Babette’s Feast and the Power of Art
When all deadlines are met and time is out in my favor, one can usually find me sitting comfortably on the couch with a bowl of popcorn on one hand and a remote control on the other. Watching movies has always been one of my favorite leisure. Although I try to see films from different parts of the world as much as I can, perhaps like the many others who belong in my generation, Hollywood movies are always top of the list. Seldom do I find fascination with other international productions especially European ones. They are slow-paced, often more serious and “less entertaining” than those produced in Hollywood. However, watching the Danish film “Babette’s Feast” made me reconsider and view European films with a different lens – one with a little more appreciation and interest. While the slow pacing is inherent to this kind of cinema, they also present a different style and meat altogether, leaving more room for its audience to think rather than just instant gratification offered by most American movies. This is very evident in Babette’s Feast. In its subtlety and simplicity, together with the use of brilliant metaphors and symbolisms, it was able to uncover the transforming power of art with beauty and sophistication.
Babette’s Feast tells the story of two pious sisters whose lives were changed by their French servant, who was apparently an unspoken artist, Babette. One of the images that constantly reappear all throughout the movie, especially in the beginning, is the image of the dried fish. This symbolizes the life of Martina and Philippa and perhaps even those in the community who was devoted to the preaching of their father that to attain salvation, one must deprive himself all physical or worldly pleasures including food. They lived a life of unhealthy simplicity and unreasonable meagerness. Their simple and puritan way of living is so extreme that it has become dreary and ironically “lifeless”, like a dried fish in...
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