Alexander Payne signs on to helm Babette’s Feast reimagining
After losing his Netflix project a couple of months ago, Alexander Payne (Downsizing) has found a new film in the form of a reimagining of the 1988 Oscar-winning Danish film Babette’s Feast, which he has signed on to direct for Unique Features, according to Deadline.
Adapted from the 1950 short story of the same name (read it here) by Karen Blixen (writing as Isak Denisen who also wrote the story that inspired Out of Africa), the original film takes place in a small village in 19th century Denmark, a town Denisen described as a “child’s toy-town of little wooden pieces”. The story centers on two sisters who grew up here under the watchful eye of their father, a local pastor whose flock is almost a singular religion unto itself.
Despite their beauty and the ogling eyes of would-be suitors, the girls remain with their father until his death, resigned to grow old with those around them. Years go by until one day a knock comes to their door, on the other side is Babette (Stephane Audran), a tall French woman seeking refuge after fleeing from the civil war that has broken out in Paris. She offers her services as a maid, housekeeper, whatever they need for no charge, only housing. They accept.
Babette becomes almost an extended member of the household and is accepted in the small village to the point the two sisters could hardly imagine life without her. At just such a time Babette falls into some good fortune, which is when she asks to repay the sisters’ kindness by cooking a feast to commemorate what would have been their father’s 100th birthday. Offering a real French feast, the sisters reluctantly accept, nervous what that may mean and you will be pleasantly surprised to learn not even you can anticipate how many layers of thematic depth one meal can offer in a film.
The new film, which is being scripted by Guy Branum (The Mindy Project), will be set in a religious community in small-town Minnesota where the two unmarried sisters accept a refugee and are therefore forced to confront their regrets over an extraordinary meal.
Babette’s Feast will be produced by Unique Features, the banner founded by New Line founder Bob Shaye, alongside Jennifer Wachtell, Benni Korzen and Josi Konski.
(Photo Credit: Backgrid Images)