food in the arts





art and food

Dir: Gabriel Axel/ Prods: Just Betzer and Bo Christensen/ Scrn: Gabriel Axel/ Danish and French with English subtitles/ 102 mins/ 1987

literature and food

music and food

Babette's Feast   photography and food
Books about Babette's Feast
Babette's Feast (dvd UK)
scandinavian food
extract from the film
Babette's Feast (dvd USA) 

Gabriel Axel's adaptation of an Isak Dinesen story contrasts the sumptuous cuisine of Anna Karina's former Parisian chef with the simple asceticism of the nuns whom she serves. Here, potential excess and gluttony are sublimated into sacrifice and sacrament. Blessed are the frugal, Axel implies, for they shall be rewarded by an ultimate feast.

The preparation of the meal is magnificent, the photography is wonderful, all the shots of the live quails and sea turtle show just what a feast the two elderly sisters will be treated to. The shots of the dough being cut and shaped and the quail being plucked are wonderful. The real visual feast is at the table as the guests start their meal. The soup is real turtle and the finest wines and champagnes are served. The dinner scene is hilarious as the people begin to enjoy the meal despite their solemn vow not to. The next course includes Blinis Demidoff and lasts only a short time as the guests devour it. One particularly funny scene involves a pious elderly woman; she takes a sip of palate-cleansing water and grimaces with disappointment when she realizes it is just water and proceeds to rapidly drink some more wine instead. In between courses their glasses are filled with fine wines. The next dish is Babette's specialty, Cailles en Sarcophage (quail). Every dish served at this feast is a masterpiece and leaves the viewer craving food. This film is a classic, the presentation of the food is wonderful and the dishes are mouth-watering. Only a movie like Eat Drink Man Woman can compete with the food moments in this film.

The Banquet in Babette's Feast and 'The Dead.'