The eclectic director, Wolfgang Petersen has died at the age of 81. Petersen was one of those directors that could work on absolutely anything while also giving each of his films their very own personas built into the narratives. Petersen passed away Friday with his wife Maria Antoinette with him after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
The director was able to go from big epic fantasies like Neverending Story to Sci-fi stories – like Enemy Mine. The film starred Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr in a tale of family across species. A strange movie that was ahead of its time.
Petersen was also a master of suspense. The director worked on more than a few thrillers including Shattered, One or the Other and others. His work on big summer blockbusters were also everything you would want from a big beginning of Summer popcorn movies. Air Force One, Troy, Poseidon and The Perfect Storm.
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The director was a true old-school master of working with big stunt teams and practical effects works. However later, in his career, he was able to seamlessly combine his big practical works with CG work. The finale of The Perfect Storm is a great example of those particular meldings.
Petersen’s Das Boot put him on the map with its incredible true-to-life feel of being aboard a claustrophobic inducing U-boat and all the stressors that came with it.
Perhaps above all his films, Petersen always held onto the fact that one of his favorite experiences in his career was working with Clint Eastwood on In the Line of Fire. Previously, his favorite experience had been working on Das Boot. Petersen’s Das Boot was nominated for six Academy Awards. The film’s real-life feel of being aboard a U-boat with a crew during World War II, was absorbing and masterfully crafted.
According to Variety Petersen is survived by his second wife Maria-Antoinette Borgel, a German script supervisor and assistant director whom he married in 1978, and a son by Sieg, writer-director Daniel Petersen.