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Babette's Feast

Babette's Feast

4.5 7
Director: Gabriel Axel

Cast: Stéphane Audran, Jean-Philippe Lafont, Gudmar Wivesson


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The Danish/French Babette's Feast is based on a story by Isak Dinesen, also the source of the very different Out of Africa (1985). Stephane Audran plays Babette, a 19th century Parisian political refugee who seeks shelter in a rough Danish coastal town. Philippa (Bodil Kjer) and Martina (Birgitte Federspiel), the elderly daughters of the town's long-dead


The Danish/French Babette's Feast is based on a story by Isak Dinesen, also the source of the very different Out of Africa (1985). Stephane Audran plays Babette, a 19th century Parisian political refugee who seeks shelter in a rough Danish coastal town. Philippa (Bodil Kjer) and Martina (Birgitte Federspiel), the elderly daughters of the town's long-dead minister, take Babette in. As revealed in flashback, Philippa and Martina were once beautiful young women (played by Hanne Stensgaard and Vibeke Hastrup), who'd forsaken their chances at romance and fame, taking hollow refuge in religion. Babette holds a secret that may very well allow the older ladies to have a second chance at life. This is one of the great movies about food, but there are way too many surprises in Babette's Feast to allow us to reveal anything else at this point (except that Ingmar Bergman "regulars" Bibi Andersson and Jarl Kulle have significant cameo roles)..

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
An entrancingly bittersweet and comedic blend of austerity and opulence, Babette's Feast -- which won the 1987 Oscar for Best Foreign Film -- is a delightful combination of the talents of Danish director Gabriel Axel and the luminous French actress Stéphane Audran. Set on the bleak Jutland Peninsula in the 1870s, the film revolves around two spinster sisters (Bodil Kjer and Brigitte Federspiel) who maintain the strict religious philosophy of their late father, and Babette (Audran), a Parisian refugee who turns up on their doorstep seeking refuge and becomes their cook and housekeeper. Fourteen years elapse before it is revealed that Babette is a cordon bleu cook -- a fact that leads to a cathartic event for her, her employers, and the community. This superb adaptation of an Isak Dinesen novella remains true to its literary source, and Axel's cinematic flourishes (particularly the deftly deployed flashbacks) are as exquisitely delicious as the titular repast itself. Subtle, warm, and altogether engaging, Babette's Feast is a film about missed chances that is not to be missed.
All Movie Guide - Dan Jardine
The sophisticated and subtle screenplay for Babette's Feast, adapted by director Gabriel Axel, is based on a story written by Isak Dinesen, the writer memorably played by Meryl Streep in the biopic Out of Africa. In the film's first half, the emotional detachment of the pious characters is mirrored in the directorial approach, which allows the narrator to explain the matters before us, keeping us at a distance. When the feast begins, the narrator steps aside, Axel's direction becomes more evocative, and our participation becomes more active. Axel plays things low-key: his camera doesn't swoop or dance, but lingers lovingly over every aspect of the meal. The soundtrack includes some beautiful period music, but Axel mostly allows the sounds of the meal to become the symphony of the feast. Made out of humility and love, the feast is Babette's supreme artistic expression, and her hedonistic present encourages the feasters to look a little more closely at their own lives, as the magical and voluptuous feast dramatically counterpoints their puritanical existence. Babette's offering is a ritual sacrifice, intended to encourage the austere characters with the possibility that their material nourishment may provide spiritual sustenance as well. The film also contains a cultural context, as the political revolutions in 19th century Europe lead to Babette's displacement and the resultant cultural blending of Babette's southern European Catholic sensuality with sober northern European Protestantism. Their pact, to say nothing about the magnificence of the feast, ironically reveals the ineffable truth that Babette's artistic expression of love cannot be properly praised with words. Like the guests' spiritual values, it exists on a higher plane, where simple acts of generosity can erase personal prejudices. The film leaves us with a haunting echo of the roads not taken, as the characters must ponder the paths they have chosen and ask themselves: have they made the most of their gifts? Babette's Feast won several major awards, including the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film and the British BAFTA Award for Best Film of 1987.

Product Details

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[Full Frame]
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Special Features

New interviews with director Gabriel Axel and actor Stéphane Audran Karen Blixen-Storyteller, a 1995 documentary about the author of the film's source story, who wrote under the pen name Isak Dinesen New visual essay by filmmaker Michael Almereyda New interview with sociologist Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson about the significance of cuisine in French culture Trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Stéphane Audran Babette Hersant
Jean-Philippe Lafont Achille Papin
Gudmar Wivesson Lorenz Lowenhielm as a Young Man
Jarl Kulle Lorenz Lowenhielm as an old man
Bibi Andersson Swedish Court Lady-in-waiting
Bodil Kjer Old Philippa
Birgitte Federspiel Old Martina
Ebbe Rode Christopher
Hanne Stensgaard Young Philippa
Bendt Rothe Old Nielsen
Vibeke Hastrup Young Martina
Lisbeth Movin The Widow
Pouel Kern The Vicar
Michel Bouquet Narrator
Ghita Nørby Narrator
Tina Kiberg Philippa [singing]
Axel Ströbye Driver
Ebba With Lorens' Aunt
Else Petersen Solveig
Asta Esper Andersen Anna
Finn Nielsen Grocer
Holger Perfort Karlsen
Erik Petersen Young Erik
Lars Lohmann Fisherman
Tine Miehe-Renard Lorens' wife
Preben Lerdorff-Rye Kaptajnen
Thomas Antoni Swedish Lieutenant
Gert Bastian Poor Man
Viggo Bentzon Fisherman in Rowboat
Therese Hojgaard Christensen Martha
Cay Kristiansen Poul
Bernadette Lafont Actor

Technical Credits
Gabriel Axel Director,Screenwriter
Henning Bahs Special Effects
Just Betzer Co-producer
Elisabeth Bukkehave Makeup
Bo Christensen Co-producer
Sanna Dandanell Makeup
Michael Dela Sound/Sound Designer
Annelise Hauberg Costumes/Costume Designer
Tom Hedegaard Asst. Director
Finn Henriksen Editor
Grethe Hollenfer Makeup
Henning Kristiansen Cinematographer
Karl Lagerfeld Costumes/Costume Designer
Bente Moller Makeup
Pia Myrdal Costumes/Costume Designer
Lene Nielsen Production Manager
Per Nørgård Score Composer
Lydia Pujol Makeup
Birthe Lyngsoe Sorensen Makeup
Ase Tarp Makeup
Sven Wichmann Art Director,Production Designer


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Babette's Feast 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
bookluvinprof More than 1 year ago
This has been one of my favorite movies for a long time. Based on a story by Isak Dinesen, it tells the story of two sisters, daughters of a minister, who gave up their chances of worldly success and love for lives of self-sacrifice and renunciation. They support, and then continue, their father's ministry and charitable works. Later in life, they take in an addition to their household: a mysterious French refugee named Babette, who enables their charitable work by devotedly cooking, cleaning, and serving them. After winning the lottery, Babette asks to serve the sisters and their guests a 'French dinner.' The sisters dread that this decadent French feast will be sinful and shocking, but it turns out to be a revelation of the spiritual and material in harmony.
DocMac More than 1 year ago
A gifted women seeks refuge from social upheaval in France in a remote Danish village, home to an austere, but generous Christian sect. Unmarried sisters whose religious and family devotion has cost them the opportunity to pursue their own love shelter this gifted chef to the advantage of the whole community who benefit from her culinary talents. Babette heals, becomes involved in the community, and tries to show her gratitude to the people with a magnificent feast when she comes into an unexpected windfall. This gift is received with mixed feelings by the people who pride themselves on resisting the pleasures of the flesh.
Monastic_Vow More than 1 year ago
Pointed toward the eucharist, but also the promised meal in heaven, this film inspires the grace it discusses. I think its the best film ever made and I thank God for the odd way it came to my attention. Hallelujah!
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