Beauty in ‘Babette’s Feast’

Stéphane Audran in Babette’s Feast (MGM)
All is not vanity, but gift.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE G abriel Axel’s superbly crafted 1987 film adaptation of “Babette’s Feast” won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Food is one its central themes, but, like the short story it’s based on — credited to Isak Dinesen, the pen name of the Danish writer Karen Blixen — it’s about so much more than that.

Set in Berlevaag, Norway, in the 1870s, the story is about the dean of a small Lutheran sect and his two beautiful daughters, Martine (after Martin Luther) and Phillipa. Though they are not without warmth, theirs is a puritanical existence in which “members [renounce] the pleasures of

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