7.8/10
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107 user 80 critic

Babette's Feast (1987)

Babettes gæstebud (original title)
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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:

Gabriel Axel

Writers:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Stéphane Audran ... Babette Hersant (as Stephane Audran)
Bodil Kjer Bodil Kjer ... Filippa
Birgitte Federspiel ... Martine
Jarl Kulle ... General Lorens Löwenhielm / Löwenhielm's Father
Jean-Philippe Lafont ... Achille Papin (as Jean Philippe Lafont)
Bibi Andersson ... Swedish Lady-in-Waiting
Ghita Nørby Ghita Nørby ... Narrator (voice)
Asta Esper Hagen Andersen Asta Esper Hagen Andersen ... Anna (as Asta Esper Andersen)
Thomas Antoni Thomas Antoni ... Swedish Lieutenant
Gert Bastian Gert Bastian ... Poor Man
Viggo Bentzon Viggo Bentzon ... Fisherman in Rowboat
Vibeke Hastrup ... Young Martine
Therese Højgaard Christensen Therese Højgaard Christensen ... Martha - Father's Maid
Pouel Kern Pouel Kern ... Pastor
Cay Kristiansen 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:

Drama

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Denmark

Language:

Danish | Swedish | French | Italian | English

Release Date:

4 March 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Babette's Feast See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$4,398,938
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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 »

Goofs

In 1871 Babette pays with Skilling, which was the currency used at that time; 14 years later, Babette still uses Skilling, but Denmark changed the currency in 1875 from skilling to kroner and orer. 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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Connections

Featured in The 79th Annual Academy Awards (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Food For Body and Soul
17 May 2005 | by gftbiloxiSee all my reviews

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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