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Babette's Feast (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)

Stéphane Audran , Bodil Kjer , Gabriel Axel    G (General Audience)   Blu-ray
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Babette's Feast (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Bilingual) + Au Revoir les Enfants (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Version française)
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Product Description

At once a rousing paean to artistic creation, a delicate evocation of divine grace, and the ultimate film about food, the Oscar-winning Babette�s Feast is a deeply beloved cinematic treasure. Directed by Gabriel Axel and adapted from a story by Isak Dinesen, this is the layered tale of a French housekeeper with a mysterious past who brings quiet revolution in the form of one exquisite meal to a circle of starkly pious villagers in late nineteenth-century Denmark. Babette�s Feast combines earthiness and reverence in an indescribably moving depiction of pleasure that goes to your head like fine champagne. SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES � New 2K digital film restoration, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition � New interview with actor St�phane Audran � Karen Blixen: Storyteller, a 1995 documentary about the author of the film�s source story, who wrote under the pen name Isak Dinesen � New visual essay by filmmaker Michael Almereyda � New interview with sociologist Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson about the significance of cuisine in French culture � Trailer � PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Mark Le Fanu and Dinesen�s 1950 story

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING MOVIE May 23 2013
Think i've seen this 10 or 20 times over the years. One of my "go to" feel good films (like Enchanted April). Beautifully filmed.
Love the portrayal of such "stark" lives -- the setting is stark -- and seeming to give up opportunities for earthly joy and love -- for the love of God (and how people seem to feel they "should" live to show their love of God). And then comes of feast ... which seems to show that participating in earthly joy CAN be akin to spiritual joy!!

Just LOVE this movie! (not going to say "cinema" or "film" -- i don't consider this for "highbrows"!) :) :) :)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously delightful Jan. 9 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A more unlikely dinner party is impossible to imagine. Babette's Feast touches the heart at every turn and and the main character's extraordinary generosity inspires viewers to consider the role that food and love and other pleasures can play in our lives. Arriving out of nowhere at a small village on the coast of Denmark, Babette is taken in and provided a place to stay and a way to connect and serve the community, which adheres to very strict and severe religious precepts. She humbly accepts lessons in how to prepare plain and frankly disgusting looking dish made of beer and bread and deliver it to the village's poor and sick. The extreme austerity of those living around her and their determination to avoid sensual enjoyments presents a serious challenge to the newcomer whose genuine skill as a top chef becomes clear to us as the film progresses. The performances are strong, the setting is compelling, and the meal -- when it finally comes to the table, will have your mouth watering for the delectable treats set out.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Babette's Feast Nov. 3 2013
By dsh
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The explanation of the plot was insightful and illuminated the story in a very meaningful manner. The actual story was superbly and simply told and the acting was superlative. This is a low key drama which holds one's attention with its attention to detail. The whole story was believable and one felt a connection with the players.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guess whose favorite this is? June 30 2013
This has been a favorite of mine for years. Always use it in classes with adults. Great food film, like Big Night! Oh, this happens to be the favorite movie of all time...of Pope Francis!
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  58 reviews
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Feast for Movie Lovers! April 18 2013
By Douglas Coleman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
I have been waiting for a quality release of Babette's Feast for several years, and now my wish has been wonderfully granted! With newly restored video and audio, along with a new English subtitle translation, Babette's Feast has finally gotten the attention this wonderful film deserves!

For those who do not know, this is the story of a French housekeeper in a remote Danish village. She works for two sisters who live together, the daughters of the founder of a fundamentalist religious sect. When Babette learns she has won a great deal of money she decides to celebrate with a feast for the members of the sect. This feast provides the setting for the great contrasts the movie explores: asceticism versus indulgence, grace versus law, friendship versus suspicion, mercy versus righteousness. At the wonderful hospitality of Babette's table we experience not only great food but also the way that these contrasts might live in harmony. We experience, in other words, the miracle that men and women might learn to dwell together in peace and love through the simple acts of giving, sacrifice, and the choice to enjoy life.

This is a feast for the eyes as well as the heart. Enjoy the meal!

This Blu-Ray release includes the following features (taken from the Criterion Collection webpage):
-New 2K digital film restoration, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
-New interview with actor Stéphane Audran
-Karen Blixen: Storyteller, a 1995 documentary about the author of the film's source story, who wrote under the pen name Isak Dinesen
-New visual essay by filmmaker Michael Almereyda
-New interview with sociologist Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson about the significance of cuisine in French culture
-New and improved English subtitle translation
-PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Mark Le Fanu and Dinesen's 1950 story

(Edit and Update)
Having now received and seen the Criterion Bluray, I can say with all excitement that this is exactly what I'd hoped it would be! Babette's Feast shines with the Criterion treatment, with the picture, sound, and extras (including the packaging) everything you might expect from them. This is a quality release of a movie that continues to charm me.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The international favorite is in good hands! Aug. 8 2013
By K. Reynolds - Published on Amazon.com
THIS IS NOT a movie about food. It is not a movie about religion either, although the story revolves around a pair of sisters who belong to a strict, Puritanical sect.

"It's true that food is important, but there's a nourishment in a spiritual sense," actress Stéphane Audran, who plays Babette, says in the 2012 interview on this new Criterion edition.

It is "a film that advocates love from start to finish," director/scriptwriter Gabriel Axel agrees in his 2013 interview. For him, the most important thing was to capture Karen Blixen's voice.

Who is Karen Blixen? She is the woman who wrote the story published in 1950 under the pen name Isak Dinesen. Axel says the charming fable was recommended by his wife. But, when he tried to get financing for making it, he was roundly turned down.

It took over 15 years - and seven Oscar wins for a movie about Dinesen, "Out of Africa," (1985) - before producers agreed to finance "Babette's Feast." Shot in Jutland in Denmark, it became an Oscar winner for 1988 Best Foreign Film and just about every other classy international award that year.

The story takes place in a bleak coastal village, where two aging sisters, Martine (Birgitte Federspiel) and Fillipa (Bodil Kjer), care for the remainder of their minister father's elderly and quarrelsome followers. Both were beauties in their younger years, and, through flashbacks, we see how both gave up marriage opportunities to stay with their father.

Skip ahead 35 years and we find the minister has passed on. One evening, a woman appears at the door with a letter from one of the former suitors. Babette is a refugee from the French civil war (Hello, fans of "Les Misérables," 2012); she needs a home. Would the ladies consider taking her on as a maid?

They do and, soon, Babette is cleaning and cooking. This goes on for more than 10 years until the day comes when the sisters plan to celebrate what would have been their father's 100th birthday - and Babette wins the French lottery, 10,000 francs. Certain the woman who has grown to be an irreplaceable friend will now leave, they agree to let Babette use her winnings to put on the birthday feast as a thank you for their kindness.

Still, Martine, Fillipa, and the disciples fear they may be heading into a witch's Sabbath as Babette's exotic supplies arrive. But a promise is a promise, and to this symbolic Last Supper, they must go. That's where the not-to-be-missed culmination of the tale takes place.

Criterion presents "Babette's Feast" on Blu-ray using a new 2K digital transfer and it looks sublime. Axel tells us he was, "inspired by Vermeer's palette ... all the colors of the earth ... with nothing to distract from what was essential." Color is rich and varied, gradually shifting from a soft gray and blue palette to rich jewel colors as the feast takes place. Detail and film grain are perfect for this production.

The multilingual soundtrack - Danish and French with English subtitles - has been upgraded to a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track. Dialogue, music and score come through cleanly with a reasonable amount of range.

In addition to the interviews, the disc provides a 90-minute, 1995 documentary, "Karen Blixen - Story Teller." "Table Scraps" tell us about making and filming the feast. In her interview, Audran describes how it was also prepared and served during the film's promotional tour and Oscar campaign. Meals in New York and Los Angeles were sublime. "Americans like to get it right," she says.

"An Artist of the Everyday" presents a 2013 interview with sociology professor Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, about the importance of "cuisine" to the French identity and to "Babette's Feast." Criterion has also packed in a 64 page booklet with an essay by Mark Le Fanu and Blixen's original story.

No matter the nationality, from America to Denmark, viewers share a profound reaction to "Babette's Feast," Axel tells us.

He is right. This is a loving tribute to anyone who has experienced some ups and downs in their life, and brings something new with each viewing. Don't miss it.

-- Kay Reynolds
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Tortoise Wins The Race / But Also Gets Eaten July 23 2013
By Gregg T. Lamm - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
In the old story "The Tortoise And The Hare" you probably remember that the tortoise, despite all odds and all expectations, wins the race. "Babette's Feast" is like that story. It's slow (but never boring), it's plodding (but never tedious), it's intentional (but never obvious). Filming a classic Danish short-story about a religious order whose piety stops just short of becoming a cult, centering on the two unmarried daughters of the group's long-deceased founder, whose decades-long compassion is only outdone by their ability to turn bread and fish into an edible stew, and including a mysterious houseguest and then friend, whose secret when revealed will not only stun, but bless, is no doubt easier said than done. But it's all magically pulled off in this beautiful film.

When I first read this short-story by author Karen Blixen-Isak Dinesen in the 1970s I loved it. When I first heard the short-story read aloud on cassette tape by Colleen Dewhurst in the 1980s I loved it. When I first saw the short-story on film in 1987 by director Gabriel Alex I loved it. And now, what a joy it is to see this Academy Award winning film on BluRay Disc, in glorious high definition, and with new and improved subtitles. My VHS tape copy of this film is the only one I couldn't bring myself to pass onto Goodwill through the years -- even though it's been years since I've owned a VCR. But now it can go.

The story begins long ago when the two daughters of the man who founded this religious order (no sign of their mother) were young women -- and then it picks up much later, when the interwoven stories of their faith, their daily lives, and their loves come back full-circle in ways that lead more to gratitude than to regret. Yes it's slow, but to tell this story any other way would be like trying to make a souffle in a Suzy Homemaker Easy Bake Oven. And even though in the old story, the tortoise won the race, in this short-story and film, the tortoise also gets turned into a delicious soup! I guess you can't win them all. Eat some Danish crepes, pour yourself some good, strong, black Danish coffee, and then watch this film! You will be glad you did.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Return of Babette Sept. 20 2013
By Nancy Talbot Doty - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I saw "Babette's Feast" many years ago and loved it. To be honest, I have not seen this particular DVD. (A friend was so eager to see it that it's been out on loan to her for several weeks.) Fortunately, it arrived encased with a pair of booklets, one of which is the text of the original novella. So I did read it, for the first time. The film, as I remember it, is extremely faithful to the story. But for once, I liked the film even better. It (the DVD) does such a beautiful job of showing the poignancy and the feast's guests emergence form their life-long gloom. Babette's ultimate fate is left somewhat up in the air; but that is not the subject of the story. The ending is appropriate--consistent with the author's intent and not unsatisfying. The second booklet--on "the making of"--explains why the setting was changed from Norway to Denmark. It doesn't seem to make a lot of difference. The scenes are dimly lit in either case. "Babette's Feast" is a story of religious faith and miracles and love. Watch it with a very open mind.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you, Criterion! June 7 2013
By Dennis J. Pauly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
. What a great movie! Actually nothing happens but much happens. If you describe it you would say a maid cooks a great meal for
two women who were good to her. But it is so much more as we delve into the back stories of the two sisters and some of the dinner guests.

The blu ray edition is beautifully done and there are fine bonus features including a new interview with Stephane Audran. The pieces on Karen Blixen are also worth watching.
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