‘Air Force One,’ ‘Das Boot’ director Wolfgang Petersen dies at 81 | Entertainment

Oscar-winning director Wolfgang Petersen, known for films including “Das Boot,” “Air Force One” and “The Perfect Storm,” has died at 81.

Petersen died Friday in Los Angeles, a representative said. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The German-born Petersen was nominated for Oscars for best adapted screenplay and best director for 1981′s “Das Boot,” a World War II submarine drama. He made his English-language debut with the children’s film “The NeverEnding Story” in 1984.

He went on to direct a number of major blockbusters in Hollywood, including “In The Line of Fire” with Clint Eastwood and John Malkovich, “The Perfect Storm” with George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg, “Outbreak” with Dustin Hoffman and Morgan Freeman, “Troy” with Brad Pitt and “Air Force One” with Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman.

Petersen was born March 14, 1941, in Emden, Germany. He became enamored with American movies in the 1950s.

“All these American films came to Germany after the war, and I was mesmerized by American film,” he told German outlet DW in 2016.

“In these films, there was clarity — especially in Westerns — about what is good and what is bad and about what you have to fight against and why. Clarity is important for a boy, and it was missing from the world around us.”

“I knew my teachers at school had been Nazis, I couldn’t look up to them. But I could look up to Gary Cooper,” he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2011. “I think ‘High Noon’ made me want to be a director.”

He soon started making short films of his own before graduating to TV shows and specials. In 1974, he directed his first film “One or the Other” which he followed up with “The Consequence” in 1977. Both starred future “Das Boot” lead Jurgen Prochnow.

However, Petersen himself felt he would always be defined by the anti-war classic “Das Boot,” something he did not shy away from but embraced.

“So many directors have their one film. It’s the one that changed everything for you and the one people will talk about forever. I am lucky enough that I have that film,” he told DW.

“You really felt that war is hell — especially submarine warfare, where they felt like sardines. The claustrophobia in the film was there.”

Petersen died at his home with Maria-Antoinette Borgel, his wife since 1978 and partner for 50 years, by his side, according to Deadline.


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