Gabriel Axel

(1918 – 2014)

Director, actor. Born 18 April 1918 in Aarhus, Denmark. Died 9 February 2014, aged 95.

Axel grew up in Paris in a wealthy Danish manufacturer''s family. He moved to Denmark at age 16 after the family''s economic collapse. The same year, he enrolled in the Askov School of Woodworking to learn Danish and later to train as a cabinetmaker.

In 1942 Axel was admitted to the acting school at the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen. After graduating in 1945, he returned to France where he spent five years on stage in Paris, including at the Théâtre de L¿Athéné under the legendary theatre director Louis Jouvet.

In 1948 Axel married Lucie, a Frenchwoman, and in 1950 they moved to Denmark. Axel broke through as a stage director in the early 1950s. His productions included Marcel Aymé''s "Other People''s Heads," Pierre Corneille''s "The Cid" and Jean Giraudoux''s "Duel of Angels."

Axel started directing for television in 1951, the very first year of TV broadcasting in Denmark. Up to 1968, he directed 48 televised dramas.

From 1955, Axel was a director at Nordisk Film. His debut feature, the social-realist drama "Nothing But Trouble" (1955), was highly praised. He went on to direct a string of comedies and farces before making the epic Nordic saga "The Red Mantle" in 1967, which was selected for Cannes competition the same year and won a Technical Grand Prize Special Mention.

Following a series of more or less erotic films and broadly popular comedies, Axel in 1977 launched a prolific career as a director of French TV films, culminating in 1985 with a historical five-episode series, "Les colonnes du ciel" ("Heaven''s Pillars").

In 1987, Axel returned to Denmark to direct what had been his dream project for over 15 years, an adaptation of Karen Blixen''s "Babette''s Feast." After screening at the Cannes film festival, the film became a worldwide success and won the 1988 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. His next films -- the youth drama "Christian" (1989); the historical drama "Royal Deceit" (also known as "Prince of Jutland", 1994), after the legend of Prince Amleth, and starring Helen Mirren, Gabriel Byrne and Christian Bale; and "Laïla the Pure" (2001), a love story set in Morocco -- failed to achieve the same international resonance.

Alongside his directing career, Axel starred in a dozen Danish films, mostly in colourful supporting roles in popular comedies in the 1950s and 60s. He played the lead as the elegant charlatan in "I, a Nobleman" (also known as "The Reluctant Sadist," 1967).

Title Year Function Category
Leïla 2001 Direction, Script DK/Feature
Royal Deceit 1994 Direction, Script Feature
Christian 1989 Direction, Script DK/Feature
Babette''s Feast 1987 Direction, Script DK/Feature
Going for Broke 1977 Direction, Fransktalende mand DK/Feature
Familien Gyldenkål sprænger banken 1976 Direction, Croupier DK/Feature
Familien Gyldenkål 1975 Direction DK/Feature
Up and coming 1972 Tilskuer DK/Feature
With love 1971 Direction, Script, Production, Mr. X DK/Feature
Amour 1970 Direction, Script, Production DK/Feature
Pretty Playthings 1968 Direction, Script, Production DK/Feature
Boubouroche 1968 Direction, Script TV film
I klemme 1968 Direction TV film
Orange soufflé 1968 Direction TV film
The Red Mantle 1967 Direction, Script DK/Feature
I, a nobleman 1967 Marcel de Sade DK/Feature
Frieriet 1966 Direction TV film
Om tobakkens skadelige virkninger 1966 Direction TV film
Virtue runs wild 1966 Pastor Deje DK/Feature
Regnvejr og ingen penge 1965 Direction TV series
Retten på vrangen 1965 Direction TV film
En ven i bolignøden 1965 von Bengeldorff, embedsmand i udenrigsm. DK/Feature
Ægget 1964 Direction TV film
Dannevirkenatten 1964 Direction TV film
Pernilles korte frøkenstand 1964 Direction TV film
Paradise and back 1964 Direction DK/Feature
Three Girls in Paris 1963 Direction, Appearance DK/Feature
We''re doing alright 1963 Direction DK/Feature
Crazy Paradise 1962 Direction DK/Feature
Oskar 1962 Direction DK/Feature
Han, hun, Dirch og Dario 1962 Monsieur Baptiste DK/Feature
Dr. Belhommes pensionat 1961 Direction TV film
En dør må være åben eller lukket 1961 Direction TV film
Skærmydsler 1961 Direction TV film
Mester Pierre Pathelin 1961 Direction TV film
Peters baby 1961 Brigadier Lompard DK/Feature
Flemming og Kvik 1960 Direction, Script DK/Feature
Selskabsrejsen 1960 Direction TV film
Den evige ægtemand 1960 Direction TV film
Apollon fra Bellac 1960 Direction TV film
Selskabsrejsen 1960 Direction TV film
Ole Lukøje 1960 Direction TV film
Helle for Helene 1959 Direction DK/Feature
X-60 1959 Direction TV film
Money from the Sky 1958 Direction DK/Feature
Boubouroche 1958 Direction TV film
Møde ved midnat 1958 Direction TV film
Munken går i enge 1958 Direction TV film
Styrmand Karlsen 1958 Pierre DK/Feature
Det tvungne giftermål 1957 Direction TV film
De røde tjørne 1957 Direction TV film
Henrik og Pernille 1957 Direction TV film
A woman not wanted 1957 Direction DK/Feature
Det er så yndigt 1956 Direction TV film
En mindefest 1956 Direction TV film
Dronninger af Frankrig 1956 Direction TV film
Frøken Julie 1956 Direction TV film
Vand fra Eufrat 1956 Voiceover DK/Documentary
D for design 1956 Fr. version DK/Documentary
Kispus 1956 Skrædderen i ''Trold kan tæmmes'' DK/Feature
Nothing But Trouble 1955 Direction DK/Feature
Ole Lukøje 1955 Direction TV film
En skefuld katharsis 1955 Direction TV film
Marguerite 1955 Direction TV film
Motivet 1955 Direction TV film
En caprice 1955 Direction TV film
Scapins gavtyvestreger 1955 Direction TV film
En kvinde er overflødig 1955 Direction TV film
Der kom en dag 1955 Stenert DK/Feature
Bruden fra Dragstrup 1955 Taxachaufføren DK/Feature
Livet er skønt 1954 Direction TV film
Hvem ved? 1954 Direction TV film
Lapointe og Ropiteau 1954 Direction TV film
Tran 1954 Direction TV film
En svanesang 1954 Direction TV film
Li''som lidt ensom 1954 Direction TV film
Acharnerne 1954 Direction TV film
Coast of Jutland 1954 Fransk version DK/Documentary
Kongeligt besøg 1954 Den stumme DK/Feature
Jan går til filmen 1954 Filminstruktør DK/Feature
Det er så yndigt at følges ad 1954 Alfred, mand på stranden DK/Feature
Karen, Maren og Mette 1954 Ferdinandsen DK/Feature
Himlen er blå 1954 Appearance DK/Feature
En bjørn 1953 Direction TV film
Et spil 1953 Direction TV film
Hallo, derude 1953 Direction TV film
Falske nøgler 1953 Direction TV film
Kong Renés datter 1953 Direction TV film
Vi som går køkkenvejen 1953 Professoren DK/Feature
Aften 1952 Direction TV film
Pantalones bryllup 1952 Direction TV film
Forlovelse indgået 1952 Direction TV film
Skyggedans 1952 Direction TV film
Vi arme syndere 1952 Værtshusgæst DK/Feature
Døden 1951 Direction TV film