(CTN News) – German filmmaker Wolfgang Petersen, whose blockbuster Hollywood career included “In the Line of Fire,” “Air Force One” and “The Perfect Storm,” has died. He was 84 years old. Age 81 was the age of his death.
His fight with pancreatic cancer ended Friday at his home in Brentwood, Los Angeles, according to representative Michelle Bega.
A native of Emden, Petersen made two films before his breakthrough in 1982, “Das Boot,” then the most expensive film in German history. It chronicles the intense claustrophobia of life aboard a doomed German submarine during the Battle of the Atlantic, with Jürgen Prochnow
as its commander.
Touted as an antiwar masterpiece, Petersen’s adaptation of Lothar-Günther Buchheim’s best-selling 1973 novel “Das Boot” was nominated for six Oscars.
Born in 1941, Wolfgang Petersen recalled running alongside American ships dropping food as a child. Petersen – who began his career in theater before attending Berlin’s Film and Television Academy in the late 1960s – gravitated toward Hollywood films with a clear clash of evil and righteousness. There was a great deal of influence from John Ford.
In 1993, Petersen told The Los Angeles Times that students did not discuss Hitler’s era in school, instead focusing on rebuilding Germany.
When American pop culture arrived in Germany, we were ready for it since we were looking for more glamorous dreams than rebuilding a destroyed country. We all loved American movies, and by the time I was 11 I’d decided I wanted to be a filmmaker.”
“Das Boot” launched Petersen as a filmmaker in Hollywood, where he became one of the top directors of cataclysmic action adventures in films spanning war (2004′s “Troy,” with Brad Pitt).
In pandemic (the 1995 ebolavirus-inspired “Outbreak”) and other ocean-set disasters (the 2000′s “The Perfect Storm” and the 2006′s “Poseidon,” a remake of “The Poseidon Adventure,” about the capsizing of an ocean liner
Wolfgang Petersen Performance
In 1984, Petersen made an enchanting child fantasy film called “The Never-Ending Story,” adapted from Michael Ende’s novel. In “The Never-ending Story,” a magical book transports its young reader into Fantasia, where a dark force referred to as the Nothing rampages.
Petersen’s finest Hollywood film came almost a decade later with “In the Line of Fire,” starring Clint Eastwood as a Secret Service agent protecting the president from John Malkovich’s assassin.
In this thriller, Petersen marshalled his considerable suspense-building skills for an open-air thriller that careened across rooftops and passed Washington landmarks.
After chatting with Wolfgang Petersen at a dinner party hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger a few years earlier, Eastwood considered him for the film’s director.
Wolfgang Petersen was hired after Eastwood reviewed his work. Three Oscar nominations were awarded to “In the Line of Fire,” which grossed $177 million worldwide.
There are sometimes seven-year cycles. When you look at other directors, they don’t always have huge successes. According to Wolfgang Petersen, his career was a series of successes up until the release of “Never-ending Story.”
“Then I came into the stormy international scene. I needed time to get a feeling for this work — it’s not Germany anymore.”
In Wolfgang Petersen estimation, the political thriller – which starred Eastwood as a tired but devoted defender of a less honorable president – was a criticism of Washington.
I think John’s character’s words, ‘Nothing they told me was true, and there’s nothing left worth fighting for,’ will resonate with many people, Petersen told The Los Angeles Times. This film is deeply pessimistic about what has happened to this country over the past 30 years.