the idealized meaning of life. We get completely caught up in the life journeys of Martina and Phillipa and

Babette. Their yearnings, desires, sacrifices resonant long after the movie has ended. Seeing it years ago--as it was gaining a great deal of notoriety at the audaciousness of its subject matter--half the movie being a single dinner--the audience was "oohing and aahing" as some of the courses took their final

glorious shape, laughing at the reaction of the diners, as they became totally seduced by the gustatorial pleasures being introduced to them by Babette, and being totally surprised at the turn of events at the end of the film. Subsequently seeing the film years later after my own twists and turns of life, I realized just how profound the film is. On this viewing tears flowed freely. The film's

meditation on the passage of time and the way it uses a seemingly simple story to comment on life and love and art and generosity is truly something to

cherish.
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Consuming passion?
billy-449 January 2002
"Babette's Feast" proves that not all film theories and formulas are true 100% of the time. Here's a story where there is no life-or-death conflict, no raging anger, no violent outbursts. Nothing blowed up real good, and there is nothing resembling a chase scene. The conflict is about the ways in which people can be nice to each other. Their personal differences of passion or conviction are not as important as the ways in which they can connect with each other.

How shockingly refreshing.

There is an undercurrent to this film that gives it the feel of a Garrison Keillor monologue, in that it is built around people's personal foibles and quirks.

Even more refreshing is how "Babette's Feast" manages to be nice without becoming cloying, saccharine, facile, superficial or insincere. People's personal passions are portrayed not only from their own perspective, but from the perspective of the people they affect, with more realism than you usually get in film, yet also with sincere and infectious optimism.

If you don't come away from "Babette's Feast" smiling and feeling better, then you must have been distracted from giving it your full attention. This is one of those very rare films that you can recommend to everyone you know. It is truly in a class by itself. Like Mary Poppins, "Practically perfect in every way."

Utterly charming and subtly stunning.
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10/10
A bittersweet, redemptive northern masterpiece
Dennis Littrell6 December 2000
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon.)

Take the style of Ingmar Bergman, stir in some Lutheranism, add a dash of Guy De Maupassant, a pinch of Chekov (such a severe and forbidding brew!). Mix well with the grand cuisine of nineteenth century France and what do you have? Babette's Feast!

Our story (from an Isak Dinesen short story) is of two lovely maiden sisters from Jutland, the pious daughters of a stern and dictatorial minister, who spurn their chance for love to remained devoted to their austere Protestant creed and to their puritanical and selfish father. We are subjected to the bleak, harsh winters, to the endless hours of knitting, to the long silences and the sighs upon sighs... Ah, the Danes, the Norwegians, the Swedes, how beautifully they brood! We see the barren beauty of Martina, who so enchanted the young cavalryman that when he could not melt her cold, cold heart, he instead vowed to be a success, and succeeded! And then there came the baritone from the Paris opera who heard her sister Phillipa's soprano voice at choir and fell immediately and hopeless in love with her, and sought to train her voice and carry her away. But no, he too could not melt the snows of her near Arctic heart, and so returned to Paris where he played out his (now) empty career.

Flash forward to the entrance of Babette, whom the opera singer sends many years later to the sisters to hide from the strife in France. She will be an angel of gastronomy, household management and common sense who will mend their souls and fill them with joy.

This is a tale of unrequited love. Of love that festers and longs and does not die. How I adore the love stories where the love is never consummated! I love the years of yearning, the melancholy realization that it could never work, and yet, and yet... And then when they are old and past any pretense, how wonderful it is to know that the anticipation, the savoring, the longing, the utter lack of finality, how wonderful THAT was, and how superior to a banal consummation!

But then, such is not the usual taste. Speaking of tastes, this is not a movie to see on an empty stomach. The climatic feast of turtle soup, quail in pastry, rich sauces, dessert, fromage, fruit, etc., washed down with amontillado, champagne, etc. will wet your appetite. A little stunning for this modest epicure was the Clos de Vougeot, 1845 that the general so admired. Can you imagine how beautiful that wine was, and what it would fetch today!

This is also a tale of Christian piety, and a joining of the Protestant and the Catholic, of how a Lutheran might learn from a Papist, of how the temperate zone might warm the north. How food really is a sacrament.

Anyway, we know from the moment Babette comes to the austere, but grand old pious ladies to cook for them that she is something special. When the ladies show her how to precisely prepare the mundane Danish meals of bread soup and soaked, smoked flounder, we know immediately that she is a great cook; after all she is Parisian, and an opera star has signified her as such. But she modestly says not a word and learns the Danish names and follows faithfully the Danish recipes, as though she were an ingenue. She works for nothing, having lost her family to the bloodshed in France, and what has she to live for but to do what she has to do and do it right. And does she ever!

Babette's Feast is as heart-warming as a Disney tale would love to be. It is as uplifting as a stirring Sousa march, and as satisfying as a seven-course meal at the Grand Hotel in Paris, France. It starts like a novel from the nineteenth century, slow and studied, and before you know it, has captured your fancy. Director Gabriel Axel unfolds the story with precision and a careful attention to detail, but ultimately with an invisible simplicity and economy. What he is saying in the end, is what he has the general pronounce after the sensuous meal (which is quite a moral extravagance, perhaps even a sinfulness for the pious flock): "Righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another."

Someday, one hopes in this world, they shall.
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9/10
The feast of life
dbdumonteil29 June 2001
This movie came aside as a shock in the eighties.Far from trends,that is to say in the heart of sincere creativity,Babettes gaestebud stands as one of the finest movies of its time.Stephane Audran,the wonderful actress of her ex-husband Claude Chabrol's greatest achievements (le boucher,la rupture,les noces rouges,all unqualified musts for movie buffs)gave a lifetime performance.To see her prepare with love and affection her meal is a feast for the eyes.All the people who saw this masterpiece actually tasted,ate Babette's culinary triumph. But the most moving part of the story is its conclusion:Babette was a great French chef,she was famous,now she found a new homeland but her heyday is behind her and she won't never be allowed to come back to her dear France.So the two old sisters do comfort her:In heaven,there will be huge kitchens where she'll cook for eternity.While sharing her fortune with her new friends,Babette changed their life,she gave them pleasure and a magic evening they would remember forever.In this simple but extraordinary screenplay,human warmth is everywhere,and I wish everybody a Babette's feast,would it be only for one starry night...
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A French cook/housekeeper is sent to aid a pair of religious Danish sisters who have devoted their lives to the service of God and their small town.
Glenn-3118 January 1999
This delicately told and moving story about the two devout daughters of a Danish Lutheran minister and their French servant is one of the finest European films of the 1980s. Set in a small, remote, austere Danish seaside town in the mid-19th century, the daughters devote their lives to continuing the work of their father in service of God, and in care for their needy townspeople. One of the daughters had turned down a promising opera career -- and the love of her French voice coach (a famous opera singer himself) -- to remain with her father and the town. Many years later the French singer sends a woman (Babette) -- who had lost her family in an outbreak of civil war -- to live with the sisters. She turns out to be an excellent cook, housekeeper and a shrewd shopper. The story culminates in a sumptuous feast prepared by Babette coinciding with a memorial to the reverend minister's 100th birthday. This delicious screenplay was adapted from the Isak Denisson (pen name for Karen Blixen) short story originally published in the Ladies Home Journal.
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10/10
"Give me the chance to do my very best."
sissoed29 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
"Babette's Feast" and "The Horse's Mouth" are the two most insightful, accurate films on what it is to be a real artist. The key lines in "Babette's Feast" are not, as some other commentators here have said, "an artist is never poor," but two lines that come before and after it:

"I was able to make them happy when I gave of my very best. ... Throughout the world sounds one long cry from the heart of the artist: give me the chance to do my very best."

I spent nine years producing experimental multi-media music theater in San Francisco, raising money for productions that involved dozens of singers, actors, designers, etc., and the artists I supported stretched every penny in their effort to do their very best. They were just like Babette: they were desperate to get every dollar necessary to do their very best work. Babette's art is fine French cooking, and for her to perform her art at its very best costs 10,000 francs. When, after years in political exile from France, isolated with two caring spinsters on a bleak Scandinavian coast, she suddenly gets a windfall of 10,000 francs, she does what every real artist would do: she sees that she unexpectedly has the chance to do her very best, and so she does it. She spends all the money so that she can do her very best work as an artist. The twist in the movie is that we don't know she is such an artist, until she is actually cooking and serving the meal. Up until then, she appears to be just a working-class French lady who haggles a bit with the tradesmen, and is very serious (her husband and son were murdered in Paris violence in 1871).

To such an artist, it is secondary whether there is an audience for the art that is competent to appreciate it. That is why the author set this dinner in a community of people who could not possibly have any understanding of what they are receiving. Babette did not cook this meal as a gift to the two spinsters, or to the religious community. It was not her goal to achieve a reconciliation or spirit of good feelings among the members of the little religious sect. Indeed, she never once leaves the kitchen to speak to any of them. After the meal, she is sitting alone, sipping some wine, not paying the slightest attention to how the guests reacted. She is basking in the satisfaction of finally having the chance to have done her best as an artist.

That is why it is so satisfying, and so important to the story, that the General unexpectedly shows up -- for, as Babette knows instantly, a general will know what she has placed before him, and will appreciate it. For there is a sort of tragedy in a great work of art being shown to an audience that lacks even one person competent to appreciate it. She is glad, very glad, he came, in fact he is the only guest she ever mentions during the entire dinner, the only one she singles out for special treatment -- not either of the spinsters. But she did not plan the meal knowing that such a person would come to receive it.

To anyone who has had the chance to enjoy a real first-class Parisian dinner, as I have (my father was Naval Attache to Paris in the 1980s, and I had my honeymoon in France), this dinner, and Babette's satisfaction in making it, and the pleasure it brings to the diners, is absolutely convincing. If any art has the power to suffuse the recipient with a sense of joy, it is a fine French meal cooked and served in France. This movie makes a claim about the transformative effects of great art on the recipients. Before the dinner, the members of the little religious sect are quarrelsome, dredging up old resentments. The old hymns fail to restore good fellowship; people ignore them, talk over them. But the shared experience of sensual great art -- for the people can enjoy the tastes of the foods and wines even if they have no conception that they are experiencing great art -- contents the people, puts them in a forgiving mood, reconciles them, and by making them happy, encourages them to love each other, and thus has a god-like sacred effect of bringing peace. This is the claim found in the modern art movement today -- that art can supplant the traditional religions in making mankind more peaceful. Thus, contrary to those commentators here who say that this film speaks for the power of Christian belief, it is more accurate to say that the film claims that art can heal wounds that Christian ritual cannot. After all my years in the art world, I have to say that this claim -- that art brings peace that religion cannot -- is overblown and invalid. But it is a pretty conceit and it is the second main theme of this beautiful film.

One last note: at Babette's arrival at the spinsters' home, a particular French general, Galliffet, is named as the person who in 1871 executed Babette's husband and son, and imposed a military rule that she had to flee. At the end of the film, as the General tells the story of the magnificent meal he enjoyed in Paris many years before (before 1871), at the conclusion of some military maneuvers, it turns out that this same Galliffet was his host at the meal. As the General tells the story, French general Galliffet praised the chef of that meal as the greatest woman, the only woman he would risk his life for. Of course, that woman was Babette. Thus, ironically, the same French general who said he honored Babette above all other women was responsible for driving her away from France forever.
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10/10
This film says everything there is to say about religion
faraaj-14 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This film says everything there is to say about religion - I wish it were required viewing for all bigots and would-be clericals.

The story, set in a turn-of-the-century Danish villages is about two very religious sisters whose late father was a rigid priest who discouraged all their dreams of love and exploring the world and its many beauty. They are now old and their life and beauty spent. Their quiet new help - whom they "teach" to cook - is Babette (played by the lovely Stephane Audran who graced so many of her husband Claude Chabrol's films). The life in the village is simple and the stark direction reflects that.

When Babette wins the lottery, she requests a chance to prepare a feast - a true labour of love. The course of the feast and its Chief Guest reveal messages of love and spirituality and how there are many ways to love God and life.

This is a must-see for the devotion with which Babette prepares the feast and for the speech the General gives at the end. Possibly the best international film of the 1980's.
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My favorite film!
mspedant12 June 2001
I won't say too much, as other users have spoken in detail about this unforgettable masterpiece. BABETTE'S FEAST is simply the most touching, moving and delicately nuanced film I know of, and the one Scandinavian film which I unhesitatingly urge upon all my acquaintances. With none of Bergman's icy pessimism, this movie is a triumph of the human spirit and of the spirit of selfless love. It is utterly beautiful from beginning to end. It is one of the very greatest of all movies.
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10/10
Spare yet sumptuous
shrine-229 September 2000
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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my favorite movie of all time
kreb820 January 2004
One evening when I was working in the lab, I developed this intense pang of hunger. I decided to go downstairs to the cafeteria and scrap together a dinner when I noticed a few random folk gathered in front of the adjacent theater. Since the building was usually empty by that hour I couldn't help feeling curious and since I always eavesdrop on conversations I soon discovered that they were showing old films in the theater. So, I bought a few vendor snacks and decided to join them for a viewing. That was one of the best work related decisions I ever made as an undergrad. That movie made me reconsider my second shift job at the lab and check out enrollment into the local culinary art schools. Well, I didn't become a chef but I did abandon biology for a more creative outlet and realized that being home before dinner is an important part of better living. Babette's Feast - a movie that had me reevaluate my life and consider a career change. How many flicks do that? Best movie ever.
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8/10
Good Things (like a great meal) Come To Those Who Wait
ccthemovieman-122 January 2007
If you find the first 30 minutes of this film to be so slow that you wonder why you're watching it, don't give up. Also, hearing the Danish language is a bit new to most North Americans, who don't see and hear a lot of Danish films. Anyway, as the film progressed it got better and better and the viewer is rewarded for his/her patience.

Being a fan of the movie, "Out Of Africa," this film piqued my interest because it's based on a short novel by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen), the major character in that film.

The meal - Babette's feast - was amazing. I'm no chef, but I was impressed! How one interprets the story, too, varies, I suppose depending on how much you read into this, and where you stand religion-wise. If the latter, how you look at the definition of "legalism" can affect how you interpret this story.

In any case, it's a fine film, but don't watch this if you're dieting.
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9/10
incredible surprise
daniel Carbajo López21 September 2007
This movie is almost unknown, but it is very good. In a lonely Danish town, two old sisters live remembering a far youths, when, due to a strict puritan education, they had to reject happiness. Lonely, then, the live in a dignified austerity, until Babette, who flies from Paris, frightened by the horror of the war, arrives. In few time, she will be able to turn the goodness and love she received when she arrived. A good lottery prize lets her organize a great banquet, following the best rules of French gastronomy. All neighbourhoods are invited (all fanatically puritans). They accept, but they pact to not show any trace of pleasure or enjoyment, as it would be a sin. However, the seductive force of the delicious meal they eat, that they become seduced by the sensuality of French gastronomy. The banquet end in a very felt, though quietly, happiness. The love between humans has awaken. The miracle of rise the human kindness due to the pleasure of the sense has begun. The movie is surprisingly good, but it is not for all tastes. During most of the movie, nothing happens, all is so quiet and so peaceful, that during many minutes, you can only see the life of the inhabitants of the town. But, as the movie develops, it becomes more precious, when Babette wins the lottery prize (after 30min movie), the show begins. The author is able, with a perfect directing, to show us how Babette prepares the banquet, how she mixes all the ingredients with the most wonderful one (Love), all told in a quiet delicious way, with a perfect knowledge of photography and acting. Then, as the banquet goes by, the quality in showing us how the mood of all eaters changes due to the meal, only with first shots, with impressively filmed scenes one after another is simply astonishing. In addition, the tact with the colours and the photography is also superb, almost every scene of the movie is like a picture, so work is involved there. If you are able to admire good cinema and are able to realize that sometimes the way on telling you something rather than what is told is more important, this is your movie. If you happen to like good meals and just love the good gastronomy, probably, you'll feel amused, as most feelings of the movie will be familiar to you. An Oscar totally deserved. The only problem is its slowness at setting up the story, but, I can forgive it (I hope everyone too)
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10/10
a penniless political refugee from France brings artistry in the form of a feast to those who take her in
barbd22 December 2005
The French Babbette appears at the modest house of two Danish sisters wet, cold, and alone. Fleeing revolution in Paris, she seeks refuge in an obscure religious community on the windswept Jutland coast.

Unbeknownst to those who so generously take her in, she is a great chef, an artist of food. Babette gives herself to her adopted community through thrift, productivity, and shared faith. She leaves only when she wins the French lottery--10,000 francs. She returns laden with exotic cargo, the makings of a single meal commemorating the birthday of the sister's father, the community's founder.

This meal looms darkly in the minds of the pleasure-denying faithful but its subtleties are translated by an aging military officer who, as a young man in Paris, learned to appreciate the sensory experience unfolding here. The meal is the film's climax, a communion of love in the transitory artistry of food--unaffectedly uplifting about art, love, and the meaning of life.
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10/10
Wonderful stuff
Jolasveinar30 May 2006
If not the best movie ever made, "Babette's Feast" is certainly among the most loving. This is a wonderful exploration of the meaning of artistry, generosity, loyalty, and grace. Humor is mixed with tender longing; characters are treated with searching honesty but also deep respect. There are meditations here on memory, fate, old age and faithfulness. Marvellous camera work by cinematographer Henning Kristiansen: seldom have wrinkled faces looked so luminous in the candle-light. The meal is accompanied by delicious period music, Brahms, Mozart and simple folk hymns. Enjoy this feast for the eyes and the spirit, for as the General says: "Mercy and truth have met together, and righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another."
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8/10
Quiet, Calm Movie, Deep Novel, Emotion-Packed
Fabione5 March 2006
It has started quietly. If your are looking for an action-packed movie this is absolutely not the right choice. All characters are slowly depicted on the scene. Stroke after stroke on the scene canvas. None can take away his hands to the priest and so the sisters lifespan devotion can only remain into the village. Philippa and Martina know their destiny, belong only to the village. So when you understand that, you are on the movie scene, in the village that becomes the whole known world in that time. When, no technology can let you imagine anything else than the campaign, the village, the sea. You feel the rhythm of that ancient village's life. Watching the movie in a cold snowy late afternoon can cause you to approach this evening dinner with some sumptuous expectations ...

The final sentence that give a title to Babette's sacrifice far from Paris: An artist is never poor.

Superb photography. Many situations depict portraits and landscapes as they were styled on canvas there, in Jutland, in 18th century.
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10/10
More than a rich seven course dinner.
bandw10 April 2003
This film offers many delights and surprises. When Achille and Philippa beautifully sing a duet from "Don Giovanni" that perfectly describes their situation in the movie, you appreciate the subtle layers of this excellent film. The story unfolds in 18th century Jutland and the use of period music played on period instruments is just one more fine touch. You share General Loewenhielm's exquisite joy in his partaking of the Cailles en Sarcophage even though you are just watching a movie - but you do wish for just a small sample to savor.

Babette is an artist whose medium is food. Perhaps no other art form allows the artist to share her creations so directly.

The main theme of this movie, the potential that the sharing of food has to transform how people see each other and how they see the world, is much the same as the theme of "Chololat," but "Babette's Feast" does not hit you over the head with its message. The townspeople are conservative puritans, but not exaggeratedly oppressive. You come to understand and respect them and ultimately to appreciate their humanity.

Many issues are raised for you to reflect on: the nature of art, the contemplation of paths taken and paths not taken, the relationship between the spiritual and the physical, the effect of environment on behavior, the taking of life to give life, among others.

The only disappointment for me was General Loewenhielm's speech delivered at the climax of the meal. I expected deep heartfelt observations, but I got some vague mystical ramblings. The speech had such a minimal impact that I hardly remember it.

But this understated film leaves a lasting impression. The warmth it generates is in contrast to its austere backdrop. You will leave the theater wanting to go out and dance under the stars.
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10/10
Watch & re-watch it is the only way to get it all.
JJackson014 September 2004
Some have commented on the subtitles not being a problem in this film - I beg to differ - the nuisances in the facial expressions and subtle interactions between the characters is such that you can not afford to take your eyes away for even a fraction of a second. I tried to watch, on the DVD, in English to overcome this problem (don't make this mistake the result is a travesty). The only way to get the full benefit is to watch it two or three times in quick succession so you know it and then ignore the subtitles. An acting master class - not in the dialogue but body language.

It is the little things - the postmaster/shop keeper puffs out his chest and goes in to get his cap before delivering a letter from !France!. The General's bemused expression as his delight in a bunch of perfect grapes elicits a biblical reference with a profundity worthy of 'Being There'.

The cinematography is awesome and the bleak minimalist village with its washed out colour just accentuates the sumptuousness of the feast when it comes. I have a friend who claims to be descended from the Borgias and who's family motto is 'If it is worth doing, it is worth doing to excess' - Amen.

I laugh out loud and cry each time I watch this film
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10/10
Brilliantly Conceived, Handsomly Produced, A Masterpiece
mark-7499 September 2006
A gentle story, hinting at fury, with a redemptive message and glorious celebration. The photography is wondrously well executed. Cinematographers look at this kind of film to hone their craft not just for what the eye can do to enhance a story, but what the right camera vocabulary can do to heighten an emotion. Feeding the soul is by definition what this movie addresses, but with an elegance and grace of delivery that simply doesn't not happen much anymore, at least with this degree of taste, restraint and finesse. If you care about story and character development, this is a also a great movie to see as an example of what simple lines and the right delivery can do to completely fill out a character's impression. Match all this with a film score that is almost minimalist in character and also perfectly conceived, and you'll "get" this movie.
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9/10
A Feast for the Soul
lastliberal4 March 2007
I just watched this film this morning and I found it to be a great showing of the richness of faith. Babette gave them another way to look at life; not a replacement, but an enhancement. She shared all that she had with those who gave what little they had to her. I see the story of God in here. He sent his only son to man. Man could not possibly give anything that would equal that. So, for our small sacrifice, we are given an ultimate treasure and are transformed because of it. In this film the bickering townspeople have so consumed themselves with a small interpretation of God. Babette showed them that life and God can indeed be beautiful in it's fullest sense. The love that God's son showed to man is the love we should show to one another and our lives will be the richer for it. Even the film is a metaphor. It seems slow in the beginning, but the investment of time and attention to detail is rewarded in the end. It was truly a feast.
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10/10
A feast for the soul !
montypython_rocks24 April 2005
This is one of those movies which get better with each viewing. I watched it three times and actually registered on IMDb because I wanted to comment on it. Movies "about food" have been done before, some of them are really good - as, for instance, a certain Japanese comedy which aficionados of Asian cinema will know anyway. But this one really is in its own league. At its core is a protestant Christian parable symbolizing the ideal of kindness but, far from being dogmatic, it also addresses the "good" in each and every of us, regardless of our religious beliefs or lack thereof. There is a pervading understatement and refinement in Babette's Feast but this makes the message of the movie, if anything, stronger, not at all weaker. If you cannot attend the extraordinary physical banquet offered by Babette, you're still welcome to this feast of the soul. Highly recommended!!
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10/10
A masterpiece...
RKIRCHHOFF25 March 2002
Simply one of the greatest films ever made. Worthy of sitting alongside such European masterworks as THE RULES OF THE GAME, GRAND ILLUSION, NOSTALGHIA, ANDREI ROUBLEV, 8 1/2, WINGS OF DESIRE, VIRIDIANA, THE NIGHT OF THE SHOOTING STARS, LA STRADA, ORDET,THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC, THE FOUR HUNDRED BLOWS and MADAME DE... Both a blessing...and an almost perfect work of art.
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