Monday, January 5, 2009

Babette's Feast

So, the Barkeep would want me to mention that Babette's Gaestebud was directed by Gabriel Axel, and won the 1987 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The original short story was written by Karen Blixen (Wikipedia also notes Isak Dinesen, with Blixen in parentheses - I'm going with the name in the credits), who also wrote the (oddly) familiar Out of Africa. I don't think I've seen it, but I've sure heard of it.
It occurs to me as I begin this post that I don't know exactly what I'm reviewing for. I'm tempted to just start with numbers, because they're much easier to spout, but that's not real criticism, so in spite of my temptation to award the thing "Four and a Half Jesuses," I'm going to try to confine the discussion to each film's theological message for me personally.
So the big word of the day is "balance." There's a temptation in Christianity towards "antinomianism," that is, a complete reliance on spirit in the body/spirit divide. We've been having trouble with various sects of this persuasion since slightly after the death of Christ, while at the same time we try to react against the materialist obsessions of the (insert decadent civilization here). Body matters, we want to say, but body is not all. Christ had a body - he also had a meaningful divine spirit.
From my end, Babette's Feast is a classic walking of the line. There is no condemnation of the piety of the community (while at the same time not quite endorsing it), and there's no overt endorsement of the delightful banquet - just a view of the pleasant results. The film seems to imply that there's room for both perspectives in a truly balanced view of the world.
I realize that's pretty surface, but I'm running on empty - I'll see if I have more for you tomorrow.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

This one is rated K. I have seen it. The contrast of the ladies teaching Babette to make the mush stuff, with the ending feast. Perhaps we are all like that. Eating the mush when Matthew omelettes are available!