Babette’s Feast won the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 1986. I never heard of it until a few years later a friend told me about this interesting movie of some isolated people who were given a fancy meal. On the basis of his recommendation I taped the film when it was broadcast on PBS.
This is one of those films you can’t appreciate unless you see it through clear to the end. I had taped it off the air and watched the first half of it one evening. That initial viewing seemed sluggish and almost aimless. I wondered what my friend had seen in this movie. The next evening I watched the second half and was electrified. Very few films have made such an immediate and complete invasion of my consciousness. This was more than the story of a remote group of people who were introduced to a little international culinary culture.
The story involves a small home church in an isolated region of Denmark. It was founded by a man long gone by the time of the “Feast” mentioned in the title. His two daughters had become the caretakers for the congregation that had descended to backbiting and spiritual apathy. From out of their past had come Babette, a refugee from war in France. For room and board she because the two ladies’ housekeeper and also the chef behind all the cooking which was given to the indigent in the community. When the 100th birthday of their preacher father came around she volunteered to cook and pay for the meal for the church.
It is in the meal itself that a change takes place, a matter which in a way is analogous to what happens to us when we get into true fellowship with the Lord and His people as we partake of communion. The people relate to one another in a way they have not related for years. Old animosities are given over as they enter into a true fellowship with one another around the table, not one of organizational membership, but of organic unity. It takes an outsider to recognize the true greatness of what they are experiencing, but in the end the spiritual life of this community is re-ignited. The church is seen as a living being, not a museum of past, never to be repeated glories. It is as we confess our wrongs and forgive one another that we come the closest to the grace and mercy of God.
Being a foreign film, there is not only the language to be contended with, but also the body language and customs which almost need to be worked at in order to understand, but once you enter into the world of this feast you will be overwhelmed by what it means to be a part of Jesus’ church and also what it means to rise to the capability of the artist which God has created within you. You will want to amaze and delight the angels yourself.
3 years ago