Entertainment & Arts

Film director Pierre Schoendoerffer dies aged 83

Pierre Schoendoerffer
Image caption The director worked as a war photographer and journalist

Oscar-winning French documentary-maker and journalist Pierre Schoendoerffer has died at the age of 83, the French military health service has confirmed.

Following military service, he volunteered to became a photographer during the first Indochina war, eventually becoming a war reporter.

His 1967 film The Anderson Platoon was presented with the Academy Award for documentary feature.

Paying tribute, President Nicolas Sarkozy said: "France will miss him."

Le Figaro newspaper said Schoendoerffer died in a hospital outside Paris on Wednesday after an operation.

Born in Born in central France in 1928, Schoendoerffer spent some time at sea before joining the army for national service in 1949.

During the 1950s, he volunteered to parachute into the besieged fortress of Dien Bien Phu to document the decisive battle of the French war in Indochina - which is now part of Vietnam.

After the battle, he was captured and spent four months as a Prisoner Of War.

Schoendoerffer first gained fame as a director for his 1965 film The 317th Platoon, which traced of a doomed group of French soldiers retreating through the jungles ahead of the final rebel offensive in 1954.

It won best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival, where critics praised it as being among the best Vietnam War films ever made.

His Oscar-winning Anderson Platoon also won an Emmy award in 1967.

Schoendoerffer also made his mark as a screenwriter with his 1975 film Drummer Crab - which won three Cesar awards in France, including best actor for Jean Rochefort.

President Sarkozy, in a statement praised the "legendary filmmaker and novelist" for risking his life for France and "helping us better understand our collective history."