Wolfgang Petersen

Wolfgang Petersen (born 14 March 1941) is a German film director, film producer and screenwriter. He was nominated for two Academy Awards for the World War II submarine warfare film Das Boot (1981). His other films include The NeverEnding Story (1984), Enemy Mine (1985), In the Line of Fire (1993), Outbreak (1995), Air Force One (1997), The Perfect Storm (2000), Troy (2004), and Poseidon (2006).

Wolfgang Petersen
Petersen, during the filming of Air Force One in 1996.
Born (1941-03-14) 14 March 1941
  • Film director
  • film producer
  • screenwriter
Years active1965present
Spouse(s)Ursula Sieg
(m. 1970; div. 1978)
Maria Borgel-Petersen
(m. 1978)

Early life

Petersen was born on 14 March 1941 in Emden, Germany. 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 (19661970). 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.


Petersen made his first theatrical feature film in 1974, the psychological thriller One or the Other of Us, based on the novel Einer von uns beiden by Horst Bosetzky and published anonymously under his pseudonym and starring Jürgen Prochnow. He next directed the 1977 film Die Konsequenz, a b/w 16 mm adaptation of Alexander Ziegler's autobiographical novel of homosexual love. 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.

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 an immediate financial success, the film received highly positive reviews and was nominated for six Academy Awards, two of which (for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay) went to Petersen; he was also nominated for a BAFTA Award and DGA Award. The film starred Jürgen Prochnow as the U-boat Captain, who became a good example of Petersen's action characters, a man at war and who dares danger and fate at sea.

After The NeverEnding Story (1984), Petersen's first English-language film, he directed Enemy Mine (1985), which was not a critical nor box office success. He hit his stride in 1993 with the assassination thriller In the Line of Fire. Starring Clint Eastwood as an angst-ridden presidential Secret Service guard, In the Line of Fire gave Petersen the box office clout he needed to direct another suspense thriller, Outbreak (1995), starring Dustin Hoffman. The 1997 Petersen blockbuster Air Force One did very well at the box office, with generally positive critical reviews from movie critics. For both Air Force One and Outbreak, Petersen teamed up with the German cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, who has also worked frequently with director Martin Scorsese.

By 1998, Petersen was an established Hollywood director, with the power to both re-release his classic Das Boot in a new director's cut and to helm star-studded action-thrillers. As such, he was originally considered for the first movie in the Harry Potter film series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Petersen pulled out of the running in March 2000.[1]

Petersen's $160 million epic film Poseidon, a re-telling of the 1969 Paul Gallico novel The Poseidon Adventure (previously adapted for the 1972 disaster film), was released by Warner Bros. in May 2006. The film performed poorly in the US, barely cracking $60 million in domestic box office receipts by early August, although international sales surpassed $121 million.

Although hired to direct the film adaptation of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card that was scheduled for release in 2008, he later "moved on"[2] from the project. His potential projects include a live-action adaptation of the 2006 anime film Paprika[3] and a film adaptation of the science fiction novel Old Man's War.[4]

After a ten-year-hiatus, Petersen returned in 2016 as director of the heist comedy Vier gegen die Bank, his first German-language film since Das Boot in 1981.[5]


Year Film Director Producer Writer
1965 Stadt auf Stelzen Yes
1974 Der Eine, der Andere Yes Yes
1968 Die rote Fahne Yes
1969 Ich nicht Yes Yes
1971 Ich werde dich töten, Wolf Yes Yes
1972 Anna und Totò Yes
1973 Smog Yes
1973 Van der Valk und die Reichen Yes
1974 One or the Other of Us Yes
1974 Aufs Kreuz gelegt Yes
1975 Die Stadt im Tal Yes
1975 Stellenweise Glatteis Yes
1976 Hans im Glück Yes
1976 Vier gegen die Bank Yes
1977 Planübung Yes Yes
1977 Die Konsequenz Yes Yes
1978 Schwarz und weiß wie Tage und Nächte Yes
1981 Das Boot Yes Yes
1984 The NeverEnding Story Yes Yes
1985 Enemy Mine Yes
1991 Shattered Yes Yes Yes
1993 In the Line of Fire Yes
1995 Outbreak Yes Yes
1997 Air Force One Yes Yes
2000 The Perfect Storm Yes
2004 Troy Yes Yes
2006 Poseidon Yes Yes
2016 Vier gegen die Bank Yes Yes


  1. Linder, Brian (7 March 2000). "Two Potential "Harry Potter" Director's Back Out". IGN. Archived from the original on 2 March 2008. Retrieved 8 July 2007.
  2. io9 website article (4/18/08), accessed June 20, 2008
  3. "Wolfgang Peterson Talks About His Live-Action Adaptation of Paprika". /Film.
  4. Old Man's War on IMDb
  5. Vier gegen die Bank on IMDb
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.