Obituary: Palle Kjærulff-Schmidt

Danish director Palle Kjærulff-Schmidt has passed away after a short illness. He was 86 years old.

Having grown up in an artistic family as the son of actors Helge Kjærulff-Schmidt (The Olsen Gang) and Inga Thessen, Palle Kjærulff-Schmidt made his debut as a director at the Nørrebro Theater in 1953 when he was just 22 years of age.

Soon he was ready to direct his first feature film, Sin Alley (Bundfald), which won the Bodil Award for Best Film in 1958. But his breakthrough came with Weekend in 1962, written by Klaus Rifbjerg, which was inspired by the New Wave of French cinema and earned him a second Bodil for Best Film.

Throughout the 1960s Kjærulff-Schmidt’s work became part of the fabric of the New Wave cultural movement and is said to have shaped, if not transformed, Danish cinema with films such as To, 4×4 (Nordisk kvadrille), and The Story Of Barbara (Historien om Barbara).

However, perhaps his most notable work was the 1966 film Once There Was a War (Der var engang en krig), written by Klaus Rifbjerg, about a young boy who becomes a man during World War II. It was selected as Denmark’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 40th Academy Awards, but was not shortlisted as a final nominee.