BABETTE’S FEAST (according to the movie)
On the Jutland coast of Denmark, there was a little village which was founded by a pastor, who preached strict Puritan Christianity and gathered a lot of faithful followers in the village.He had two beautiful daughters, Martine and Fillipa. Many young men attended the services, hoping to get a glimpse of these young women. Some even asked for their hand in marriage. Amongst these was Captain Lorens Lowenheim who fell in love with Fillipa, but he was rejected and sadly left and married a maid in waiting.
One day a gentleman arrived from Paris called Achille Papin. He was amazed by Martine’s voice and had ambitions for her to be trained as an operatic singer. However, she turned him down and he went away a sad man.
Many years later, the pastor passed away and his daughters continued with his little church. The faithful started to dwindle and get old.
One stormy evening Babette appeared on the doorstep of the sisters. She gave them a letter from Monsieur Papin who begged them to take Babette in and give her work and shelter. He said that she had lost all her family and possessions during the French Revolution and that she was not safe in Paris. He also said that Babette could cook.
Babette made a huge difference to their lives and helped them to get a steady income.
The faithful continued to get older and grumpy and they bickered with one another. Martine and Fillipa were at their wits end as to what to do with them.
One day Babette won a lottery ticket from Paris worth 10,000 francs. Every year Monsieur Papine had bought a ticket for her. Babette requested from the sisters if she may cook a real Parisian dinner in honour of their father, the deceased pastor, whose anniversary it was.
The sisters agreed, but became very disturbed when the ingredients for the dinner arrived from Paris. The saw a turtle, head of oxen, quails in a cage and other disturbing ingredients. They called a council of the faithful and it was decided that no one would enjoy or comment on the food.
Amongst the guests to attend the feast was Nora Vossborg, who was the aunt of Loren Lowenhielm, who was now a General and he was invited to Babette’s dinner as well.
To the simple Puritan faithful, the table which Babette had set was resplendent with flowers, candles, shiny cutlery, plates and glasses. The feast was splendid with course after course. Each dish was unique and accompanied by the best wine. Those who had promised themselves to endure the meal found themselves following General Lowenhielm’s example and etiquette. He praised and appreciated every course and everything that he drank. He knew what it was worth and was astonished with what Babette was producing – “Real turtle soup, quail in baskets, the best caviar and cream cheese on freshly baked biscuits”.
Then the General told the story of a famous cafe in Paris, called , “The Cafe Anglais”. He said that the chef was a woman and she was famous, Her dishes were exceptional and well-known throughout Paris.
In the meantime, those who had participated in the meal began to joke with one another and to resolve their differences. They forgave one another and renewed their friendship and love. They went outside in the bitter cold night, which they did not feel and in renewing themselves in their friendship and their faith, they danced around the well holding hands and singing under the light of the stars.
The two sisters went into the kitchen to thank Babette and said how much everyone had enjoyed her special feast. They asked Babette when she intended returning to Paris since she now had the money to do so . She replied that she had spent it all on the meal and that she was the renowned chef at Cafe Anglais and that a meal at the cafe for twelve guests would have cost 10,000 francs.
The two sisters were horrified that Babette was once more poor, but she replied that an artist is never poor! Martine found herself reflecting on Monsieur Papin who had compared her singing to that of the angels. Babette’s meal was a piece of art, one that could be compared to a feast in heaven.