“Das Boot” director Wolfgang Petersen: Germany’s greatest filmmaker is dead entertainment


“Das Boot” director Wolfgang Petersen (81) |

Germany’s greatest filmmaker is dead

Wolfgang Petersen died of pancreatic cancer on Friday at the age of 81!

This was confirmed by the assistant to the star director of the DPA. Petersen became world famous with “Das Boot” and became the largest filmmaker in Germany.

According to the industry portal “Deadline”, Petersen died at his home in Los Angeles – in the arms of his wife Maria Antoinette, to whom he was married for 50 years.

Born in East Frisia (1941 in Emden), he learned his craft at the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin. In 1971, he was immediately successful with the “Tatort” thriller “Blechschaden”. The episode “Maturity Certificate” with Nastassja Kinski made him and the very young actress famous overnight. Petersen became a taboo breaker in 1977 with the film “The Consequence”, which is about homosexual love. In 1981 he made the leap to Hollywood. His ticket: the World War II drama “Das Boot”.

With “Das Boot” Wolfgang Petersen impressively showed the oppressive narrowness and the horror of the submarine war

Photo: imago/Prod.DB

In the two and a half hour cinema epic, the viewers suffer the horrors of the German submarine war together with the crew of the U 96 (star cast with Martin Semmelrogge, Herbert Grönemeyer, Jan Fedder and Jürgen Prochnow). The Höllenritt fascinated more than five million viewers in Germany alone. At the Oscars, the drama was honored with six nominations – two of which went to Petersen himself. “Das Boot” is still one of the most successful German films abroad.

Only three years later, Petersen presented the next classic with “The Neverending Story” and even trumped his success with “Das Boot”. The fantasy story based on the young adult book by Michael Ende (1929-1995) grossed around 20 million dollars.

Wolfgang Petersen with his wife Maria Antoinette.  The couple was married for 50 years

Wolfgang Petersen with his wife Maria Antoinette. The couple was married for 50 years

Photo: Felix Hörhager/dpa

In 1987 Wolfgang Petersen moved to Hollywood with his Maria and quickly became one of the most sought-after directors in the city. He directed successful films such as “Outbreakt”, “Der Sturm” or “Air Force One”.

One of Petersen’s last big hits was Troy. In the lavish historical epic from 2004, he gathered the first ranks of Hollywood: Brad Pitt (58), Orlando Bloom (45), Peter O’Toole († 81), Eric Bana (54), Sean Bean (63). Diane Kruger (46) celebrated her international breakthrough as Helena.

Petersen returned to his homeland in 2016 for a remake of his old 1970s TV comedy Four Against the Bank. The crook film was prominently cast with Til Schweiger, Matthias Schweighöfer, Jan Josef Liefers and Michael “Bully” Herbig.

In 2021, in the middle of the Corona pandemic, Petersen was planning another directing project in Germany – a love story about a KGB agent and a young East German, based on a true story, shortly before the Wall was built. But that shouldn’t happen anymore. The pandemic had forced the director to take a longer break. At the age of 80 he lamented about it and hoped to return to everyday work soon. “You have to go out again. For me, life has always been a journey through the world, with always new people and teams.”

In addition to his wife Marie Antoinette, Wolfgang Petersen leaves behind a son and two grandchildren. The funeral service will be held privately.