A mouthwatering Christmas treat, Babette’s Feast is rereleased on 14 December in a beautiful new digital transfer.
Adapted with great sensitivity and invention from Isak Dinesen’s short story (itself inspired by The Tempest), this truly lovely tale of everyday passion, magic and miracles is a delicacy to savour.
Relocating the story from a bourgeois Norwegian port to a remote, windswept Jutland hamlet so steeped in Lutheran spirituality it feels like something out of a Dreyer film, Gabriel Axel traces the strange chain of events that led to the two elderly daughters of a famously pious pastor taking on, as their cook, a Parisienne who was until the advent of the Commune one of the city’s most celebrated chefs.
At once poignant and funny, gently ironic and quietly compassionate, the story – beautifully performed by all concerned, but most especially by Stéphane Audran, clearly relishing her role as a gastronomic wizard – casts its spell carefully yet confidently, culminating in the titular banquet: improbable, mouthwatering, supremely regenerative. A serenely joyous hymn to human creativity, all sorts of love and the small glories of life on earth. (Geoff Andrew)