Author Topic: Movie of the Week: Babette's Feast (1987)  (Read 10466 times)

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Movie of the Week: Babette's Feast (1987)
« Reply #50 on: November 06, 2011, 12:57:22 PM »
I just don't know what more to discuss. People who don't like this film approach the film (and perhaps films in general) much different from me so I'm not sure exactly how to argue or convey my views anymore than I already have.

Sandy

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Re: Movie of the Week: Babette's Feast (1987)
« Reply #51 on: November 06, 2011, 02:44:04 PM »
4/5

I didn't write down my two favorite moments in the film before. The first is when the general addresses his younger self, "I have found everything you dreamed of and satisfied your ambition, but to what purpose?" The other moment is when he says goodbye to Martine. "I have been with you everyday of my life."

Each choice we make negates countless others. To see a man's life reflected upon so completely in so few words is skillful. Also, everyone so far seems to agree that Babette's presence and dinner gave the people what they were missing. What I don't think has been mentioned is that Babette would have never done this had they not given something profound to her first. Even though they were skewed in their beliefs, their devotion and lives were of value and provided Babette a feeling of home. 
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smirnoff

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Re: Movie of the Week: Babette's Feast (1987)
« Reply #52 on: November 06, 2011, 08:51:35 PM »
I think the final conflict and subsequent revelation would have carried more weight if I knew more specifically what morals and principals the sisters felt were being threatened by a good meal, and why they were so important. The movie does a very poor job of convincing me their way of living is of any worth; nobody is happy, the congregation is at each others throats, and in general it just looks to be a very oppressive and dreary way to live. I have to assume the real reward is that they have lived a life that will grant them entry to heaven (that's no small reward!) And yet it's never demostrated by the sisters that this is the reason they live the way they live. It's never stated and it's never seen, just assumed (and so I must assume it is important to them).

When the feast comes where's the intensity of the dilemma? They are giving in to to a lifestyle they have denied themselves for their entire lives... a sacrifice they've made for the ultimate reward. You would think that caving on something like that would cause a little more inner turmoil no? Instead they fuss over it like a couple of ninnies. "oh dear, wine". Isn't it more than just wine? In their heads shouldn't the consequences really be life and death? If not, what was the point of all their devoutness? 60 years of piety but who cares when there's quail!

I don't think there's anything inherently silly about living a simple, devout life. I could have easily have been further convinced that it was a very good option if the film had made the case for it. Instead it does the opposite, it sets it up to fail. It makes it look like a ridicules way to live. And in the end when they cast it aside, what are they giving up? Very little. It's an easy choice really.

What should have been a compelling conflict between orthodoxy and, I don't know, puritanism(?) was really a no contest because they pulled a Tonya Harding.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2011, 08:59:42 PM by smirnoff »

Sandy

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Re: Movie of the Week: Babette's Feast (1987)
« Reply #53 on: November 07, 2011, 02:58:55 AM »
I can't argue with your points, because they're valid and the film is vague (I also didn't understand the difference between the ale and wine). I'm not sure that the sisters knew exactly what they were afraid of--excess, indulgence, the unknown? After they received the gift and saw that their worries were all a tempest in a teapot, they were then able to accept and see it for what it truly was. I don't think they were going to stop living the way they did before, except maybe loosen the reigns a little. Sometimes we hold so tightly to our own beliefs that we don't allow new ones to enter in, even if they will enrich our lives.

The draw for me was the concept of giving and the satisfaction and joy that comes from it. I would have loved to give such a meaningful gift.
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smirnoff

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Re: Movie of the Week: Babette's Feast (1987)
« Reply #54 on: November 07, 2011, 10:50:19 AM »
Well said, Sandy.

It's no mistake the film is the way it is, I'm sure, I shouldn't make out like it is.

Sandy

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Re: Movie of the Week: Babette's Feast (1987)
« Reply #55 on: November 07, 2011, 11:03:24 AM »
 :) Don't get me wrong, I would have loved more. except for the feast, it felt a little skimpy.
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Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Movie of the Week: Babette's Feast (1987)
« Reply #56 on: November 07, 2011, 11:04:26 AM »
I imagine the ale was rather weak, especially if they are mixing it with bread. With wine, they were probably worried about getting drunk.

oldkid

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Re: Movie of the Week: Babette's Feast (1987)
« Reply #57 on: November 07, 2011, 11:12:04 AM »
Perhaps that's why I enjoyed it as well as I did-- I knew why they were acting this way.

It is a tendency of some Christian groups to focus on "the flesh" as everything that is evil about the world.  And the answer to this is self-denial and sacrifice.  Certainly "heaven" is a reward, but they also believe that their life on earth is better due to the self-denial and sacrifice.  It is a military attitude, a form of strict Stoicism, with perhaps a bit of the Gnostic denial of all things physical.  From the outside, it self-denial looks like a denial of pleasure, but it actually brings about a deeper satisfaction in one's life without the ups and downs of everyday pleasures and depressions.
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Bondo

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Re: Movie of the Week: Babette's Feast (1987)
« Reply #58 on: November 07, 2011, 11:27:21 AM »
That is of course the core of Buddhism as well. Desire is the source of suffering so one strives to not want in order to not suffer. I find the view a lot more tolerable when it is framed as denial for one's own sake rather than because not doing so would be sinful or offend God. And there is a certain truth about the Buddhist view; look no further than all the wealthy people and their conspicuous consumption and constant focus on relative positioning. On the other hand, if it goes from promoting peace of mind to promoting misery, it seems to be failing.

In fact, I think I have the topic for my next blog post.

Junior

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Re: Movie of the Week: Babette's Feast (1987)
« Reply #59 on: November 08, 2011, 12:03:44 PM »
I'm a week late here so I'll keep it mostly to the things that got little relative attention. For me, the best part of the film, the thing that spoke most to me, was the last scene and Babette explaining why she did what she did. It's about the need of an artist to create and to have others understand what she's doing. She's a master chef and for 12 years or so she's been doing a very limited version of her art and when she gets the means she goes all out. While that early part of the feast scene was funny, watching the members of the group denying what they were eating, it was also kind of sad. Their dedication to their religion makes them blind to what's happening for them. But the best part of this film might be the shot of the woman who goes to drink some water and then switches it out for the wine. It's a funny little shot and it also gets to the power of art. It's totally against her nature to drink wine, but the feast has gotten to her and allowed her to feel something different. That's great stuff right there.
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