Notes: AøS Panorama Film International. 102 minutes.
Narrator: Ghita Nørby
Babette: Stephane Audran
Filippa: Bodil Kjer
Martine: Birgitte Federspiel
General Lowenhielm: Jarl Kulle
Achille Papin: Jean Philippa Lafont
Director: Gabriel Axel.
Producers: Just Betzer and Bo Christensen
Screenplay: Gabriel Axel
Cinematography: Henning Kristiansen
Music: Per Nøgaard
Language: Danish and French with English subtitles
Summary: On the Danish coast during the nineteenth century two pious sisters, Filippa and Martine, are kind-hearted and devoted to their late father's ministries. Long ago, they both turned down the loves of their lives so that they could serve their father's austere vision. Years after their father has passed away they receive a visitor with a letter from Achille Papin, a French opera singer who fell in love with Filippa. The letter explains how he has sent Babette, the visitor, to them because her life was in jeopardy in France: both her husband and son had been killed. The two sisters agree to take Babette in and Babette promises to help them as a loyal servant. After fourteen years Babette wins 10,000 francs in a lottery. The sisters assume she'll be leaving them now, but her only request is that she be allowed to cook the dinner that will celebrate the 100th birthday of the two sisters' deceased father. The sisters, accustomed to grim meals of boiled fish and ale-bread, tentatively agree to let her cook the meal and this is when the food takes over this film. After some of the supplies are delivered the two sisters are shocked to see that live animals are included and that Babette intends to serve wine. After one sister has dreams of hellfire, the two sisters round up the diners and have them swear that no matter what the food tastes like they will not say a word. But ultimately Babette's feast restored camaraderie among the typically bickering congregation, and the other sister's old beau, now a general, is also in attendance. We finally learn that Babette has spent all her money, that she used to be a professional cook in France, and that her satisfaction in this event was being able to indulge her artistic talents. The sisters actually thank her and acknowledge that there must be food in heaven.
Commentary: The preparation of the meal is magnificent, the photography is wonderful, all the shots of the live quails and sea turtle show just what a feast the two elderly sisters will be treated to. The shots of the dough being cut and shaped and the quail being plucked are wonderful. The real visual feast is at the table as the guests start their meal. The soup is real turtle and the finest wines and champagnes are served. The dinner scene is hilarious as the people begin to enjoy the meal despite their solemn vow not to. The next course includes Blinis Demidoff and lasts only a short time as the guests devour it. One particularly funny scene involves a pious elderly woman; she takes a sip of palate-cleansing water and grimaces with disappointment when she realizes it is just water and proceeds to rapidly drink some more wine instead. In between courses their glasses are filled with fine wines. The next dish is Babette's specialty, Calilles en Sarcophage (quail). Every dish served at this feast is a masterpiece and leaves the viewer craving food. This film is a classic, the presentation of the food is wonderful and the dishes are mouthwatering. Only a movie like Eat Drink Man Woman can compete with the food moments in this film.