German film director Wolfgang Petersen has succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 81, his representative revealed on Tuesday. The renowned filmmaker passed away at his home in California.
Having studied theater in Hamburg, Petersen moved to Berlin, where he forged a career as a TV director, working on several episodes of the German crime series ‘Tatort’, before going on to direct several feature films from 1974 onwards.
However, it was in 1982 that Petersen rose to international fame with his WWII drama ‘Das Boot’, telling the story of a Nazi German submarine during the Battle of the Atlantic. The movie garnered six Oscar nominations, including best director and best adapted screenplay. In 1984, Petersen directed his first English-language work, fantasy movie ‘The NeverEnding Story’.
In the late 1980s, the director relocated to the US, where he went on to release a whole host of commercially successful action films. Among his Hollywood hits were ‘Outbreak’ with Dustin Hoffman (1995), ‘Air Force One’ with Harrison Ford (1997), ‘The Perfect Storm’ with George Clooney (2000) and ‘Troy’ starring Brad Pitt (2004).
His biggest box office flop was action-adventure disaster movie Poseidon’ (2006), a remake of a 1970s feature. Petersen later acknowledged that he “shouldn’t have done it, because it just doesn’t work like that. At some point you fail.”
Petersen took a decade off directing, returning in 2016 with the heist comedy ‘Vier gegen die Bank,’ his first German-language feature since ‘Das Boot’ and the last one he would ever make.