Lifestyle

Danish film director Gabriel Axel dies at 95

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Gabriel Axel, the first Dane to win an Oscar for best foreign film with "Babette's Feast" which he directed, has died at the age of 95.

His daughter Karin Moerch said in a statement that he died Sunday "quietly and peacefully after a long and eventful life." She did not say where he died or give the cause of death. Born April 18, 1918, in Denmark's second city Aarhus, Axel divided his time between his homeland and France. He grew up in Paris where his father owned a factory and at age 18 he returned to Denmark to work as a carpenter making furniture.

But the theater drew him, and he enrolled in the Danish Royal Theater Actors' School, graduating in 1945. Axel was born Gabriel Axel Moerch but he dropped his last name when he joined the theater troupe of French film and stage artist Louis Jouvet in Paris. Axel directed several large projects for French television, then returned to Denmark to produce series for Denmark's public broadcaster and direct several films in the 1950s and 1960s. He also acted in films.

His international breakthrough came in 1987 with "Babette's Feast," based on a novel by Danish writer Karen Blixen. The movie is about a 19th century Parisian woman, played by French actress Stephan Audran, who finds shelter in a remote, puritanical Danish village, living with two sisters who maintain a strict religious philosophy.

Axel's works include "Prince of Jutland," a 1994 film that tells the story of Amled, the Danish prince whose life inspired Shakespeare's "Hamlet." In 2003, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Copenhagen International Film Festival.

Axel's wife of nearly 50 years, Lucie Axel Moerch, died in 1996. He is survived by their four children and eight grandchildren. Funeral arrangements were not announced.

Related Headlines

  • Lupita Nyong'o and Jared Leto rock Prada's show

    Upstaging a Louis Vuitton show is hard, but somehow Miuccia Prada managed it, thanks to Lupita Nyong'o and Jared Leto. The Oscar winning pair — whose exact relationship is the ... 

  • Hollywood movie star sisters' 90-year feud ends

    Joan Fontaine's 1942 Oscar was so much more than a trophy. Competing head-to-head with her older, more famous sister — "Gone With the Wind" star Olivia de Havilland — it ... 

  • Oldest-known Holocaust survivor dies at 110

    Alice Herz-Sommer, believed to be the oldest Holocaust survivor, died at age 110 on Sunday, a family member said. The accomplished pianist's death came just a week before her ... 

  • Thomas Vinterberg

    Danes hoping for 4th Oscar with The Hunt

    When Danish director Thomas Vinterberg wrote the script for "The Hunt" — one of this year's contenders for Best Foreign Language Film — he pictured a young Robert de Niro as ...