Thursday, December 8, 2011

Babette's Feast

"Babette's Feast" is a Danish film from the late 80's that is about the confluence of Christianity, tolerance, and art. The first section of the film examines life in a rather hard-line Protestant community in northern Jutland. Two spinster sisters have a French emigre (who left France for political reasons) as their servant. There is a very palpable feeling of distance not only between the Catholic Frenchwoman (Babette) and the Protestant community, but between the members of the community themselves. They've taken the most divisive interpretations of their pastor's teachings to heart.

In the course of time, Babette wins the French National Lottery (her nephews(?) enter her every year), and she elects to spend all the money on one luxurious, perfect meal that slowly, inexorably breaks down the divisions between the people in the community, their understanding of the demands that their religion places on them change entirely in the face of the incredible beauty of this feast and the act of generosity on the part of Babette. This has got to be one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen, not so much because of its cinematography or mise-en-scene, but because of the feeling of absolute warmth it projects.

This is the feast scene itself, broken into two parts. Important background information: the members of the community, used to self-denial, have sworn not to enjoy the decadent and, in their minds, decidedly Catholic meal.

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