When it comes to films on food, some focus on the fattening, sentimental, or even social qualities of cuisine, while others spotlight its comforting capability over the mind, body, and spirit. Babetteâ€™s Feast is one such film that conforms to the latter perception. By depicting love through both sustenance and creed, Babetteâ€™s Feast establishes itself as an elegant and profoundly religious plate-of-art that binds us all together as living, loving, and sentient beings.
Based on the short story by Isak Dinesen, Babetteâ€™s Feast tells the story of twin sisters, Martina (Birgitte Federspiel) and Philippa (Bodil Kjer,), who live on Denmarkâ€™s Jutland peninsula, during the late nineteenth century.
In their younger years, Martina (Vibeke Hastrup) easily attracted the likes of Lieutenant Lorens Lowenhielm (Gudmar Wivesson), while Philippa (Hanne Stensgaard) effortlessly enticed Achille Papin (Jean-Phillipe Lafont)â€”a famous opera singer. Nevertheless, the sisters declined their respective suitors in order to remain dedicated to their fatherâ€™s (Pouel Kern) ministry of helping others.
Thirty five years later, now that their father has been long deceased, the two saintly siblings continue to carry on their fatherâ€™s preaching of responsibility and charity and serve as the heads of the small Danish villageâ€™s religious sect. Practicing what they preach, the sisters graciously welcome a stricken French woman, named Babette (StĂ©phane Audran), into their home. After realizing that Babette was sent in the name of Achille Papin and that her entire family had been killed in Paris, Martina and Philippa embrace their guest and begin to teach her how to boil cod and make ale-bread soupâ€”the mainstay diet within the poverty-stricken sect.
It isnâ€™t until after 14 years of service, that Babette feels as though she is truly able to repay the sisters with a splendid French feast. The sisters allow Babette to cook the extensive meal for the 100th anniversary of their departed fatherâ€™s birth, and it just so happens that the now decorated General Lowenhielm (Jarl Kulle) is invited.