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Babette's Feast

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1. My view of European cinema changed into appreciation once I partook of Babette's feast. It reminded me of when I took my literature classes in my first year in college. By watching Babette's Feast, it showed me how similar European cinema and literature is. In fact, European cinema is in its own way literature. The presence and absence of symbols, meanings and dialogue are the ones that blurred the lines between real literature and European cinema, and these distinguished them from American movies. The symbols in the film carried out the meanings and messages of the film. Usually, they are hidden in ordinary acts and objects in the film. It is important to note that these symbolisms point to one main theme of the dreariness of life when one denies art and other worldly sensibilities. For example, one of the most recurrent images in the film is the dried fish. (This will be explained below in question item number 2).

The subtle underlying of content the film was conveyed through communication, not through jam-packed action like Hollywood films, but communication through facial and other body expressions, and verbal communication. Even without the action and visual effects seen in commercial blockbuster movies, there is so much meaning in the film, even in the silence.

The simplicity of the film is merely a façade, it concealed the depth of meaning the film to inattentive viewers. I also appreciated the way the film built its story up until the end put the meaning across effectively to keen viewers. The color scheme in the film's cinematography also is noteworthy. Before Babette's feast, the color schemes of the scenes were dull. But at the eve of the feasting, the scenes were more colorful and had warmth. This change of colors showed the transformation of the people from dullness to liveliness.

I believe in the in transforming power of art because of my experiences and because the film was able to show it. When I perform my own songs and cover or listen songs of known artists, there are things that change within me. I get a sense of peace, sometimes solidarity, and euphoria. Without music, my life would have been less meaningful and I would have not transformed this much. In the film, it was evident that at the end of the film, the people who devoured Babette's meal transformed. The people who were tired, and easily irritated with each other to the point that they bicker and turned into warmer people than before who accepted each other. The people were kissing and talking playfully of their past's faults. They were like in a trance holding hands forming a circle, while dancing. Babette, who was adrift and crying when she had first stepped on the two sisters' household, was now filled with peace and satisfaction after preparing a real French meal to the villagers.

2. At face value, the dried fish is the daily food of the sisters and their community. This could have signified the traditions and routine of the sisters. This could represent of the two sisters as living their life in simplicity. It also is a symbol on how they denied themselves from enjoying sensual pleasure like eating sumptuous and tasty food to the point that there lives are even "dry" as the dried fish. They lived rigidly and strictly by the code of their father: deny worldly pleasures, because they are evil and sinful. They even avoided the excitement and passion of their courters. These men could have added "flavor" in to their tasteless lives. And because of their denial and repression, they became old spinsters who never truly experienced and enjoyed living. They just lived an uneventful routine. Their lives were transformed when Babette prepared a lavish feast that contrasts the dried fish at the end of the film.

The window washing of Babette outside serve as a representation of bathing, refreshing the lives' of the two sisters. Cleaning the windows made it easier to let the "outdoors"(which is the other side of life) clearer, and the light and beauty outdoor shine through their dreary house. In this effect, Babette seemed like a messenger of the artsy and romantic France tasked to enlighten the two sisters and the village of art in its aesthetically finest form and a different side of life outside their village. And ultimately, the feast she gave them was her "cavalry", the moment by which she "saved" the congregation.




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