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(1987), G [Hard G*] (1hr 41min)

Final Score
Analysis Date
Date Posted
Influence Density
November21, 2009
November 25, 2009

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(1987), G [Hard G*] ...

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Panorama Film A/S, Det Danske Filminstitut, Nordisk Film, Rungstedlundfonden Distribution (US): MGM Home Entertainment Director(s): Gabriel Axel Producer(s): Just Betzer, Bo Christensen, Benni Korzen, Pernille Siesbye Written by: Novel - Karen Blixen, Screenplay - Gabriel Axel Cinematography/Camera: Henning Kristiansen Music: Per Nørgaard Film Editing: Finn Henriksen Production Design: Sven Wichmann Viewed MGM Home Entertainment DVD

This analysis is sponsored by TC and TM.

With a final score of 90 out of 100 it would seem this film is as content-tame as a litter of six newborn cuddly kittens (figuratively one for each of the six CAP investigation areas W, I, S, D, O, M). Be careful of impressions based solely on the final score. If the final score is less than one hundred, something is in the content that should warrant your moral scrutiny before watching the film. Sometimes one or more of those seemingly cuddly kittens can, in an instant, become a fireball of lightning with claws and teeth which can be an event of lifelong influence to the one who is victimized by it. After all, the caliber of our coping skills, behavior choices, perception and many other traits are, at least in part, a product of all the things that happen to us. Analysis of Babette's Feast found that the alcohol content of the film is one of those little cuddly fireballs of lightning -- the "18-proof" content of the film (about 9% - half of the Drugs/Alcohol investigation area). Please read on before you decide whether to let your kids snuggle with this kitten.

The 18-proof content is unfortunate because Babette's Feast demonstrates in other ways a lot of good moral standards which one would do well to emulate: sacrifice; loyalty; honor; integrity; gratitude. As films with ignoble content can and do influence our moral standards in a destructive way, films with high moral standards influence, too, but in a morally wholesome way.

The final score of 90 makes the overall magnitude of the content of this film equivalent to a "hard" G in the comparative baseline database but a G nonetheless. While five of the six CAP investigation areas found programming to earn the film G-equivalent investigation area scores (87 to 100 out of 100), the Drugs/Alcohol investigation area found enough alcohol content to earn this little fireball of lightning a score of 67 out of 100. Because of this the film draws a yellow alert light of the green/yellow/red CAPCon Alert lights, seen in the upper left corner of this webpage, rather than the green light typically earned by many other G-rated films. That the film earned a 67 in Drugs/Alcohol makes the film equivalent to a "lite" PG-13 (55 to 67 out of 100) in the Drugs/Alcohol area.

The DVD cover reads that the pastor in this film taught salvation through self-denial. I saw no evidence that the self-denial portrayed by the characters was to gain salvation. I could have missed a key word or phrase that said so but watching the film on DVD with closed-captioning makes such a mistake unlikely. I have no explanation why the cover claims what could not be found.

One more observation before I get into the traditional "review" part of this report: a note on the closed-captioning. It does not always match word-for-word the character-spoken words in the English language selection. Even the narration does not always match the closed-captioning. However, the differences between what is spoken and the closed-captioning text are of minor significance to the story. An example of the differences includes the narrator saying "...who were both well past the days of their youth" while the closed-captioning reads "...who were both past the first flush of youth." In essence, they say the same thing.

Circa the later half of the 19th century in a desolate hamlet on the West coast of Denmark, French cook Babette Hersant (Stephane Audran), fleeing the family-killing ravages of the French civil war, appears on the doorstep of middle-age Puritans Martina (Birgitte Federspiel) and Phillipa (Bodil Kjer), daughters of the now-deceased community minister (Pouel Kern) who taught self-denial and good works. After 14 years of grateful service to Martina and Phillipa, Babette won a lottery of 10,000 francs. In an expression of gratitude and love, Babette's desire for that money is to use it for a fabulous French meal to celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of Martina and Phillipa's father.

But the elders are not so sure about a brazen and shameless French meal in this quaint and secluded Danish community of faithful servants to God who are and have been for years dedicated to self-denial and rejection of Earthly pleasures. The elders were so fearful that they would lose their souls to the "Satanic influence" of a pleasure-laden Heathen meal from France. But the elders decided to let the meal happen but to remain silent about it throughout the meal, to never utter the simplest positive word or compliment about it.

Martina and Phillipa had remained loyal and faithful to their father and his ministry, chaste in every sense of the word, never marrying though not because of the lack of suitors during their youth. Aside from a couple local boys who apparently only went to church to gaze upon the beauty of the young Martina and Phillipa, one suitor was army officer Lorens Löwenhielm (Jarl Kulle) who became so frustrated through his unrequited love for Phillipa he lumbered off to eventually wed another (Tine Miehe-Renard), a lady-in-waiting to Queen Sophia. Another suitor was famous opera singer Achille Papin (Jean-Philippe Lafont). It was Papin who "sent" Babette to Martina and Phillipa.

The story continues and presents itself in a well-woven fabric of continuity and the complexity of simple life. I will resume discussion of it at the point of the "Heathen" meal.

While on the part of Babette the meal was representative of "all she had" self-sacrifice [Mark 12:4] and was indeed opulent as well as sumptuous-looking, it was marinated in alcohol ... as were the guests eventually. Each of the participants portrayed a desire for more ... and more ... and more to the point of becoming obviously drunk or at least to the point of getting a buzz from the alcohol: to the point of displaying bottle-born camaraderie, friendship and lowering of inhibitions.

How is it that self-sacrifice redeems the sin of drunkenness? Is the self-sacrifice shown still noble when it leads by inherent feature to the sin of excess [Eph. 5:18]? An ignoble result does not rhyme with a noble intent. Yes, Jesus drank wine and even turned water into wine at the wedding [John 2:7 - 9] but He never drank enough to get drunk nor did He expect the guests to get drunk on the wine He made. Bad water was common in Jesus' time and wine was even recommended to soothe the stomach from all the bacteria and other creepy-crawlies in the water of the day [1 Tim. 5:23]. But in no case was wine to be drank to excess. Then or now. Since "drunk" is methusko {meth-oos'-ko}, meaning to intoxicate; to make drunk; to get drunk; become intoxicated, "wine" can be any intoxicating substance including beer and hard liquor, illegal drugs or abuse of prescription drugs. The issue is do not abuse the body by intoxicating it [1 Cor. 6:19]. Though it is not a sin to drink, it is a sin to get drunk OR to influence to get drunk OR to drink in defiance such as underage drinking.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) found that exposure to booze and drinking in and as entertainment emboldens the viewer, in particular the middle school age stratum -- the PG and PG-13 age stratum, to challenge the law and parental authority and experiment with alcohol. Though the ACP study used R-rated films since it was believed R-rated films contained the most drinking (they were apparently not aware of our R-13 finding or with Harvard University researcher's agreement with it, the focus is on the influence of exposure to alcohol in and as entertainment regardless of the film rating. Within the ACP study population of 4544 middle school students (90% were under fourteen years old), the prevalence of having tried alcohol without parental knowledge was

  • 46% of those with no restrictions on which rating may be viewed
  • 16% of those with partial restrictions on which rating may be viewed
  • four percent of those with complete restrictions.

    So, mom/dad, I feel you should at least know about the "18-proof" of this film before you decide whether to let your kids watch it.

    A note about the self-sacrifice and good works portrayed by this film. By God's Word no amount of good works will gain anyone Salvation. While God indeed wants us to help others and do so cheerfully, sacrificing as we are able, we will not gain Salvation by it. The only way, again by His Word, we may be graced with Salvation is to accept by faith that Jesus Christ is Lord and the resurrected Savior [Rom. 10:9]. Period. No good works will gain us Salvation. And no bad works will keep it away for when Jesus gives you salvation He forgives your sins: past, present, future. That is why God sent us Jesus, folks. His Lamb. His Sacrifice for our sakes. No one, not ourselves nor others can give us Salvation nor can anyone take it away. Only Jesus can give Salvation and He won't take it away.

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - 100 out of 100
    This film was pleasantly free of matters of violence and crime.

    Impudence/Hate (I) - 97 out of 100
    While there was some argumentation borne of intoxication*, the only issue found which was incorporable into this scoring area was an extortion of Martina and Phillipa by Babette using her own life as leverage to influence their decision. On a positive note, there is not one instance of profanity throughout the film

    * An item of assault on morality and decency found cannot be incorporated into two or more investigation areas. The argumentation, borne of alcohol consumption, was incorporated into the Drugs/Alcohol investigation area scoring.

    Sexual Immorality (S) - 90 out of 100
    Papin gets rather animated with Phillipa and another woman. He places his hands in very close proximity to the breasts of the woman, moves his hands in motions that parallel the geometry of Phillipa's breasts without touching them and obviously paws their arms and shoulders like a velvet garment. If that is "just the way he expresses himself", he needs to change his way. Just think of it this way, what if that were your daughter he was waving his hands around and pawing?

    Other than this, the only matter of behavioral demonstrations of the sexual nature were a tale of a youthful sexual misdeed and a reference to a sexual encounter.

    Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 67 out of 100
    This horse has already been beat to death above. But additional points of the drugs/alcohol nature were the smoking, the giving of booze to a minor and an additional instance adolescent drinking of his own accord.

    Offense to God (O) - 87 out of 100
    There were a few demonstrations of behavioral choices that might warrant your foreknowledge. One was the sowing of discord among brethren by Babette by threatening of established local standards. God advised men more than once to stay out of territories the residents of which would contaminate wholesome Word-borne values. He further warns us of seven things He hates [Prov 6:16 - 19]: one of them is sowing discord among brethren. And one case was noted of budding adultery as a married man speaks amorously to a woman who is not his wife. [Prov. 7:21] There is, however, not one use of God's name in vain with or without the four letter expletive.

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
    Not a single murder or suicide was noted in the entire 101 minutes of this film.


    If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.


  • Mark 12:44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything -all she had to live on.
  • Eph. 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
  • John 2:7 - 9 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the [six] waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto [give to first] the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
  • 1 Tim. 5:23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.
  • 1 Cor. 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
  • Rom. 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
  • Prov. 6:16 - 19 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: (17) A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, (18) An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, (19) A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
  • Prov. 7:21 With her [the adulteress] much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. [Though Prov. 7:21 addresses the adulteress, switch the gender and it works just as fine. "What is fair for the goose is fair for the gander." There is nothing wrong with talking to someone of the opposite sex who is not your spouse as long as it is not with amorous intent or otherwise sexual in nature.]

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Jer. 37:9 This is what the LORD says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, 'The Babylonians [the destroyers from within] will surely leave us.' They will not!
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences and present it to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    Babette's Feast (1987) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - 100 out of 100
  • none noted

    Impudence/Hate (I) - 97 out of 100
  • extortion with one's own life as leverage

    Sexual Immorality (S) - 92 out of 100
  • man pawing at two women
  • tale of youthful sexual misdeed
  • reference to sexual encounter

    Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 67 out of 100
  • smoking, by more than one person in the same room
  • giving booze to a minor
  • long sequence of alcohol consumption as desirable with portrayal of consumers becoming intoxicated, some portraying bottle-borne false bravado, lowering of inhibitions and camaraderie
  • adolescent drinking

    Offense to God (O) - 87 out of 100
  • sowing discord
  • dreamstate images of evil and demons
  • threatening wholesome standards with worldly ways
  • married man speaking amorously to a woman who is not his wife

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
  • none noted

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    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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