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Babette's Feast
Stephane Audran and Jean-Philippe Lafont




Overview -
This Academy Award-winner for Best Foreign Language Film was a big art house hit, spawning a whole international subgenre, "foodie" (films about the liberating effects of good food). It's adapted from a story by Isak Dinesen about two sisters in a 19th century Calvinist settlement in Denmark who, under their late father's rigorous spiritual dictates, pass up their chances for romance and worldly success. Years pass; they grow into charitable old spinsters and one day a French war refugee, Babette (St├ęphane Audran), comes to work for them. Life goes quietly one for years until one day Babette decides to prepare a lavish gourmet dinner for the elders of the town, even though the thought of such decadence makes the sisters fear for their Christian souls. This all may sound rather dull to some viewers, but rest assured, no one who has seen this film has ever regretted it. Even with its measured pacing and austere emotional palette this remains a riveting experience from the first frame to the last. The acting is marvelously naturalistic, and the cinematography evokes the dark beauty of 19th century Scandinavian paintings, rendering the ancient, white-whiskered faces of the villagers, the windswept coastline, the wood-hewn interiors, and of course the incredible food, with a vital, deeply felt reverence that lingers in the mind long after the film is over.

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DVD (Criterion Collection)
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More About Babette's Feast

 
 
 

Overview

This Academy Award-winner for Best Foreign Language Film was a big art house hit, spawning a whole international subgenre, "foodie" (films about the liberating effects of good food). It's adapted from a story by Isak Dinesen about two sisters in a 19th century Calvinist settlement in Denmark who, under their late father's rigorous spiritual dictates, pass up their chances for romance and worldly success. Years pass; they grow into charitable old spinsters and one day a French war refugee, Babette (St├ęphane Audran), comes to work for them. Life goes quietly one for years until one day Babette decides to prepare a lavish gourmet dinner for the elders of the town, even though the thought of such decadence makes the sisters fear for their Christian souls. This all may sound rather dull to some viewers, but rest assured, no one who has seen this film has ever regretted it. Even with its measured pacing and austere emotional palette this remains a riveting experience from the first frame to the last. The acting is marvelously naturalistic, and the cinematography evokes the dark beauty of 19th century Scandinavian paintings, rendering the ancient, white-whiskered faces of the villagers, the windswept coastline, the wood-hewn interiors, and of course the incredible food, with a vital, deeply felt reverence that lingers in the mind long after the film is over.

Awards:
1987 - Academy Awards - Best Foreign Language Film Winner

Main Cast & Crew

Gabriel Axel - Director
Stephane Audran
Jean-Philippe Lafont
Jarl Kulle
Gudmar Wivesson
Bibi Andersson
Birgitte Federspiel
Bodil Kjer

 

Details

DVD Format
  • Format: DVD (Criterion Collection)
  • Run Time: 104
  • Color Format: Color
  • UPC: 715515132718
  • Genre: Drama
  • Rating: G (MPAA)
  • Release Date: January 2001

Related Categories:
Movies > Foreign Films
Movies > Danish

Related Keywords:
Tear Jerker
Recommended
Character Study
Bucolic
Heartwarming
Theatrical Release
France
Essential Cinema

 

Movie Reviews

More Details

Reviews:
"...A very handsome, very literary movie that does justice to the precision of [Dinesen]....Audran dominates..." - 10/01/1987 New York Times, p.C22


"...Axel succeeds where it really counts. On the screen he serves up the famous dinner with vigor and in enough juicy detail to send audiences away longing to partake in similar haute cuisine..." - 05/06/1987 Variety


"...This is a movie to be savored with a hungry mind and a clear palate..." - 07/01/1987 Film Comment, p.60-5


"...The delectable BABETTE'S FEAST is a fable told with passion, intelligence and sumptuousness....It's a deep reverence to all great artists..." - 03/25/1988 Los Angeles Times, p.C1


"...Stephane Audran, a staple of French films two decades ago, plays the title culinary artist. Sublime..." - 03/31/1989 Chicago Bulletin, p.3D


"Axel's elegant film, based on a novella by Isak Dinesen, is a subtle exploration of self-denial..." - 10/01/2002 Sight and Sound, p.62


"...A lottery ticket to culinary paradise..." - 11/28/2003 Entertainment Weekly, p.106


4 stars out of 5 -- "Audran is luminous as the centre of a gentle, generous film about grace." - 01/01/2013 Total Film

 

BAM Customer Reviews