The US Air Force has boats

Wolfgang Petersen: An East Frisian in Hollywood

Status: 04/16/2021 10:25 a.m.

With "Das Boot" director Wolfgang Petersen made the leap to Hollywood in the 1980s. Born in Emder, he continues to work on film projects even in old age.

He made it in Hollywood - this sentence cannot be said about many Germans. In the case of Wolfgang Petersen, it applies completely. Whether Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood, Brad Pitt or George Clooney: They have all followed the directions from the native East Frisian - and Dustin Hoffman thinks Petersen is one of the greats: "What makes Wolfgang unique is his ability, even on the big screen Not to forget the little moments. He's holding a magnifying glass, so to speak, on an actor. "

However, Wolfgang Petersen gave his first stage directions at the Ernst-Deutsch-Theater (then still a young theater), where he directed children's productions at the age of 20. In the 1970s, the director made a name for himself with sensitive television films - such as the NDR crime scene classic "Reifezeugnis" with Nastassja Kinski. The gay love story "Die Konsequenz" seemed so explosive to Bavarian Broadcasting in 1977 that the station dropped out of the television broadcast.

"Das Boot" received six Oscar nominations

"Das Boot" also brought actors like Jürgen Prochnow (left) international recognition.

Petersen achieved his international breakthrough in 1981 with "Das Boot". There, too, he tells a great story in small detail. He lets the crew of a German submarine relive the horror of the Second World War - with the figures, the camera moves through the narrow corridors, from which there is no escape in case of doubt. There are six Oscar nominations for it, which is still a record for a German production. Even if the film comes out empty-handed in the end, it enables Petersen to make the leap to Hollywood. With 260 days of shooting and a budget of 25 million marks, "Das Boot" fits in better with America than with the German film landscape. To this day, no German production is more expensive.

"Troja", "Outbreak" and "Air Force One": Petersen directs large productions

Wolfgang Petersen's film epic "Troy" with Diane Kruger cost 175 million dollars.

After the film "Das Boot", which is also running successfully in the USA, the doors are open to Wolfgang Petersen in Hollywood. In the 1990s he delivered three box office hits: "In the Line of Fire" with Clint Eastwood, "Outbreak" with Dustin Hoffman and "Air Force One", in which Harrison Ford, as US President, almost single-handedly recaptured the hijacked presidential machine . With "Troja", Wolfgang Petersen realized another major film project with Brad Pitt and Diane Kruger in the mid-2000s.

After the film "Poseidon" flopped, things grew quieter around Wolfgang Petersen. In 2010 he was one of the first to receive a star on the Boulevard der Stars in Berlin at the Berlinale. With "Vier gegen die Bank", the Hollywood man produced another film in Germany in 2016. For Wolfgang Petersen, several circles close at once, because the crook comedy with Til Schweiger, Jan Josef Liefers, Alexandra Maria Lara and Matthias Schweighöfer is based on one of his German television films from the 1970s.

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NDR culture | Classic Boulevard | 03/14/2021 | 2:40 pm