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Babette's Feast Case

Essay by   •  December 6, 2012  •  Essay  •  1,389 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,676 Views

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One of our favorite pastime is going to the movies with family and friends. Most of us enjoy watching Hollywood films more than local ones, and so all year long, a lot of American films are being shown in the theater. We enjoy these films mostly because we get entertainment from all the action scenes, love scenes, or even the drama scenes. I personally am a movie buff, and I admit that I often get mesmerized by the hype and glamour that comes with these Hollywood films. However, upon watching Babette's Feast, even without the glamour, it was a very good film that really makes you think and reflect. I have seen a couple of European films and they have actually been good, but sadly, I have never come across one being shown in the cinemas. Seeing this film and comparing it to some of the more recent American films that I've seen like Skyfall, Breaking Dawn, etc., I came to realize that when stripped of all the glitter and hype, the storyline isn't actually that good. Babette's Feast, on the other hand, was a film set in a very simple village, with very simple costumes and actors, but it still manages to engage the viewers even after the end. To some, trying to analyze a movie is not an important aspect of the experience, so long as the effects and soundtrack are good, and the actors and actresses look good, it's an instant hit. Yes, trying to understand a movie long after watching it can sometimes be very frustrating, but it is also a great learning experience, and that, I think, is what's most important. European cinema gives just that: a learning, yet entertaining experience. As I have said, I have seen some European Films, but none as compelling and insightful as Babette's Feast. It doesn't show you transforming werewolves or handsome federal agents, but it gets the message through. European directors pay more attention to words and emotions rather than special effects and six-pack abs.

Babette's Feast is about two sisters, Martine and Philippa, who had a minister for a father. When they were younger, they both had a chance at love and fame. Martine was admired by the vacationing cavalry officer, Lorens Lowenhielm, but he soon realized that he can never have her. Philippa also had a suitor, a famous opera singer, Achille Papin. Mister Papin immediately fell in love with Philippa's voice the first time he heard her sing, after asking permission from her father, he started giving her singing lessons. As Mister Papin's passion for Philippa and the music they do together grew stronger, Philippa became uncomfortable so she stopped having the lessons. Upon learning Philippa's decision, Achille Papin left the village and went back to Paris. The sisters chose to stay with their father and take over his ministry after he died. As they grew older, they have continuously done almost everything in the same way, until Babette, a French refugee, showed up at their doorstep with a letter from Achille Papin, recommending her as a housekeeper. Babette had to flee France after her family was killed. Hesitant at first, the sisters took her in with only food and shelter as payment and she stayed their housekeeper for 14 years.

A lot of symbolisms were used in order to seamlessly put across the message that the filmmakers wanted to convey. In the beginning of the Film, they showed the food of the village people being prepared. The dried fish may symbolize their very simple living situation. Even in the first scene, they have already succeeded in establishing the modesty and frugality of the village and its members, specially the two sisters. Babette was taught how to make the fish and soup and she may have secretly improved the taste as it became something that the old people in the village look forward to. As Babette does her daily chores, one can't help but notice the significance of her wiping of the windows of the two sisters' house. This sets a precedent on how she will be a key in helping them see the world clearer. Because Martine and Philippa have been isolated from the outside world, this washing of windows looks like Babette trying to show them the things that they have not yet seen or are hiding from. It is admirable how these symbolisms seem to appear out of nowhere and may very well be literal and not symbols at all. Interpretations may differ from person to person, and that is what's good about it - that it is open for debate and dialogue. One day, Babette received a letter from France informing her that she had won ten thousand francs from the lottery that her friend had been renewing yearly. Upon getting her money, Babette persuaded Martine and Philippa to let her prepare a feast in honor of their father and asked for a few days off and they could not refuse her. On the night of the feast, the General, who was



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