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Babette's Feast
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Babette's Feast

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Artistic, sensual and sacred passions unite in Babette's Feast. Written and directed by Gabriel Axel, from a short story by Out of Africa's Isak Dinesen, this Oscar(r)-winning*film offers "an irresistible mixture of dry wit and robust humanity" (Newsweek). Onthe desolate coast of Denmark live Martina and Philippa, the beautiful daughters of a devout clergyman who preaches salvation through self-denial. Both girls sacrifice youthful passion to faith and duty, and even many years after their father's death, they keep his austere teachings alive among thetownspeople. But with the arrival of Babette, a mysterious refugee from France's civil war, life for the sisters and their tiny hamlet begins to change. Soon, Babette has convinced them to try something truly outrageousa gourmet French meal! Her feast, of course, scandalizes the local elders. Just who is this strangely talented Babette, who has terrified this pious town with the prospect of losing their souls for enjoying too much earthly pleasure? *1987: Foreign Language Film

Product Details:
Actors: St├ęphane Audran, Bodil Kjer, Birgitte Federspiel, Jarl Kulle, Jean-Philippe Lafont
Director: Gabriel Axel
Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Letterboxed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Language: Danish
Subtitle: English, Spanish, French
Number of Discs: 1
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Run Time: 102 minutes
DVD Release Date: January 23, 2001
Average Customer Rating: based on 333 reviews
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Customer Reviews:
Average Customer Review:4.5 ( 333 customer reviews )
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

378 of 386 found the following review helpful:

55-Star Meal, 5-Star Cinema  Nov 18, 2001
By Jane Guerrero
The feast of the title doesn't take place until well into the film. In fact, the majority of the film is spent telling the story of 2 godly sisters and the choices they made in life. Both sisters passed up true love and the promise of success in order to remain faithful to their religious beliefs. Instead they pass their lives assisting their minister father and carry on his work after his death. They continue their quiet lives past mid-life until one of the sisters' former suitors sends them a Parisian refugee, Babette. Babette spends 14 years with the sisters as cook, her only link to her former life being a lottery ticket that a friend in Paris renews for her every year. One day she wins the lottery and decides to use the money to prepare a sumptous dinner for the sisters and their small congregation. More than just an epicurean delight the feast is an outpouring of Babette's gratitude.
If the plot sounds thin, be assured it's anything but. The story is as rich and satisfying as the feast Babette prepares. We see the delicate romances that develop for each sister and understand their reasons for turning their suitors away. We see the lives the sisters, and their men, have led after making their decision. The feast comes at a time when the sisters are asking themselves questions that they never voice: Did they make the right decision all those years ago? Was it worth it? Reassurance comes in an unexpected and exquisitely romanitc way.
This film is such a wonderful example of what happens when filmmakers are interested in telling a good story and telling it well. It doesn't follow a 'formula' or cater to a demographic and is a perfect example of why independent and foreign films are so much more satisfying than Hollywood movies.

128 of 129 found the following review helpful:

5AN EXQUISITE MOVIE THAT GREATLY BENEFITS FROM DVD!  Feb 01, 2001
By Claude Bouchard "Eurodancemix"
I don't think I can add any more information about the wonderful story itself in light of all the superlative reviews found here. If you've seen it, you know it's a classic that is definitely worth owning, to be viewed and enjoyed repeatedly. If you've never seen Babette's Feast, you owe it to yourself to see it and find out what people mean when they say they experience a film. Yes, it's that good and that powerful. And the best part of it all: no guns, no explosions, no sex, no vulgarity.
The DVD is, without a doubt, THE format for this movie. The print has been considerably cleaned up and brightened. What a difference with my "old" fuzzy VHS copy! The widescreen format benefits this film tremendously. The sound is crisp and even, with no sudden drops or surges in volume. The DVD offers three language tracks: the original Danish/French, English, and Spanish. I personally recommend that you keep the Danish/French track with English subtitles. It's the only real way to convey the full meaning and emotions of the story. Avoid the English track at all costs: it's unbelievably bland and emotionless (thereby removing any and all subtleties and charm from this superb story) and it's muffled. I did not check out the Spanish track.
Worth much more than "just" 5 stars!

247 of 264 found the following review helpful:

5But this really *is* Caille en Sarcophage!  Jul 03, 2002
By Sammy Jo "sammy_jo"
For years I had heard that this was a good movie, but I resisted seeing it. How could a Danish movie about a dinner be all that compelling? I finally broke down and rented it - and watched it, stunned. This is truly a great film.
The story is simple. Two pious Danish sisters hire a French maid, Babette, out of a sense of charity. Fourteen years later, Babette wins the lottery. Out of her winnings, she proposes to serve the sisters and their fellow religionists a meal.
The film is simple. And like all things that are truly simple, it is a very, very rich feast.
The film can be enjoyed on many levels, but it is an overtly Christian film; and the feast is the Lord's Supper. Babette's gift to the sisters and their community is the gift of grace. Unasked for, unearned, and of inestimable value.
The sisters were daughters of a stern Protestant who had formed a devout community. When the sisters were young and beautiful, they were each tempted by the chance to have great love and success outside their community. But they remained loyal to their father and their faith. After their father died, they carried on with their faith community. But as the years passed by, bickering and dissension set in.
One rainy day, there is a knock on the door and Babette appears in their doorway. She has a letter of introduction from one of the sister's old love, and they decide to take her in. Babette quietly makes herself indispensable to the sisters and the entire village. One day, she wins the lottery, and the sisters assume that she will now leave them. Before leaving them, however, she insists on serving them a proper French meal.
The meal itself is the center of the film, and during that meal all the threads of the film are richly woven together. The pious sisters and their community finally learn the true depths of faith - something which is more than just what we believe, but rather also reflects what we do and the love with which we do it. They are twelve to supper, and that number is no accident. Nor is the grace that flows through that meal. Any Christian can appreciate its significance. And anyone who loves the Eucharist can only smile in joy, when one of the guests identifies the main dish as "Caille en Sarcophage" (Quail in a sarcophagus.) He retails a story of the time he ate this extraordinary meal in a fine Parisian restaurant. The other guests smile, but miss his drift. And he exclaims, "But this really *is* Caille en Sarcophage!" They still do not understand, but the meal works its magic nonetheless.
This is a film of the sacramental vision - God's rich love reaching out to us body and soul.

39 of 42 found the following review helpful:

5Bursting with religious symbolism and metaphor  Feb 02, 2006
By HistoryBuff
"Babette's Feast" is one of my favorite films. I haven't read all the reviews that have been posted so I don't know if anyone has mentioned it already, but this film is bursting with Christian symbolism and metaphor, particularly of the Eucharist.

I am not referring to the pious sisters and their fellow congregants; I am referring to the arrival, service, and sacrifice of Babette, who can be seen as a Christ-figure. She comes as an exile to a lowly place and spends her life in uncomplaining service to the two sisters. Then she sacrifices everything she has to create a feast which transforms its (undeserving) partakers into people able to leave pettiness behind and "have life more abundantly." And she begrudges none of it.

I am not especially religious, but these things always come to mind when I watch this film. It is a pure delight, with a transforming message.

17 of 17 found the following review helpful:

5I love love love this movie  Oct 25, 2006
By Janice M. Mahon
I owned the video for several years and then I purchased the DVD. This movie is on my top ten favorite movies.

I was surprised when I first purchased the video that the story was by the great Isak Dinsen who wrote Out of Africa. I won't elaborate on the other reviewers who succinctly posted their thoughts, but I agree with most of them that this is one of the most beautiful movies ever made.

From the first moments of the film where we are introduced to the sisters and their minister father who live in a desolate town on the coast of Denmark and then to the "feast" itself, I was totally entranced. The scenery was bleak but beautiful, as was the total dedication of this family to the people in this small community.

The part of Babette was played by the glorious French actress Stephane Audran. You may have seen in her in many French movies, one in particular, Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, and as the mistress of Lawrence Olivier in Bridehead Revisited. Could anyone be so wonderfully French! And so beautiful!

The scenes in the small kitchen where Babette cooks her "feast" are undeniably the highlight of the film. I felt like I was there in the kitchen with them with the scents and the heat from the oven. The poor turtle (did they really cook it?), the squabs, the delicious wines. The looks on the faces of the religious communants when they sampled all of the wonderful dishes along with the wonderful wines.

And the ending, which I won't give away here. But it was very heartwarming and funny! Needless to say, this is a movie that should be in everyone's collection who love classic movies. And this is, in my estimation, a real classic.

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