English Title: Babette’s Feast
Original Title: Babettes gæstebud
Language: Danish, Swedish, French
Genre: Drama, Music
Director: Gabriel Axel
Music: Per Nørgaard
Cinematography: Henning Kristiansen
Asta Esper Hagen Andersen
A tribute to the late Danish director Gabriel Axel, BABETTE’S FEAST is the paramount legacy left by him to us, an Academy BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE PICTURE winner, a chant implies us what sense of taste could evoke a religious epiphany. It is a ritually ceremonious fare renders us warmth and serenity without the customary sanctimony or doctrinaire preaching, a crowd-pleaser dauntingly satiates the audience’s aesthetics irrespective of their religious disparities.
A dour and self-sacrificing manner of living in an isolated village, Flippa (Kjer) and Martine (Federspiel) are two spinster sisters adhere to the holy cause of their late father (Kern), sermonize local believers. Narrated by a poised and tranquilizing voiceover, through Flippa and Martine’s episodic and never-fully-blossomed romance with two gentlemen in their youth, not only we witness their tested devotedness to the conviction, but also it gently sets the context for the arrival of Babette (Audran), a French fugitive seeks for refugee during the wartime, who voluntarily serves the sisters as a housemaid, until she wins a lottery and decides to prepare a genuine French feast for the sisters and their followers, who are dumbfounded at the sheer exotic and exquisite banquet, and the comical and scintillating vibes of their apprehension towards the unknown treat and protean reactions after savoring each course are depicted in a self-effacing but divinely innocuous mode. We might not all enthusiasts of French cuisine, however, the contradiction can never be more wisely enjoyable.
The performances are rigidly rehearsed, a mite of histrionics but overall, there are nothing but amiable characters, Audran imbues a underplayed enactment of a woman afflicted by the most atrocious trauma, but hides them all under her worldly facade, even in a foreign country, she spunkily embraces her life without compromise. Kjer and Federspiel pair up harmoniously in their saint-like personae, embody all the virtues with compelling grace and benevolence. Jarl Kulle uniformly eloquent as Gen. Lorens Löwenhielm, a true gourmet guides the devotees into an emulating farce of a viscerally gustatory escapade, and the real-life baritone Jean-Philippe Lafont imprints a gleeful tonality as a maestro stumbles on a hidden gem which contritely he can never possess.
It is simply a winsome bucolic prose with minimal adornment, encompassed with pictorial shots of rural scenery, still-life scrutiny and rigorous portrayal, enchants us with empyrean hymns, but emotionally BABETTE’S FEAST is immensely opulent, an ethereal fable oozes humanity and compassion can feasibly strike a chord in any heart with perspicacious pulsation, RIP Gabriel Axel, may thou will be feted with a feast in heaven too.