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The 2010 Glen Workshop In Santa Fe, NM

Babette's Feast
Babette's Feast
Directed by Gabriel Axel
Produced by Just Betzer
Bo Christensen
Benni Korzen
Pernille Siesbye
Written by Karen Blixen
Gabriel Axel
Music by Per Nørgaard
Cinematography by Henning Kristiansen
Editing by Finn Henriksen
Release Date 1988
Running Time 102 min.
Language Danish
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Babette's Feast

aka Babettes gaestebud

Behind the film’s deceptively simple story is a sort of parable or fable of religion and life. A voice-over narrator introduces us to a pair of aging sisters, daughters of a now-deceased Protestant minister on the Jutland coast of Denmark, whose names are Martina (Birgitte Federspiel) and Philippa (Bodil Kjer) — “after Martin Luther and his friend, Philip Melanchthon.” These pious sisters lead quiet lives of touching service among their late father’s remaining followers, a handful of older residents of a tiny nineteenth-century coastal settlement that is at once almost a religious community and a sect unto itself.

Babette’s Feast is a feast in itself, for the heart, the senses, and above all the spirit. At the same time, unlike many food-themed films (cf. Like Water for Chocolate; Tortilla Soup), it isn’t a voluptuous or sensual affair. It’s sensitive, funny, hopeful, and ultimately joyous; but there’s a restrained, almost ascetical quality to it, especially in the first half. Even in the climactic feast there is no collapse into epicurian dissolution. Elevation, not self- gratification, is the goal of Babette’s Feast.

Steven D. Greydanus

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