Babette’s Feast Screen 4 articles

Babette’s Feast


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  • It's a model of tact, intelligence, proportion, and scale. But it's still many rungs below Dinesen, despite several claims to the contrary. . . . If we accept the notion that much of Dinesen's power comes from her use of language, then the film, which drastically reduces that language and translates it into Danish, has to be something less.

  • It’s a diamond-bright story, faceted with irony, humour and regret, but one realises, on rereading it, that Axel has managed the impossible and improved on Dinesen. He holds fast to the story’s values, but fills out some wispy outlines of character, elaborates agreeably on the preparation of the dinner (a sigh of purest satisfaction ran through the French audience as Babette slices a truffle), creates a setting around it.

  • Superficially resembling many an awards-bait horse that followed in its wake, Gabriel Axel's Babette's Feast may not be an auteurist classic, but it remains one of the most sublime and transporting of all food-centric movies... The tour-de-force, climactic dinner sequence crucially intercuts the faces of the guests, who uncomprehendingly but helplessly fall under the spell of quail-and-truffle-stuffed pastries and Veuve Clicquot...

  • Its tone, its humor, its kindness, its flashes of sardonic wit, the ease and confidence of its storytelling—all these attributes seem, at times, self-perpetuating, and independent of mere human agency. It is as if the best stories, miraculously, write themselves. Axel’s film manages to capture this anonymous and folklorish quality. Faithful to the story, he has made grace visible, and given us, in addition, a wonderful lesson in courtesy.

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