He had known success in 1981 thanks to his film The boat which received six Oscar nominations and opened the doors to Hollywood for her.

He loved blockbuster cinema, extreme situations in which he could easily observe human behavior in all its truth. German director Wolfgang Petersen, famous for films such The boat (The boat1981), The never-ending story, In the line of sight (with Clint Eastwood in 1993), Air Force One (with Harrison Ford, in 1997) or Troy (with Brad Pitt, in 2004), died on August 12, at the age of 81, at his home in Los Angeles, carried away by pancreatic cancer.

He was one of the most brilliant representatives of the “new German cinema”, this cinematographic movement born in West Germany in the 1960s and 1970s, which also included Wim Wenders, Volker Schlöndorff, Werner Herzog, Margarethe von Trotta , or Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

Born on March 14, 1941 in the port city of Emden in northern Germany in Lower Saxony, Wolfgang Petersen had been fascinated by the ocean since childhood. It was one of his favorite fields of cinematographic investigation. In this regard, he had declared to the Figaro in 2006 : “As a child, I spent long hours looking at the ocean. I dreamed of travel, of freedom. I was fascinated by its colors and terrified by its changing moods. His peaceful side could very quickly turn into a furious and devastating monster. Now I live in Brentwood, near Santa Monica, and I admire the Pacific from my window. »

It is with a maritime feature film that he really made himself known internationally. He was then 40 years old and already had a small career as a filmmaker in Germany. After directing a few television films and three films, notably The consequencefilmed biography of writer Alexander Ziegler (1977), he directed The boat, a strong work of more than three hours. Then considered the “most expensive film in the history of German cinema”, The boat recounts the wanderings of a German submarine and its crew during the Second World War. The action takes place almost entirely inside the submarine. Nominated six times for the Oscars, the feature film won that of the best foreign film and thus opened the doors of Hollywood to him.

In 1984, Petersen made his first film in English, The never-ending story, adaptation of a best-selling children’s literature telling the adventures of a dreamy boy who finds himself propelled into the heart of a magic book. The film is such a triumph that it will have two sequels.

Hollywood is now making eyes at him. The biggest stars want to shoot with him. In 1985, released Enemy (Enemy Mine), a science fiction film starring Dennis Quaid on the same screenplay model as Duel in the Pacific by John Borman. In 1993, Petersen made an excellent political thriller with Clint Eastwood and John Malkovich, In the line of sight, on an original soundtrack by Ennio Morricone. His other great thriller is titled Air Force One (1997), with Gary Oldman, Glenn Close and Harrison Ford as President of the United States taken hostage by a group of terrorists in the presidential plane. The film is a success and collected $315.2 million at the worldwide box office.

Disaster films attract Petersen. In 1995, he staged Alert !, with Dustin Hoffman, a visionary story about a deadly virus brought to California by a monkey imported from Zaire, which threatens the American continent. will follow In the middle of a storm (2000), with George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg, in which the German filmmaker reconnects with his passion for the raging ocean. And Poseidon (2006), classic bill remake of The Poseidon Adventure, by Ronald Neame. Meanwhile, he tries his hand at peplum with Troy (2004), starring young Brad Pitt.

His latest film, released in 2016, German robbery (Four Against the Bank) will also be a remake, but this time it’s a transposition of his own German TV movie released in 1976. It seems that for Petersen, the circle is complete. Because he had specially returned to Germany to make this nice little gangster film in the form of a bittersweet comedy.

By Editor

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