MIRTH is the operative word here.
Pope Francis continues to surprise and delight me. What a breath of fresh air in the world! His latest comments regarding Donald Trump brought me beyond mirth — they downright filled me with glee. And last year when he was visiting the U.S., I was surprised to find out he’s a film buff; see “Pope Francis’ three favorite movies to be shown at Philadelphia theater.” I had heard of Babette’s Feast some time ago; Fellini’s La Strada was already in my queue, and I’ve now added Rome, Open City.
Babette’s Feast draws multiple parallels to Big Night, and the comparisons bring about even deeper musings about life and our place in the world than either film does by itself. Big Night is unquestionably the better film, but that could be said about most any other movie, as Big Night defines film.
There is one rather serious flaw in Babette’s Feast: people don’t live forever. Time moves aggressively forward in the film, but the characters seem largely age-defying. This flaw is hardly a deal-breaker, though.
This deceptively modest story, with its quiet colors and contemplative characters, actually teems with contrasts and subtle dynamics. The eternal burn of the artist vies with the cold fire of the puritan’s denial. Serious as it all sounds, Axel and his fine cast interpret Dinesen’s ironic original with great charm and gentle comedy.
It is as if the portions of everyday sensuality they have refused all their lives are now to be totalled up and paid to them all at once in this remarkable feast, just when they must bid farewell to the world, with all its pleasures and vanities. Twenty-five years on, the story is still charming and beguiling.
Babette’s Feast — full of mirth and charm — almost defies a numerical rating, but when I have to get down to business I render an 8/10.
Availability: iTunes rental
Comparison Notes (all highly recommended): Local Hero, Breaking the Waves, Big Night