We started watching Babette’s Feast this afternoon. Danish film. Won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1987.
We gave it twenty-five minutes. Couldn’t stick it. It’s adapted from an Isak Dinesen story – transposed might be a better word. A lot of telling, not a lot of showing. That was annoying, but worse was the look of it. I’d love to see if you could stick it for half an hour. It’s a period piece made in the late Eighties and it looks it from head to toe.
[I think John Huston was well aware of this problem and that’s why he shot most of The Dead indoors; it’s more forgiving that way]
So we stopped it before we found out anything about Babette and why she was throwing a feast.
And then I looked at the back of the DVD case – and this is what I wanted to ask you about. Does this ring a bell?
A woman comes into a small, conservative rural community. She’s “mysterious”. Soon she convinces some locals to try something “truly outrageous – a gourmet French meal!”…Her feast “scandalizes the local elders…Just who is this strangely talented Babette, who has terrified this pious town with the prospect of losing their souls for enjoying too much earthly pleasure.”
Is this not the plot of Chocolat (the book was published in 1999, film released in 2000)?
Mysterious French woman – local elders (replace Lutherans with Catholics) – small, conservative rural community (replace Jutland with Gers, France) – reduce the gourmet meal to chocolate…