Wolfgang Petersen

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Wolfgang Petersen (born 14 March 1941) is a German film director. His films include The NeverEnding Story, Enemy Mine, Outbreak, In the Line of Fire, Air Force One, The Perfect Storm, Troy, and Poseidon. He was nominated for two Academy Awards for the 1981 World War II submarine warfare film Das Boot.


Early life

Petersen was born in Emden, Lower Saxony, Germany during World War II on 14 March 1941. Emden is a small north German community near the Dutch border, where the Ems River flows into the North Sea.[1] He stayed there to the end of World War II. From 1953 to 1960, Petersen attended the Gelehrtenschule des Johanneums in Hamburg. In the 1960s he was directing plays at Hamburg's Ernst Deutsch Theater. After studying theater in Berlin and Hamburg, Petersen attended the Film and Television Academy in Berlin (1966–1970). His first film productions were for German television, and it was during his work on the popular German Tatort (Crime Scene) TV series that he first met and worked with the actor Jürgen Prochnow — who would later appear as the U-boat captain in Petersen's famous Das Boot.

Film work

One of his first efforts was the 1977 Die Konsequenz, a b/w 16 mm adaptation of Alexander Ziegler's autobiographical novel of pederastic love, a movie considered "one of the best `70s gay dramas."[2] In its time, the film was considered so radical that when first broadcast in Germany, the Bavarian network turned off the transmitters rather than broadcast it. As the 1980s began, he made the jump to action films, which occaisionally featured straight heroes and a few who would ponder and dare fate itself.

His next feature was the World War II epic Das Boot, released in early 1982. The film chronicles the experiences of a German submarine crew engaged in the "Battle of the Atlantic". Though not a financial success, the film received positive reviews and was nominated for six Academy Awards, two of which (for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay) went to Petersen himself; he was also nominated for a BAFTA Award and DGA Award. The film also introduced Jurgen Prochnow as the U-boat Captain, who became a good example of Peterson's action characters, a man at war and who dares danger and fate at sea.

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