Babette’s Feast (Danish, 1987)

I have to confess, I have only seen this film once, but it was such a pleasure that I will never forget it. This is not just about a feast; this film is a feast. Plotwise, a French woman (Babette) cooks “a real French dinner” for an aging congregation of ascetic Christians. Central to this sect’s theology is the notion that earthly things are of no value. Thus, they turn away from earthly pleasures, such as romance and good food, believing them to be distractions from one’s spiritual life.

The climax of the film is the feast, though this is about a lot more than just food. The nature of sensual pleasure is the primary question. What role does pleasure play in our lives? Is it detrimental to our sanctity because it focuses on earthly delights, rather than our heavenly destination, or can “righteousness and bliss” kiss?

-Ian

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