Director – Billie August – 1987 – Denmark – Cert. 15 – 157m
Best Foreign Language Oscar 1989
Babette’s Feast (Babettes gæstebud)
Director – Gabriel Axel – 1987 – Denmark – Cert. U – 103m
Best Foreign Language Oscar 1988
This double review originally appeared in the Church Times.
JEREMY CLARKE ON VIDEO
Comments on Social and Religious Austerity.
Social hardship and religious severity have long been an artistic staple in Scandinavian films; two current video releases illustrate the point admirably. Pelle, the young lad of Pelle The Conqueror, is told he can conquer the whole world by his father (Max Von Sydow).
The turn of the century reality is less attractive, since the Swedish father and son are forced by economic necessity to migrate to neighbouring Denmark in search of farm labouring work. In Denmark, the boy boy struggles to keep his dreams alive despite local anti-Swede prejudice.
The tale and its setting strike a curious parallel with Babette’s Feast, in which Parisian refugee of the 1871 Communard uprising Babette (Stephan Audran) arrives in the Jutland Danish coastal region to seek refuge. Taken into the home of the daughters of a late Lutheran clergyman, she works in exchange for bed and board and observes the specifically Christian legalism underpinning the local, village community.… Read the rest