>On Friday we watched Babette’s feast. A movie about two danish sisters who reside in the Jutland region during the 19th century. This climate is cold and austere, yet beautiful in it’s own way. This austerity has a great effect on everything that they do.
They feed the needy with ale bread, a terrible concoction of stale bread mixed with flat ale. It resembles glue. Even the Sunday supper after church is quite terrible, as evidenced by the general.
The architecture is very simple. Small white houses with thatched roofs. Ceilings are not tall to help with keeping the interior warm. There appears to be a central foyer in which all the rooms of the house are off of. All of which have doors, again to keep the heat in the rooms where they are. There is no electricity, so lighting is by candle or oil lamp. Walls are white to help keep the interiors light. One thing that I did notice is they used lots of dark wood, which is the opposite of what I think of in their region. Typically you find Lighter woods and Lighter painted pieces, creating a light interior to offset the dark, cold, dreary outside. This type of interior space was seen when the general was in Switzerland.
The film is centered around Babette, their servant, by necessity of herself, not the sisters. Babette was forced from Paris where she lived as a renowned chef. Babette is extremely grateful to be able to serve the sisters and does so with much humbleness. Word comes that Babette has won the lottery, of course the sisters think she is moving back to Paris, which is not the case. The sisters fathers 100th birthday is fast approaching and Babette convinces the sisters to let her cook a feast, a true French feast. Reluctantly, they allow her. Babette runs to Paris to gather everything that she needs and has it brought back by her nephew. The kitchen now has huge shimmering copper pots. The dining room is set with a white table cloth, new white china, sterling candle sticks, tall white candles and enough crystal to replicate the hall of mirrors at Versailles. The table glows as do the guests dining. Light is centered on the table, everything else starts to fade away, out of your field of vision. This effect is very dramatic. All light was dramatic without the use of electricity.
The use of lighting defined the spaces. All lights were there for necessity, not just to look good or illuminate an entire room. Everything was specific. A specific light for a specific task, nothing more.