There are some films which have to be savoured slowly and carefully, giving us time to relish their full flavour and aroma. The Oscar-winning Babette's Feast, an adaptation of Karen Blixen's novel, is just such a film. Babette escapes from the ravages of the Paris Commune to Jutland in Denmark, where the refugee finds herself in the midst of a Puritan Lutheran community. She finds work as a servant for two elderly sisters. And then she gives something to these people — closed off from the world and from passion, living on their memories, both good and bad — making them capable of seeing themselves and their lives in a different light. It is the gift of artists. Yet no one would imagine that this film would be a mere parable of the power of the artist. It is full of questions which are difficult to answer and still troublesome today, as the plot sees Catholicism meet Protestantism in a meditation on the conscious choice of withdrawing from the world or taking an active part in the commotion of real life. It is about this world and the next. A life free from passion and the possibility of a life full of sense and sensibility. And Babette, who was a gourmet Paris chef in an earlier period of her life, and who, by means of a lavish feast, manages to touch the souls of people who had - apparently - forever closed the door to their true selves.
The more we taste of Babette's Feast, the more profound the story becomes. The film, directed by Gabriel Axel, shouldn't really be understood through the like/dislike dichotomy. And, at least for now - hopefully - there is no algorithm available which can automatically, with clicking and shopping and voting, serve up such curiosities as reconciliation, forgiveness, mercy and empathy. In other words, we still have the chance to have a good sit down and tell each other what we think of it.
Presented by: Müpa Budapest
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