Religion and Film
For any film to qualify as a religious movie, the subject matter must specifically address a commendable religious figure like Jesus or Muhammad. Additionally, the film must also be narrated from a different point of view tackling topics which shows concern for religious thinkers and spirit world. This includes subjects like hell, heaven and moral issues. Wright considered Babette’s Feast film as a superb candidate for that course-list for religion and film. The film mainly focuses on the anecdote of two virtuous women whose life experience is clearly defined by their religious beliefs. The reality is explored through the foundational myth of Christianity and visual symbols that are derived from faith tradition (Wright, 1997). However, apart from the subject matter of religion, the film itself is strongly religious. Babette’s feast qualifies as a religious film because its subject matter constitutes of religious people and institutions. The lives of the sectarian group of people and persons in the original tale are shaped by their religious convictions. The main characters pray, worship and conduct all their daily affairs within the context of their strong faith.
The film is also concerned with the inner-dynamics of the religious groups over a long period of time and they regard themselves as being religious. The two sisters, Martine and Philippa deny themselves the worldly contentment and they continue directing their father’s small group of disciples. The film also shows the indefatigable work and support the sisters have done towards the poor with the help of maid Babette. Presently, they are still doing the work of a domestic servant in the village and this shows female Christ figures in feeding and bringing grace. At a given time, the prophet’s sect is lost and there is disagreement and quarrels among the disciples. Babette gets some winnings and decides to call and invite the town for a French meal. The two sisters together with the other disciples agree to attend the celebration. The feast offers a favorable environment where old quarrels are healed and past sins are genuinely forgiven. They all acknowledged the reality of world as being enlightened by love. The film emphasizes on the character’s religious dedication. Conversion occurred during the celebration where there is change in character and attitude among the guests. The level of subject matter and narrative interest makes Babette’s feast to qualify as a film in which religion features are outstanding.
In the film, elementary Christian symbolism comes into play and it is saturated with Christian myth of death and resurrection, Christian views of reality and affirmation of the true sacramentality of the created order. Christian symbolism is evidenced when the pastor’s memorial banquet becomes a recapitulation of the last supper and the Christian liturgy. This showed communion, generosity, grace and sacrifice when Babette offered the meal. Additionally the film is mainly played with Christian themes and imagery such as, the heavenly banquet and the redemption of the world (Wright, 1997). The film is all about the unification of all things imaged in a banquet that feeds the body and the soul. I concur that the film’s symbolic matrix is clearly a Christian. The film clearly defines the reality of the world because it is purely physical and it calls up meaning from its deeper depth. In the film, the scenes are arranged in an iconic manner and this enables one to see the scriptural stories in places of a Christian worship. The moments are edged as the annunciation, the crucifixion and the ascension which signify religious symbols. The life that Martine and Philippa had lived and the transfigured world that Babette creates for them is all surrounded with loving kindness. Babette’s feast clearly demonstrates the Trinity better than any other film. In deed, the film is overwhelmingly religious.
Wright, W. M. (1997). Babette’s Feast: A Religious Film. Journal of Religion and Film.Vol. 1, No. 2 Retrieved 10 August 2010 from http://www.unomaha.edu/jrf/BabetteWW.htm