Read a novel that changes your life, inspire the greatest Hollywood filmmakers.
That’s what happened to French director and novelist Pierre Schoendoerffer, who died yesterday at his home in France. In 1942 he read Joseph Kessel’s Fortune Carrée and set out on a new course.
In an interview he said, “I wanted to become a sailor, travel the world and verify that the earth was round.” Beyond the wonders of discovery lied the need for expressing what he saw: filmmaking came naturally.
He would enlist in the Indochina War so that he could make movies.
As army video recordist he took in the horrors of war, wrote novels and made films about his experiences, winning multiple awards along the way.
In 1967, his documentary The Anderson Platoon won an Oscar and an Emmy Award (the documentary had originally been made for French television) and several others. He is especially known for his film Iceland Fisherman (1959) and the Drummer Crab (1977).
In 1992 he would film a reenactement of the Indochina War with 1992’s Diên Biên Phu.
Schoendoerffer, whose war movies have inspired directors like Oliver Stone and, indirectly Francis Ford Coppola, was making movies as recently as 2004.
He was 84.
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Here’s his Oscar-winning documentary The Anderson Platoon: