1987 - Dir: Gabriel Axel
Shown in FeckenOdeon 2 on 14th November, 2008
"Babette's Feast" is about edible art - Art with a capital A - a tour de force for the taste buds laid down before neither gourmets nor gourmands, but a sect of gruel-eating puritans. In this piquant Danish drama, an exiled artist confronts the uneducated palate, awakening interest.... if not applause.
"Babette's Feast," a precise and elegant piece, is adapted from Karen Blixens’s (real name Isak Dinesen) short story by director Gabriel Axel, a fellow Dane who, like Dinesen, found inspiration elsewhere. Axel is uniquely suited to this story of a culinary genius who spends 14 years in Jutland smoking cod. And then one day she stuns the taciturn Jutlanders by preparing a mighty feast.
French actress Stéphane Audran is perfection as the enigmatic Parisian Babette, who flees the Communard uprising in 1871 and is taken in by two sisters, Martina (Birgitte Federspiel) and Philippa (Bodil Kjer), the leaders of a small Danish sect. Her handsome face, her voice like a rich sauce and her strong, healthy stride are set against the prettiness and primness of the older but still angelically beautiful Martina. But like the gifted singer Philippa, Babette possesses a great talent denied. The film is beautifully photographed and paced and there’s something about it that makes one appreciative of the good and gentle things in the world - in these "interesting" times it’s perhaps a useful reminder!