Gabriel Axel, director of Babette's Feast
Conversation with Danish director Gabriel Axel, who came to Cannes to present Babette's Feast in the context of Un Certain Regard.
For many of the world's film enthusiasts, Denmark's Gabriel Axel will forever be remembered, beyond anything else, for the remarkable film Babette's Feast, released in 1987. Inspired by a short story by Karen Blixen, the story of Babette, who is played by Stéphane Audran, plays on the contrast between the austerity of a Lutheran community from Jütland and the warmth of a dinner prepared by an exiled French woman who fled the Commune's repression and who sacrificed her sudden fortune to pay for the feast.
A huge success, with an Oscar for the best foreign film in 1988, the movie must not overshadow the rest of Axel's career. Born in 1918, the director started out in France as a theatre actor in Jouvet's troupe before starting to direct films for television, in 1951, including a memorable adaptation of Jean Carmet's Curé de Tours in 1980, in France also. His big screen work is just as sizeable, even though it was too rarely exported outside of Denmark's borders. La Mante Rouge (1968), Christian (1989) and Leïla (2001), amongst many other films, are proof of his vitality.