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Babette's Feast

4.7 out of 5 stars 471 customer reviews

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(Jan 23, 2001)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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

Some movies can only be described as delicious. In Babette's Feast, a woman flees the French civil war and lands in a small seacoast village in Denmark, where she comes to work for two spinsters, devout daughters of a puritan minister. After many years, Babette unexpectedly wins a lottery, and decides to create a real French dinner--which leads the sisters to fear for their souls. Joining them for the meal will be a Danish general who, as a young soldier, courted one of the sisters, but she turned him away because of her religion. The village elders all resolve not to enjoy the meal, but can their moral fiber resist the sensual pleasure of Babette's cooking? Babette's Feast deservedly won the 1987 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. This lovely movie is impeccably simple, yet its slender narrative contains a wealth of humor, melancholy, and hope. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Stéphane Audran, Bodil Kjer, Birgitte Federspiel, Jarl Kulle, Jean-Philippe Lafont
  • Directors: Gabriel Axel
  • Writers: Gabriel Axel, Karen Blixen
  • Producers: Benni Korzen, Bo Christensen, Just Betzer, Pernille Siesbye
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Letterboxed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), Danish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    General Audience
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: January 23, 2001
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (471 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000053VBK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,376 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Babette's Feast" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
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.
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Format: DVD
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!
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Format: DVD
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.
Read more ›
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"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.
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