S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r
Babette's Feast aka Babettes gæstebud [Blu-ray]
(Gabriel Axel, 1987)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Det Danske Filminstitut
Video: Artificial Eye / Criterion Collection - Spine # 665
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
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 /1.66:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
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)
•Interview with Stephane Audren (6:52)
•BFI Trailer (1:32)
• Theatrical Trailer (3:24)
interviews with director Gabriel Axel (8:41) and actor
Stéphane Audran (24:21)
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.
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.
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
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'.
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
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!
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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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