Babette's Feast
Stephane Audran as Babette


Best Foreign Film, 1987 - 5 Stars

A Divinely Delicious Tale

Babette's Feast is by Danish director Gabriel Axel, and tells the story of a French woman named Babette (played by Stephane Audran) who shows up one night on the doorstep of two spinster sisters living in far away Jutland toward the end of the 19th century. Since the passing of their revered pastor father, it is all the two women can do to keep his bickering flock together. They agree to take in Babette and make her their housekeeper, and for twenty years she serves them faithfully. Then one day she surprises the sisters by announcing that she has won the French national lottery: 10,000 francs. To show her gratitude to them, and to celebrate the upcoming anniversary of their father's passing, Babette asks to be allowed to prepare a real French meal for the sisters and their guests. They agree, and she sends away to France for the ingredients.

When Babette's nephew returns with all the preparations for the meal, the plain people of the town, who have never seen such things as sea turtles and quails, suspect that she's a witch, and decide they will make no comments about the food during the meal, lest they enjoy it and become bewitched. The night of the feast is spectacular. Never have any of them tasted such divinity. One of the guests, a General who once courted one of the sisters and is still in love with her, comments about how the food tastes just like the delicacies he once enjoyed at a very famous Parisian restaurant which boasted a lady chef. Miraculously, Babette's feast heals all wounds among the pastor's congregation, and confirms the love the General has always harbored for the sister, and she for him. A very beautiful scene is the congregation outside after the feast with hands joined in a circle, singing under the stars.

Afterwards, the two sisters comment that they suppose Babette will now return to France. "I have no one there anymore," she tells them. "Besides, I have no money to return." "But the 10,000 francs you won!" they contend. Then Babette confesses that she was the famous female chef to which the General eluded, and that a meal at her restaurant for that number of people would have cost exactly 10,000 francs. This is a wonderful, beautiful film that is an allegory of the Lord's Supper, and an example of God's grace and love. If you like food, you will love every delicious detail of the feast. The film is subtitled for English, but also includes a dubbed version which I would not recommend because I think the film loses much through it. Endure the subtitles - it will be worth it. Babette's Feast, which is based on a novel by Karen Blixen, won a well-deserved Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, plus ten other awards. Rated G.


Waitsel Smith, March 31, 2009


[Send me yours and I'll include them on this page.]

Has always been one of my favorites. I dragged different friends to see it until I had seen it five times. Such a tale of loving people. Thanks for recommending it so many others might enjoy! - Marci, Atlanta

Text © 2009 Waitsel Smith. Images © 1987 MGM Studios. All Rights Reserved.

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