Wolfgang Petersen, director of Das Boot and Air Force One, dies aged 81 | Film

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The German film-maker Wolfgang Petersen has died at the age of 81.

The Oscar-nominated writer-director was known for films such as Das Boot, Air Force One and In the Line of Fire. He died of pancreatic cancer at home in the company of his wife, Maria Borgel Petersen. His death was confirmed by his representative.

After directing the thriller One of the Other of Us and queer drama Die Konsequenz, Petersen broke out with 1982’s Das Boot, a second world war drama about a German submarine. It was both a critical and commercial hit and was nominated for six Oscars, including best director and best adapted screenplay for Petersen.

“So many directors have their one film,” he said in a later interview. “It’s the one that changed everything for you and the one people will talk about forever. I am lucky enough that I have that film.”

It led to Petersen’s first English-language film, fantasy adventure The NeverEnding Story, which was an international hit and kicked off a string of Hollywood successes for Petersen.

Wolfgang Petersen and Clint Eastwood. Photograph: United Archives GmbH/Alamy

He teamed up with Clint Eastwood for the assassination thriller In the Line of Fire, which was nominated for three Oscars, before working with Dustin Hoffman in 1995’s disaster thriller Outbreak and Harrison Ford in 1997’s Air Force One.

The following years saw him direct the fact-based adventure The Perfect Storm, war epic Troy and disaster remake Poseidon. The latter was a critical and commercial misfire. “What I probably should not have done is the film Poseidon,” he said in a 2016 interview. “I was on a roll at that time … I shouldn’t have done it, because it just doesn’t work like that. At some point you fail.”

He then decided to take a 10-year hiatus before returning in 2016 with the German comedy Vier gegen die Bank.

Tribute was paid on Twitter by the Doctor Sleep and Midnight Mass director Mike Flanagan. “Very sad to hear Wolfgang Petersen passed away.” he tweeted. “I love DAS BOOT, IN THE LINE OF FIRE, THE PERFECT STORM, OUTBREAK… and I’ll always have a very special place in my heart for THE NEVERENDING STORY. Rest In Peace.”

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