“Every evening I shall sit down to dine with you. Not with my body, which is of no importance, but with my soul.
Because this evening I have learned, my dear, that in this beautiful world of ours, all things are possible.”
In the town of Jutland, Denmark in the 19th Century, Martine (Federspiel) and Filippa (Kjer) are two sisters who live a very religious, pious life. Their father is a priest and prophet with a small group of devout followers. Love and marriage is forbidden. The young sisters must come to learn the hard way. Lorens, a young Swedish officer, catches the eye of Martine but knows he cannot have her. He leaves for war but cannot get her off his mind. Achille Pepin, a baritone opera singer, travels to Jutland while performing to cure his melancholic state. He gets transfixed by the melodious sounds coming from a far. He enters the church and is immediately transfixed by Filippa’s beauty. He approaches her father and offers his services of voice lessons to Filippa in order to woo her. He agrees, only to realize what Achille’s true intention happens to be. Achille and Filippa share a duet as Father and Martine listen on in the other room. He promises to sweep her away to move on to a better life. Filippa stops their lessons and Achille is heartbroken.
Decades later, the sisters are still living together having never given into a life of love with their suitors. They take in a young woman during a storm one night. In a letter she hands them, she reveals she had to flee from Paris as the war was continuing on. Her husband and son have been killed. The letter also reveals she has been sent to them specifically by Achille. The sisters warn her that they cannot employ her, but she can stay with them. Fourteen years pass and the sisters have grown old and Babette still cooks for them. The townspeople seem to revel in Babette’s cooking and what she has done for the sisters. They try to carry on the religion their father started despite the fact that the members of the flock who are left are growing older and more rigid in life. Babette asks them if she can cook a full French dinner for the flock to celebrate the birthday of their late father. She offers to pay for the whole meal and do the preparations by herself. With some reluctance, the sisters oblige and allow Babette to make this fanciful dinner. She takes a few days off and returns with all of the ingredients for the dinner. Live quails, a turtle, and red wine are just some of the ingredients and supplies she comes back with for this monumental occasion. The sisters grow weary of what may come of this dinner. They warn the flock to be prepared of the luxurious dinner. The sisters receive word that a certain person from the past will be coming for dinner as well. The guests arrive and are pleasantly surprised by the fanciful table settings of fine linens, candles, and decorations. They are in for a treat as they take their fist sip of turtle soup and drink their first glass of wine.
What is it about French cooking that continually fascinates us? Is it because it always seems so decadent and fancy? Is it because it seems time consuming which means it must be exquisite? I get fixated whenever I watch someone make a French cuisine. Babette’s Feast is one of the better foodie movies I’ve seen. It won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Don’t let the fact that it is a foreign movie scare you away. There are so many hidden foreign gems that I think get missed when we look for the latest new release at the theater or on our Netflix queue. I have been meaning to watch more foreign selections, so this was the perfect choice for Unleash Your Inner Foodie. In today’s kitchens, we have gadgets and tools galore that crowd our cupboards and collect dust on our shelves. We get excited every time we go into a kitchen store and feel the need to buy some new tool. Babette has none of these amenities, yet creates a bountiful feast for the guests. I think when you watch this movie; you’ll come away with a warm heart and smile on your face. You may even feel inspired to bring a group of close friends together for a feast that you cook. Impress them with new recipes mixed with some of the favorites that you have mastered for a multi-course meal that will leave you and your guests with memories to share. Don’t feel rushed or pressured with each course. There will be plenty of dialogue and laughter throughout the meal to make the time pass.
Paul mcGuire, Movie Critic