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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Babette's Feast aka Babettes gæstebud [Blu-ray]

 

(Gabriel Axel, 1987)

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - LEFT

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

 

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Det Danske Filminstitut

Video: Artificial Eye / Criterion Collection - Spine # 665

 

Disc:

Region: 'B' / Region 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:43:09.625 / 1:43:36.793

Disc Size: 33,501,038,754 bytes / 46,278,433,083 bytes

Feature Size: 29,754,501,120 bytes / 22,966,308,864 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps / 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12 / 27

Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: February 25th, 2012 / July 23rd, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 / 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio Danish 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

DTS-HD Master Audio Danish 2011 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2011 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles (both):

English, none

 

Extras:

Interview with Stephane Audren (6:52)

BFI Trailer (1:32)

Theatrical Trailer (3:24)

New interviews with director Gabriel Axel (8:41) and actor Stéphane Audran (24:21)
Karen Blixen—Storyteller, a 1995 documentary about the author of the film’s source story, who wrote under the pen name Isak Dinesen (1:30:07)
New visual essay by filmmaker Michael Almereyda (26:00)
New interview with sociologist Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson about the significance of cuisine in French culture (17:00)
Trailer (1:28)
New English subtitle translation
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Mark Le Fanu and Dinesen’s 1950 story

 

Bitrate:

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Description: Adapted from a story by Out of Africa author Isak Dinesen, it tells the story of a 19th Century religious community on Denmark s remote and windswept coast. Into this austere environment comes Babette, a mysterious refugee from France s civil war.

When she mounts a French gourmet feast to mark the community s anniversary, the local elders are scandalized. Just who is the strangely talented Babette, who has terrified this pious town with the prospect of losing their souls for enjoying too much earthly pleasure?

Winner of the 1988 Oscar for best Foreign Language Film.

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

The Film:

The Danish/French Babette's Feast is based on a story by Isak Dinesen, also the source of the very different Out of Africa (1985). Stephane Audran plays Babette, a 19th century Parisian political refugee who seeks shelter in a rough Danish coastal town. Philippa (Bodil Kjer) and Martina (Birgitte Federspiel), the elderly daughters of the town's long-dead minister, take Babette in. As revealed in flashback, Philippa and Martina were once beautiful young women (played by Hanne Stensgaard and Vibeke Hastrup), who'd forsaken their chances at romance and fame, taking hollow refuge in religion. Babette holds a secret that may very well allow the older ladies to have a second chance at life. This is one of the great movies about food, but there are way too many surprises in Babette's Feast to allow us to reveal anything else at this point (except that Ingmar Bergman "regulars" Bibi Andersson and Jarl Kulle have significant cameo roles).

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Based on Isak Dinesen's novel, this is a literary adaptation thatmakes the transition to screen with grace and dignity, matching every word of the book with a moment, an image or a sound.

The story is a simple one, uncomplicated and unfussed. Babette has worked for her sisters all her life. When she wins the lottery, she decides to celebrate by throwing a huge dinner party for all the entire village. Starting from that simple premise the story of Babette, her employers, and the residents of the village are told. We are shown the attitudes, peculiarities and ways of the village folk as they all prepare for Babette's Feast.

Babette was a French chef of the highest calibre, exiled to the Scandinavian coast after the French uprising of 1871. In exile, she proceeded to look after two elderly spinsters. The community revolves around the strict, puritan religious sect (whose members are no longer seeing eye to eye) and the sea, whose violent, dark force casts its shadow over all their lives. For a community used to pickled herring, a 10000 franc gastronomic event to end all gastronomic events comes as a shock. This is where the film really scores. Sumptuous to the eye, it is one of those films that makes you wish for taste-o-rama technology. The portrayal of Babette's preparations for the event and the care she takes in creating the feast, are as gloriously studied as the consumption of the food itself. I wish I was sitting at that table now.

Excerpt from Edinburgh Film Society located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Babette's Feast gets an authentically grainy transfer to Blu-ray from Artificial Eye.  It sneaks into dual-layered territory and has a strong bitrate for the 1 3/4 hour feature. The period piece has many grays and blacks in the art direction. The 1080P supports solid contrast exhibiting decent black levels and film-like richness in the slightly bastardized 1.78:1 frame.  It's very clean showcasing some hi-def detail and there are really no flaws with the rendering. The textures may be heavy for some tastes and there is some noise to content with. This Blu-ray probably looks close to the theatrical version of the film Babette's Feast. Those familiar with the film should appreciate the HD.

Significant differences between the Criterion and the Artificial Eye Blu-rays. The Criterion is in 1.66:1 aspect ratio and shows more information in the frame (notably at the bottom.) Where the AE can look greenish, the Criterion might be more blue. The Criterion skin tones can be much warmer and overall the image is darker. The bitrate is max'ed out on both and while I think they both look very film-like in 1080P, and not knowing which is more theatrically correct, I'd lean to the Criterion simply because of the AR. Comparing the captures, I suppose you can decide for yourself which you prefer. 

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Audio :

Audio is in the form of a linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 1536 kbps in the original Danish. The score by Per Nørgård sounds very good via the lossless. The film is devoid of any strong aggressive sound and even the dialogue is quite passive but  clear and supported with optional English subtitles. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

Criterion's audio is transferred via a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 2011 kbps in the original Danish language. I wouldn't say the difference between this and the AE audio was obvious but I did suspect the linear had a more pronounced high-end while the Criterion exported a stronger bass response. The Criterion has optional English subtitles with an occasional, slight difference from the AE in terms of the translation. It is coded region 'A'.

 

Extras :

Supplements consist of a short interview with Stephane Audren (Babette), a BFI Trailer and the longer, original theatrical trailer.

Criterion, predictably, vault ahead in terms of supplements offering new interviews with director Gabriel Axel (8:41) and actor Stéphane Audran (24:21) plus the 1.5 hour 1995 documentary about the author of the film’s source story - entitled Karen Blixen—Storyteller and directed by Christian Braad Thomsen. It is in Danish with English subtitles. Criterion include an excellent new visual essay by filmmaker Michael Almereyda running 26-minutes. There is also a new 17-minute interview with sociologist Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson about the significance of cuisine in French culture, a trailer and the package has a linear notes booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Mark Le Fanu and Dinesen’s 1950 story.

 

Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I've seen Babette's Feast three times and always have the same reaction (besides being very hungry!). This is a comfortable, warm affirmation of life focusing the positive aspects in your short existence on this earth. The Artificial Eye Blu-ray provides a textured a/v presentation worthy of showing to friends in my Home Theatre. It is another of those films I am extremely happy to have in the richness of 1080P. Recommended!

Babette's Feast remains a rewarding, and unique, film experience and it's nice to have the option of releases. Criterion score significant points with the AR and bountiful extras - and that is the choice we recommend!  

Gary Tooze

March 28th, 2012

June 25th, 2013

 

 


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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