Wolfgang Petersen was found dead in his home in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles

after a fight with pancreatic cancer, according to a representative from Michelle Bega

Petersen, a native of the northern German port city of Emden, created two major motion pictures before his 1982 mainstream hit

Das Boot, and then the most expensive film in German film history

Petersen, born in 1941, raced along the American ship as it tossed down food in the chaos of postwar Germany

His father introduced him to acting when he was young, and he attended in the theater school in Berlin prior to the late 1960

In school we never considered time during World War II — we only blocked it out of our minds in order to reconstruct Germany

We were only excited to have our hearts destroyed instead of reconstructing a destroyed nation though

so as soon as the new postwar culture hit Germany, we were seriously drawn to it