Wolfgang Petersen, blockbuster filmmaker of ‘Das Boot,’ dies
Wolfgang Petersen, the German filmmaker whose World War II submarine epic propelled him to a blockbuster Hollywood career that included “In the Line of Fire,” “Air Force One” and “The Perfect Storm,” has died. He was 81 years old.
Petersen died Friday at his home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles after a battle with pancreatic cancer, said agent Michelle Bega.
Born in Emden, Germany, Petersen made two films before his 1982 breakthrough, Das Boot. Then the most expensive film in the history of German cinema, the 149-minute “Das Boot” (the original cut was 210 minutes) dealt with the intense claustrophobia of life on a doomed German U-boat during the Battle of the Atlantic, starring U-boat commander Jürgen Prochno, who is a masterpiece. Declared anti-war, “Das Boot” was nominated for six Academy Awards, including for Petersen’s direction and his adaptation of Lothar-Gunter Boeckheim’s best-selling 1973 novel.
For Petersen, who grew up on the northern coast of Germany, the sea has long held a fascination for him. He returned to it in the 2000 disaster film The Perfect Storm, a true story about a fishing boat lost at sea.
“The power of water is incredible,” Petersen said in a 2009 interview. I was always impressed as a kid by how strong it was, all the damage water could do when it rolled around and hit water in a matter of hours. the coast.”
“Das Boot” launched Petersen as a filmmaker in Hollywood, where he became one of the top creators of epic disaster action-adventures that included war (2004’s Troy, with Brad Pitt), pandemic (the Ebola-inspired outbreak of 1995) and other ocean disasters (“Poseidon” in 2006, about the capsize of an ocean liner).
Petersen is survived by his second wife, Maria Antoinette Borgel, a German script supervisor and assistant director whom he married in 1978, his son Daniel Petersen, and two grandchildren.