11 June 2020, The Tablet

Babette’s Feast is one of the finest contemporary parables about the Eucharist I know


Babette’s Feast is one of the finest contemporary parables about the Eucharist I know
 

A creative way of celebrating the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, especially during lockdown, might be to re-watch Babette’s Feast. This 1986 film is one of the finest contemporary parables about the Eucharist I know. While it can be equally read as a homage to an artist, the sacramental reading is a fascinating one.

Based on Karen Blixen’s (writing as Isak Dinesen) novel of the same name, Babette, a French Catholic, is a Parisian chef who gets caught up in the riots in the French capital in 1871. Her husband and son are killed in the fighting. Babette is assisted to escape to Norway (Denmark in the film), where members of a strict Protestant sect take her into their remote village. The founder of the community has died, but his two daughters engage Babette as their cook. The mysterious woman assumes the nature of a servant. They have no idea who she is, or what has bought her to their home. Having been in the village for 14 years, Babette wins 10,000 francs in the Lottery, and asks the sisters to let her provide a feast in honour of what would have been their father and the Pastor’s 100th birthday. She spends all her winnings on buying food and wine so that she can provide a banquet for the community who saved her life.

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