DIRECTOR: GABRIEL AXEL
COUNTRY: SWEDEN 1987
CINEMATOGRAPHY: ROGER BOLM
CAST: Stephane Audran(Babette), Bodyl Kuer(Filippa), Brigitte Federspiel(Martine), Jarle Kuille (Lorens), Bibi Anderson
SUPER FEATURES: Wonderful film.
Babette has been the wife (or mistress, the film does not clarify it) of a noble in France, whose life is in trouble due to the political situation that ever changed during the 1850's. And a famous musician takes a doctor mandated vacation to Sweden to get away from the pressures of the music scene, or to get away from the new government. In the place where he is, he meets two twin sisters that are the daughters of an old line minister whose work still lives on. One of the sisters has a magnificent voice, and the singer takes her on as a student, to try and develop her talent. But when she denies his request to travel with him, and tour with that wonderful voice, he lives back to France. A few years later, a woman is taken to the doorstep of the two sisters, with a message from the singer to take her own as she is a victim of another revolution. She becomes the maid of the house and does all the cooking.
As is befitting all hopefuls, she buys an occasional lottery ticket, and one day finds out that she has won. And she proceeds to set up a feast for everyone around. Her feast involves some of the delights which are afforded by an upper class, and the resident family and friends are somewhat anguished by what is being served. A special guest, a minister of something or other happens to come by. And he partakes in the meal. He is astounded at the service and the quality, which all the other members of the family are trying so hard to ignore, and avoid, but are eating so not to offend the cook, and the special moment which celebrates the spirit of the father of the twins.
For a simple film, with no great pretensions, to come off so well, and show up many others, is an accomplishment in itself. The film carries some outstanding acting, even if subdued by the sisters and the town residents so firmly entrenched in their religious fervor. And they partake in the meal, probably enjoying it, but not admitting it out in the open, lest they feel that they are offending the humble leader which taught them.
Babette spends all of her earnings to acquire the food, all fresh, and the special wines and desserts that go with it. The special guest, the minister, is astounded that he is eating such incredible food, which he had only tasted once in a particular restaurant in Paris, the suggestion being that Babette was the chef in that place.
An excellent film, with some rather profound moments, and sayings, to keep us entwined in its ideas, it is a bit slow, but it provides an exceptional showcase for all the actors. The film is softly directed, with no sweeping angles, or fast camera movement, in order to display the slow lifestyle which these people enjoy all year round.
This film won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film, and deservedly so. It has some very well done musical moments, showcasing some period music which was played in the french courts for the amusement of the kings, and the upper class, thanks to the lively Mr. Pappon, who is so happy to have found a wonderful voice to duet with, but saddened when he can not partake in the enjoyment of sharing that voice with another audience, other than a living room. In many ways, it is a statement that the best work is done in the privacy of our own spiritual work, rather than in the clubs, saloons, and concert halls. And it takes a special type of people not to share it with anyone else but their own kin. In an industrial society, we might say that this is foolish. But, even in the worst of times, in the wrong place, some wonderful things can happen.....
Check this film out. Very nice.
4 1/2 GIBLOONS
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