Joanne Harris was one of the first, or maybe even the very first, to make food novels trendy in the late 1990s. Her novel Chocolat was a huge success, and was soon made into a film. It won five Oscar nominations, though many critics found it just a little too easy to digest. The director, Lasse Hallström, chose two féted global stars to play the title roles (Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp). The story wasn't overcomplicated. Chocolat is a fantastical little drama, which dips in and out of... magical realism and is at times a straight-up fairy-tale. Its strength and impact lie rather in the fact that the fate of the protagonists functions as a moral parable. A parable about uplifting faith, virtue and sin, desire, temptation, human warmth, impatience and acceptance. And also about power, which the pleasures of language attempt to conquer. And - terrible as it is to say! - about how life can get better. It's safe to say that this was not an earth-shattering message in the year 2000, just a sweet one.
Since then, the world has changed somewhat. And not necessarily for the better. The musings of Chocolat on the abuse of faith, and intolerance - including religious dogmatism - today seem more relevant than ever. Human warmth, identity and perhaps freedom itself are now seen in a different light. It is possible that today, when we once again take a nibble from Hallström's film, the flavour, the aroma, will be somewhat different. So let's put our lips to the cup again, to caress it, to savour the taste of that decidedly scalding chilli hot chocolate!
Presented by: Müpa Budapest
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