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Wolfgang Petersen passes away at 81

2022 Aug 17, 10:27, Washington

Wolfgang Petersen, a German writer-director best known for the action blockbusters In the Line of Fire, Air Force One and The Perfect Storm, passed away at the age of 81.

Petersen died Friday at his Brentwood home of pancreatic cancer, publicist Michelle Bega of Rogers & Cowan PMK told The Hollywood Reporter.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Petersen will be regarded as one of the greatest craftsmen of cinema, a director who could handle high-budget productions while incorporating a human touch.

In light of the current coronavirus outbreak, the 1995 pandemic thriller Outbreak, starring Dustin Hoffman, gained new relevance.

Das Boot, starring Jurgen Prochnow as the captain of a doomed German submariner crew that is sent on a series of suicide missions in the closing stages of World War II, was nominated for six Oscars. Petersen won two of them for directing and for adapting Lothar-Gunther Buchheim's best-selling 1973 autobiographical novel.

The cinematography by Jost Vacano, which was claustrophobic, and the haunting score by Klaus Doldinger, which had never been used in a war movie before, were both revolutionary in terms of technique and thematic depth. According to Petersen, who spoke to THR in 2016, asking an international audience to "identify with Nazis in a submarine" was a big ask.

In America, Petersen was all about action. He made eight films in the U.S. and enjoyed a string of five straight box office hits: the political thriller In the Line of Fire (1993), starring Clint Eastwood as a Secret Service agent; Outbreak; Air Force One (1997), starring Harrison Ford as the U.S. president; The Perfect Storm (2000), with George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg as ill-fated seamen; and the epic Troy (2004), starring Brad Pitt as Achilles.

Petersen, who was born on March 14, 1941, in the northern German coastal town of Emden, grew up amidst the ruins of the Third Reich. Hollywood films, with their unmistakable good-vs.-evil plotlines, served as his moral compass and some of its leading characters as his role models.

Petersen produced work in a variety of genres, including comedies, science fiction, and even family movies. His first English-language films, The NeverEnding Story (1984) and the sci-fi thriller Enemy Mine (1985), were both produced at Germany's Bavaria Studios (1985). A major international hit with two sequels, the former was a reimagining of the fantasy classic by Michael Ende.

His most recent film, the 2016 German-language made-for-TV film Four vs. the Bank, was a remake of his own 1976 crime caper comedy.

Das Boot was first produced as a miniseries and a film for German television. Nine months after the events of Petersen's film, a sequel series was produced and released by Bavaria Fiction in 2018.

His wife Maria, with whom he had been married since 1978 and with whom he had spent 50 years together, as well as his son Daniel and his first wife Ursula, daughter-in-law Berit, and grandchildren Maja and Julien, survive him.


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