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Babette’s feast

The 1989 Danish movie, Babette’s Feast, is full of deep theology. The story is set in an austere Christian sect in 19th century Jutland. There is much in the movie, even evident in the above clip, about meals and hospitality, Eucharist and community, reconciliation and joy, the generosity of God and the great banquets of which Jesus speaks…

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6 thoughts on “Babette’s feast”

  1. This film has so much in it that it’s hard for me to dwell on just one aspect. One thing that strikes me in particular is the contrast between the sort of grudging or austere hospitality that the town and the two sisters extend to Babette and then the extravagant hospitality she returns to them. I mean, the sisters don’t turn away this vagabond — they do take her in — but their acceptance is clearly conditional and stingy. And then, in contrast to this grudging acceptance, we begin to realize the scope of Babbette’s utterly extravagant and sacrificial gift back to them and their village. Set against the austerity of the village, Babette’s gift seems as overflowingly generous (and as perhaps equally wasted?) as pouring perfume over the feet of Jesus. But then, the viewer realizes, that Babette’s gift does change things, even if it’s small changes, like a small rudder changing the course of a big ship. And this, in the end, left me in wonderment at Babette’s decision — she gave up a life of comfort in which she could have been secure, and traded it all for that one extravagant act of generosity which she wasn’t even sure would be returned to her by way of consideration or reciprocity. Did she, or did she not, cast pearls before swine? Would we make the same decision?

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