Babettes gæstebud (1987) - full transcript

In a remote 19th-century Danish village, two sisters lead a rigid life centered around their father, the local minister, and their church. Both had opportunities to leave the village: one could have married a young army officer and the other, a French opera singer. Their father objected in each case, and they spent their lives caring for him. Many years later - their father is now deceased - they take in French refugee, Babette Hersant, who agrees to work as their servant. After winning the lottery, Babette wants to repay the sisters for their kindness and offers to cook a French meal for them and their friends on the 100th anniversary of their father's birth. It proves to be an eye-opening experience for everyone. - stop by if you're interested in the nutritional composition of food

In this remote spot
there once lived two sisters,

who were both past
the first flush of youth.

They had been christened
Martine and Filippa,

after Martin Luther
and his friend Philipp Melanchthon.

They spent all their time

and almost all their small income
on good works.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Their father had been
a pastor and prophet

and the founder
of a religious sect.

He'd been well-respected,
and perhaps also a little feared.

The pastor had married late
and by this time

had long been dead.

His disciples were becoming
fewer in number every year,

but they continued meeting
to read and interpret the Word

and to honour
the spirit of their master,

whose presence they felt
was among them.


My heart's true home

O name forever dear

Take not thought
so anxiously, careful one

For your daily food or raiment

Never would you give
a stone or serpent

To your child
who asks for bread

The two sisters
had a French maid.

Her name was Babette.

This may seem strange
for two Puritan ladies

living in such
a remote and desolate place,

and it calls for an explanation.

The reason for Babette's presence
in the sisters' house

was to be found deep
in the domain of the human heart.

As young girls,
the beauty of Martine and Filippa

had been extraordinary,
like that of flowering fruit trees.

They were never to be seen
at balls or parties,

and the young men
went to church

in hopes of seeing them.

O Lord, allow thy kingdom

To descend upon us here

So that the spirit of mercy

May wipe out all trace of sin

Then we shall know
in our hearts

That God lives here with us

And that thou an dwelling

With those that trust in thee

In the pastor's flock,
earthly love and marriage

were considered of scant worth
and merely empty illusion.

In this calling of mine,
my two daughters

are my right and left hands.

Would you deprive me of them?

these two beauties

had upset the peace of heart
and the destinies

of two young gentlemen
from the great world outside.

One was a young officer
by the name of Lorens Löwenhielm.

He'd led a merry life
in his garrison town

and had fallen into debt.


Captain, sir!
Twenty men accounted for!

Lorens, get a grip on yourself!

You will spend three months
at your aunt's house.

- The old lady?
- Yes.

At Norre Vossborg?

In Jutland?

At Norre Vossborg Manor
you'll have time to think

about your conduct

and to set about improving it.

Welcome to Norre Vossborg.

Come along.
I'll show you to your room.

At that very moment
he had a mighty vision

of a higher and purer life,

one without creditors' letters
or parental lectures,

and with a gentle angel
at his side.

With the help
of his pious aunt,

he gained admission
to the pastors house.

Don't just stand there, Martha!
Get a cloth!

Mercy and truth
have met together,

dear brethren.

Righteousness and bliss
shall kiss one another.

He visited many times,
but it seemed to him

that each time
he grew more insignificant.

Excuse me.

God's paths
run across the sea

and the snowy mountains,

where man's eye
sees no track.


I am going away forever...

and I shall never, never
see you again.

For I have learned here
that life is hard and cruel...

and that in this world
there are things that are...


While the other young officers
spoke of their love affairs,

he was silent about his.

For, reliving it now,
in the officers' mess,

and seeing it
through their eyes,

it appeared to him
a pitiful business.


How can a lieutenant
of the Hussars

let himself be defeated
and disarmed by...

by some long-faced

who can't even afford
salt for their soup?

I can't forget the image
of that lovely maiden.

You're a dreamer, Lorens.

But I'd prefer to be like you.

I will forget all that happened
on the west coast.

From now I shall look forward,
not backward.

I will think of nothing
but my career,

and someday
I will cut a brilliant figure

in a brilliant world.

He married a lady-in-waiting
to Queen Sophia.

At that time, piety was
fashionable at the court,

and he found a use for the phrases
engraved in his memory

from the parsonage.

We implore God's mercy.

We must carry out
the Lord's work with love.

Do you remember that silent young man
who so suddenly appeared

and vanished just as suddenly?


A year later, an even more
distinguished person arrived:

the famous singer from Paris,
Achille Papin,

who'd been performing
at the Royal Opera in Stockholm.

Thank you, dear lady.
You are so kind.

Stockholm is a charming city.

Yes, Scandinavia offers
a wealth of beautiful cities.

I travel a great deal,

but what I yearn for most
is to be alone.

I love silence.

and the sound of waves.

Then you must visit
the coast of Jutland.

It's magnificent

and unspoiled.

There you can have
your fill of fresh air

and rest.

I know a place.

You can stay
with the grocer.

But Achille Papin
fell into a kind of melancholy.

With frightening clarity

he suddenly saw himself
as an old man

at the end of his career.

Lord, our God
thy name and glory

Should be sung
throughout the world

Every soul
every humble subject

And every wayfarer
shall sing aloud

Thy praises

God is God

Though all lands lie desolate

God is God

Though all life be ended

Should mankind perish
yet in highest heaven

Countless multitudes
would sweetly sing

God's praises

Highest mountain
and deepest vale shall vanish

Heaven and earth
as well will perish

Each height and peak
shall be no longer

But the Lord's glory
shall rise again

In a thousand hearts

Almighty God,

thy mercy
ascends to the heavens,

and thy righteousness
reaches to the oceans' depths.

Here is a diva.

She will soon have Paris
at her feet.

Good day, sir.

Good day.

I've come to your beautiful land
for reasons of health.

I'm staying at the grocer's.

I'd be very happy
to give singing lessons

to the young lady
who lives here.

She has a lovely voice,
and with some training,

she will sing like an angel.

That's important
when one sings of God's glory.

Are you a Papist?

Yes, a Roman Catholic...
a Papist.

Come in, Monsieur...

Monsieur Achille Papin.

I've spoken
with my daughter,

and I give my consent.

I'm delighted. Thank you.
Good-bye, sir.

Good-bye, Monsieur Papin.

Good-bye, ladies.

Good-bye, monsieur.

- See you soon.
- Yes.

Ah, thank you.

Very good.

You will be like a star
in the heavens.

No one has ever sung
as well as you will sing.

You will be the only star.

The others will fade
by themselves.

The emperor
will come to hear you,

and so will
the modest seamstress.

You have talent enough

to distract the rich
from their riches

and console the poor
in their misery.

Well, Filippa...

are you making progress
with Mr. Papin?

Yes, Father.

A voice within me calls you

It calls you from my heart

Come now, don't resist

It is the voice of joy

I tremble, yet I listen

I'm fearful of my joy

Desire, love, and doubt

Are battling in my heart!

Come with me, then
my beauty

Masetto loves me still

I'll make a great lady of you

Ah, my soul weakens already

Come, come

A voice within me calls you

I tremble, yet I listen

Come now, don't resist

I'm fearful of my joy

Let us go, my beauty

A voice within me calls you

Masetto loves me still

You will be a great lady

Ah, my soul weakens already

Oh, come

Oh, come

Let us go

Yes, hand and heart uniting

Each other's love requiting

Love will unite us

Yes, hand and heart uniting

Each other's love requiting

Love will unite us

Love will unite us.

Love will unite us.

Good day, madame

I don't wish to continue
my singing lessons.

Father, please let Monsieur Papin
know of my decision.

God's paths run
across the rivers too, my child.

Kindly give this to your guest.

Yes, sir.

Good-bye, my life

Good-bye, my heart

Good-bye, my hopes.

Achille Papin took
the first boat to Frederikshavn

and from there
returned to Paris.

That's the house over there.

Many years later,

one September night in 1871...

Do come in.

"Dear ladies...

Do you remember me?

When I think of you,
my heart is filled

with the perfume
of wild lilies of the valley.

Will the memory of a Frenchman's
devotion bend your hearts

to save the life
of a French woman?

The unfortunate bearer of this letter,
Madame Babette Hersant,

like my beautiful empress herself,

has had to flee Paris.

Civil war has raged
in our streets.

Madame Hersant's
husband and son were shot.

She herself only narrowly escaped
General Galliffet's blood-stained hands.

She has lost all she possessed
and dares not remain in France.

Her nephew works as a cook
on a ship that sails to Frederikshavn,

and he has arranged
passage for her.

She asked whether I knew
any good people in Denmark.

This immediately
brought forth your image,

so sacred to my heart.

For 35 years, Miss Filippa...

I have deplored the fate
that kept your voice

from filling
the Grand Opera of Paris.

But when tonight I think of you,
no doubt surrounded

by a warm
and happy swarm of children...

and then think of myself —
a greying and lonely old man,

forgotten by those who once
applauded and adored me —

I feel it is you who chose
the better part in life.

What is fame?

The grave awaits us all.

And yet, my lost Zerlina,

even as I write this, I feel

that the grave is not the end.

In paradise I shall hear
your voice again.

There you will be
the great artist

God meant you to be.

Oh, how you will
enchant the angels!

Babette can cook.

Deign to receive, my ladies,
the humble homage of the friend

who was once Achille Papin."


we fear
we cannot employ you.

We do not have
sufficient income

to allow us to engage

such an experienced

But I wish to work
only for Monsieur Papin's friends.

I'll work for nothing.

If you won't take me on,

death is all that's left.

Stay with us.

Yes, stay.

It has to soak.

You must let it soak.

Let it soak.

You slice it.


You soak it in water.

A little ale.

A little ale.


Then like this
through a... "sieve."

- Tamis.
- Yes, through a tamis.

Ale-and-bread soup.

Ale-and-bread soup.

Oui, oui.
Then it cooks for one hour.

- It must cook for one hour.
- Cook.

- Bonjour, Monsieur Larsen.
- Good morning, Madame Babette.

- Oignons.
- Two onions.

Two onions.

- Sucre.
- Sugar.

- Twenty skillings.
- Twenty skillings.


Twenty skillings.

Au revoir, Monsieur Larsen.

Au revoir, Madame Babette.


Here you are.

Thank you, Babette.

It's incredible.

Since Babette came,
we have more money than before.

Babette had now worked
for the pastor's daughters

for 14 years.

- Not fresh.
- Not fresh?

My fish aren't fresh?

They were swimming
two minutes ago!

- How much?
- Thirty skillings.

- Twenty.
- Thirty.

- Thirty.
- Forty.


All right. Give me your basket
and take them away.

Thank you very much!

Those two for 30?

No! That's enough, now!

Fifty for these, and that's that.

- Good morning.
- Bonjour, Madame Babette.

I'd like a small piece
of bacon.

The last one I got
was rancid.

I can't understand that.

For that is the land

Where I was born

Don't you miss France?

My only tie to France
is a lottery ticket

that a faithful friend in Paris
renews for me every year.

That's not much.

Thank you very much.

Au revoir, Madame Babette.

- She's a clever one.
- Yes, she is.

These sins of your youth
will be forgiven, Christopher.

Christ loved us and cleansed us
of our sins with his blood.


You who seek Christ,

turn your eyes
to the vault of heaven.

There you'll see the signs
of his everlasting kingdom...

the eternal light.

For thine is the kingdom,

the power, and the glory,
forever and ever. Amen.

And thank you, Lord,
for sending Babette to us.

She helps our little sisters
so they can devote themselves

to the most wretched
among thy little flock. Amen.

As the years went by,

the pastor's disciples became
somewhat querulous and quarrelsome,

so that sad little schisms
would arise in the congregation.

It may have been
long ago, Solveig,

but I remember very well

how badly you once treated me.

You remember
how badly I treated you?

Well, I remember
how jealous you were.

You were anything but nice
to my poor mother.

Let us all sing
"Thy Kingdom Come, O Lord."

My good Paul,

you cheated me that time.

I've always known it!

Always known it — ha!

You can't even remember
what you had for supper yesterday.

I remember perfectly well.

I've always known
that you cheated me.

Now, now! May we have
some peace and quiet?

You think my dear husband
will forgive me for being unfaithful?

We were so young.

That's no excuse.

I was married to him.
You made me do it.


But you wanted to yourself.
- You tempted me.

Will God forgive me...

or will my soul be tormented
for what we did?

Yes, he will.

God forgives everything.

Doesn't he, Martine?

Dear brothers and sisters,

you know that December 15th
is the hundredth anniversary

of our dear father's birth.

Filippa and I have long
looked forward to this day,

and we wish to celebrate it

as if our dear father
were still among us.

I won't hide from you

that my sister and I
are much aggrieved

at the intolerance and discord

among us.

We beg you to remember

that peace and brotherhood
should reign here.

I've seen through you,

You're a sly one.

That's all for today.

It's from France.

It's for
Madame Babette Hersant.

- Thank you.
- It's from France.

Yes, thank you.

It's for Babette.

There's a letter for you,

Thank you.

Dear God.

I won the lottery.

Ten thousand francs!


Congratulations, Babette.

Thank you.

Well, it had to happen.

The Lord gave —
- And the Lord took away.

- Thank you for your help.
- You're welcome.

I have a favour to ask, ladies.

Certainly, Babette.

Sit down.

I'd like to prepare
the celebration dinner

for the pastor's birthday
by myself.

But dear Babette, we didn't
intend to give a dinner party.

My sister and I were thinking
of a modest supper

followed by a cup of coffee.

You know we've never
offered our guests

anything more.

I'd like to prepare
a French dinner.

A French dinner?

Please. Just once.
A real French dinner.

A real French dinner...

All right, Babette.

Very well, Babette.

I'd like to pay for it
with my own money.

No, Babette.
Out of the question.

- We couldn't allow that.
- No, Babette. Absolutely not.


have I ever asked you
for anything?

Hear my prayer today.
It comes from my heart.

Babette's right.

It's the first time she's ever
asked us for anything...

and possibly the last.

- So be it, Babette.
- It's agreed.

Thank you.

I'll have to ask
for a few days off

to give my nephew instructions
concerning the dinner.

Ah, yes, your nephew.

It was his boat
that brought you

from France
to Frederikshavn.

- Take some time off.
- Of course, Babette.

Thank you, ladies.

She'll be leaving us soon.

Her heart is already in France.
We know that.

We mustn't neglect
our old people

now that we must manage
on our own again.

- She'll be back in a week.
- Yes, but for how long?

Thank you, Johannes.

Welcome back, Babette.
Did you have a good trip?

Very nice, thank you.

Did you meet your nephew
and make your arrangements?

Yes, everything went just fine.

I gave my nephew
a list of the goods

he's to bring from France.


I'm worried about this.

I'm not too happy
about this French dinner either.

My little quails!

There she is.

Praise the Lord.

All the goods arrived safely.

What goods, Babette?

The ingredients for the dinner.

For the French dinner.

Surely that's not wine?

It's a Clos de Vougeot 1845...

from Chez Philippe
on rue Montorgeuil.

We meant no harm.

Filippa and I merely wanted
to grant Babette's wish.

We had no idea
where it might lead.

And now...

we've exposed ourselves

to dangerous forces
that may bring evil upon us.

I can't even tell you

what you may be given
to eat and drink.

What will happen to us?

Lord, grant us thy mercy.

Forgive me.

Don't cry, Martine.

Oh, how often
I think of my father now.

I feel he's looking down

and watching his daughters
use his home

for a witches' sabbath!

We shall be silent

upon all matters
of food and drink.

Out of love
for our little sisters,

we promise,
no matter what happens,

not to say a single word
about the food or drink.

Not one comment
will pass our lips.

The tongue.

The tongue,
that strange little muscle,

has accomplished great
and glorious deeds for man.

But it's also an unruly evil,

full of deadly poison.

On the day we solemnly
pay homage to our great master,

we shall preserve
our tongues for prayer...

in gratitude
for all he meant to us.

- The Lord be praised.
- Grant us thy salvation.

Thank you.

It will be as if we never
had the sense of taste.


My heart's true home

O name forever dear

Take not thought
so anxiously, careful one

For your daily food or raiment

Never would you give
a stone or serpent

To your child
who asks for bread

- A letter from Mrs. Löwenhielm.
- Thank you.

Get yourself some refreshment
in the kitchen.

This is from Mrs. Löwenhielm.

She says she's received
an unexpected visit

from her nephew,
General Lorens Löwenhielm.

He's spoken of our father
with deep admiration.

She asks if she may bring him
along this evening.

We've received a message
from Mrs. Löwenhielm.

Her nephew, General Lorens
Löwenhielm, will accompany her,

so there will be
12 for dinner, not 11.

The general is with
the royal Swedish court.

He lived in Paris in his youth.

A general.

Don't worry.
There'll be plenty for everyone.

This is for the turtle soup.

I see.

Hold the tablecloth.

Is there anything you need,

No, everything's ready.

The candles.




is vanity.

I obtained everything
you dreamed of...

and satisfied
your every ambition.

But what has it profited me?

Tonight you and I
shall settle accounts.

You must prove to me
I made the right choice back then.

God's will be done.

Good evening.
Thank you, Filippa.

Come inside where it's warm.

They're here.


My heart's true home

O name forever dear

Take not thought
so anxiously, careful one

For your daily food and raiment

Never would you give
a stone or serpent

To your child
who asks for bread

Can the sum of a row of victories
over many years

be defeat?


Here comes the general.

And our dear old
Mrs. Löwenhielm.

She's one of the faithful.

A very warm welcome.

It was so good of you
to invite us.

Thank you for inviting me.

Thank you for coming
such a long way.

Good evening,
Mrs. Löwenhielm.

Good evening,
dear sisters and brothers.

Please sit down.

Good evening.

Good evening.

Come inside where it's warm.


Tell them we're ready to serve.

Babette says dinner is served.

Well, let us take our places
at the table.

We've lost our sense of taste.

Let us pray
in our pastor's own words.

May the bread
nourish my body.

May my body
do my soul's bidding.

May my soul rise up
to serve God eternally.


- Not a word about the food.
- Not a word.

Like at the wedding at Cana:

The food is of no importance.

We won't give it
a single thought.


An amontillado!

And the finest amontillado
I've ever tasted!

This is quite definitely
real turtle soup.

And what a turtle soup!

Now, Erik, the champagne.

One glass for everyone.

But fill the general's glass
whenever it's empty.

It must be some kind
of lemonade.

This is good.

- Here you are, sir.
- Thank you.

This is blinis Demidoff!

And this most certainly is
Veuve Clicquot 1860!

Uh, yes...

I'm quite sure it will snow
all day tomorrow.

I shall never forget
my first meeting

with our pastor,
and the sermon he preached.

I was a depraved

and quarrelsome man.

But I've tried to become

a good Christian.

Do you remember
what he taught us?

"Little children,
love one another."

Little children,
love one another.

Friends, I can assure you that
the pastor's collected sermons

are among the favourite reading
of Her Majesty, the queen.

In the large glasses.


This is good.

This is good.

You remember the time —

it was almost a miracle —

when our pastor had promised
a Christmas sermon

to the church across the fjord?

For two weeks
the weather had been so bad

that no skipper or fisherman
would risk the crossing.

The villagers there

were giving up hope,

but our pastor told them
that if no boat would take him,

he'd come to them
walking upon the waves.

And behold!

Three days before Christmas,
the storm stopped,

and such a hard frost set in
that the fjord froze

from shore to shore,

a thing which had not happened
within the memory of man!

One day in Paris,

after I'd won
a riding competition,

some French officers

invited me to dine

at one of the city's finest
restaurants, the Café Anglais.

The chef, surprisingly enough,
was a woman.

We were served
cailles en sarcophage,

a dish of her own creation.

General Galliffet,
our host for the evening,

explained that this woman,
this head chef,

had the ability

to transform a dinner
into a kind of love affair,

a love affair
that made no distinction

between bodily appetite
and spiritual appetite.

General Galliffet said
that in the past

he'd fought a duel for the love
of a beautiful woman,

but that now there was
no woman in Paris

for whom he'd shed his blood

except for this chef.

She was considered

the greatest culinary genius
of the age.

What we are now eating
is nothing less than

cailles en sarcophage.

But this really is
cailles en sarcophage!

Yes... that it is.

Man shall not merely
refrain from

but also renounce
any thought of food and drink.

Only then can he eat and drink
in the right spirit.

As our pastor always said,

"Dear brothers and sisters,

the only things we may take
with us from our life on earth

are those
we have given away."

Our dear sisters
will be rich in the next life.


Is the food good, Aunt?

Yes, the gale has died down.

Water in the small glasses.

Here you are, sir.

Just look
at these beautiful grapes!

"And they came
unto the brook of Eshcol

and cut down a branch
with one cluster of grapes.

And two of them bore it
between them on a staff."

Mercy and truth
have met together.

Righteousness and bliss
shall kiss one another.

Man, in his foolishness
and shortsightedness,

believes he must make
choices in this life.

He trembles
at the risks he takes.

We all know...


But no.

Our choice
is of no importance.

The moment comes

when our eyes are opened,

and we see and realize

that grace is infinite.

We need only await it

with confidence

and acknowledge it
in gratitude.

Grace makes no conditions.

And see!

That which we have chosen

is given us...

and that which we have refused...

is also granted us.

Yes, that which we rejected
is granted us.

Mercy and truth
have met together.

Righteousness and bliss...

shall kiss one another.

Here you are, sir.

You scoundrel!

You cheated me
on that timber you sold me.

- I cheated you badly, beloved brother.
- I knew it.

But you know what?

I played a trick on you
that you never knew about.

Then I deserved it.


is there more
of the Clos de Vougeot?

Can the general have
more "Closhoufo"?

Erik, leave the bottle there.

After the coffee,
in the small glasses.

And light the candles
in the sitting room.

"Vie-ux marc...
feene champagne."

I hope you enjoyed the meal.

Thank you.

God bless you,
dear Solveig.

God bless you too,
dear Anna.

God bless you, Christopher.

My brother!

Oh, watch the day
hurry off once again

As the sun sinks
into the western sea

The time for us to rest

O God, you who dwell

In heavenly light

Who reign on high
in heaven's hall

Be our infinite light
in the valley of night

The sand in our hourglass
will soon run out

The day is conquered
by the night

The glories of the world
are ending

So brief their day,
so swift their flight

God, may your brightness
never dim

Nor mercy's door
be closed to man


it is time for us to leave.

The general and his aunt
are leaving.

- Thank you for the nice evening.
- Thank you for your help.

You're welcome.

I have been with you...

every day of my life.

Tell me you know that.


I know.

You must also know
that I shall be with you

every day that is left to me.

Every evening I shall sit down
to dine with you.

Not in the flesh...

which means nothing...

but in the spirit.

For tonight
I have learned, my dear...

that in this beautiful world
of ours...

all things are possible.

- Thank you for the lovely evening.
- Thank you for coming.

Thank you for the evening.

Thank you so much!

Thank you
for a wonderful evening!

The clock strikes
and time goes by

Eternity is nigh

Let us use this time to try

To serve the Lord
with heart and mind

So that our true home
we shall find

So that our true home
we shall find

The stars have come nearer.

Perhaps they will
come nearer every night.

Quite possibly there will be
no snow this year.

Oh, that was a good dinner!

They all thought
it was a very good dinner.

I was once head chef
at the Café Anglais.

We'll all remember
this evening

when you've gone back
to Paris.

I'm not going back to Paris.

You're not going back to Paris?

No one's waiting
for me there.

They're all gone.

And I have no money.

No money?

But the 10,000 francs?

All spent.

Ten thousand francs?

Dinner for 12 at the Café Anglais
costs 10,000 francs.

But dear Babette,

you ought not to have given away
all you had for our sake.

It wasn't just for your sake.

So you will be poor now
all your life?

A great artist is never poor.

Was this the sort of dinner
you'd prepare at the Café Anglais?

I could make them happy

when I did my very best.
Papin understood that.

Achille Papin?


He'd say...

"Through all the world there goes
one long cry from the heart of the artist:

Give me leave
to do my utmost."

But this is not the end,

I feel for certain
that this is not the end.

In paradise

you will be the great artist

God meant you to be.

Ah, how you will enchant
the angels!