One of the most famous films about food (at least for those of a certain age), “Babette’s Feast,” is getting a remake. And it will be set in Minnesota.
An adaptation of a Karen Blixen story, Gabriel Axel’s 1988 film won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Now, Deadline is reporting that Alexander Payne (“Sideways”) has signed on to direct a new version, with Guy Branum (“The Mindy Project”) writing the new script.
“The film will be set in a religious community in small-town Minnesota, where two older, unmarried sisters accept a refugee, who leads them to confront their regrets, over an extraordinary meal,” Deadline reports.
The original movie follows the same premise, only filmed in 19th-century Denmark (Blixen’s story takes place in Norway), where the devout sisters had taken over their father’s small, strict Lutheran congregation after his death. Their visitor, Babette, a political refugee from Paris, takes over for them as housekeeper and cook, and clearly has more culinary skills than do the sisters.
When the siblings make plans to celebrate what would have been their father’s 100th birthday, Babette, who had come into some money from France, offers to cook the meal.
She heads to France to buy the ingredients, and when the sisters see what she has brought back — a live giant turtle, quails and plenty of wine, among other goods — they worry that the indulgent meal will be sinful. The church members huddle and agree not to talk about what they are eating, in an effort to thwart any evil that may be part of the gathering.
As they dine on the best food of their lives, sipping one glass of wine after another, they are indeed transformed physically and spiritually, though not in the way they feared. They become happy, chatty people (their cheeks get rosier as the meal goes on). An O. Henry-like twist to the story wraps up the tale.
So what adaptations should a Minnesota film make? Give us your suggestions. What kind of refugee — and meal — could make this update shine? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can rent the original film on Amazon Prime.
Lee Svitak Dean • @StribTaste