Rejuvenation of the Spirit

Does our gloomy weather get you down?  Would you like to have a new way of thinking about things?  Would you like to spend some time in a warmer and sunnier location, maybe do some things that would give you more pleasure in life?
The women in the following movies find pleasure almost by accident. Their senses are reawakened in different ways. In each one of the films, there is a very special scene where you may find yourself saying YES or maybe laughing out loud with the characters.

Babette’s Feast, takes place in a village in Denmark after the Paris uprising in 1871. It is based on a story by Isak Dinesen, which can be found in a collection of stories by the author called Anecdotes of Destiny.  Babette is a political refugee from France where, unknown to the Danish villagers, she was a gourmet chef.  She meets two sisters and out of the goodness of their hearts, they allow her to work as their cook and housekeeper in exchange for room and board. The two sisters lead a rather grim life where the atmosphere is all shades of gray and their very strict religion considers all pleasures to be sinful. Their father is dead but the 100th anniversary of his birth is fast approaching and they want to hold a celebration.  Babette has recently come into some money and she wants to prepare a special feast for the event. When Babette has worked her magic on the meal and the sisters taste the food, the simultaneous look of pleasure and guilt on their faces is priceless.

The second film is Enchanted April, based on the novel by Elizabeth von Arnim.  When I first heard the title and knew nothing about the film, I thought April was a person in the film. Instead, April refers to the month of the year.  Lottie and Rose live in England.  The weather has been rather cold, wet, and gloomy, just as our Oregon weather has been. They learn about a villa in Italy that is for rent and leap at the chance to visit there. They are not alone. Two other women, Mrs. Fisher and Caroline Dester, will be sharing the villa with them. Mrs. Fisher is played by Joan Plowright and if you are familiar with her film work, she is her usual forthright self and adds a few notes of discord to the mix. The sun, the warmth and the beauty of their surroundings, however, work their magic on the four people and they begin to relax and see their senses reawaken. Even Mrs. Fisher begins to loosen up. When the husbands of several of the women join the little group, their senses are reawakened as well.
 
The third film is Cold Comfort Farm, based on the novel by Stella Gibbons.  It is the 1930’s and cold comfort is indeed what you will find at that farm.  An old woman, Ada Doom, mostly just stays in her room, but when she mixes with the others, she is constantly muttering to herself “something nasty in the woodshed”. Ada is, of course, a rather crazy and spooky person. Be assured, though, that by the end of the film, you will know what has happened in that woodshed.
 
Into the mix comes Flora Poste, who is only twenty years old and has recently lost both of her parents. Although she comes from a well-to-do family, she only has a small inheritance. She wants to become an author in the style of Jane Austen and looks for a situation where she will have a variety of experiences with a variety of personalities. When a cousin asks her to move in with the cousin’s family on the farm, she agrees to give farm living a try.
 
There are plenty of colorful characters to fuel Flora’s imagination. The other relatives at the farm are rather rough around the edges and Flora tries to transform them into her image of refinement. Well, you can just imagine how well that goes over with the group!  Flora soldiers on, however, and she and the other residents of the farm begin to slowly change.
 
Flora tries to teach one of the women, who is almost perpetually pregnant, about birth control, and the woman bursts out laughing. She cannot imagine such a thing. Chances are you will find yourself laughing right along with the woman. Of course, birth control methods in the 1930’s were very basic and not always effective, but the incident is illustrative of some of the changes Flora tries to implement. If you try this film may you find it as enjoyable as I did.
 
Happy viewing!