NeverEnding Story, The (1984)

NeverEnding Story, The (1984)

“Don’t you know anything about Fantasia? It’s the world of human fantasy. Every part, every creature of it, is a piece of the dreams and hopes of mankind.”

When a lonely boy (Barrett Oliver) discovers a fantasy book called The NeverEnding Story, he’s transported to the world of Fantasia, where a young warrior named Atreyu (Noah Hathaway) has been sent on a mission to save the kingdom’s dying empress (Tami Stronach). Soon Bastian (Oliver) learns that his participation as a reader will play an essential part in the story’s outcome, and that he must have faith in the power of his wishes.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Fantasy

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this “flawed” adaptation of Michael Ende’s popular young adult novel — which received mixed reviews upon its release — is both “imaginative” and “visually spectacular”, and contains a positive message for kids about the importance of hopes and dreams. Barrett Oliver is sympathetic and believable as a young boy devastated by the recent loss of his mother and bullied mercilessly by his classmates, who finds refuge in books and fantasy; less remarkable is Noah Hathaway as Oliver’s doppelganger warrior, who comes across as appropriately handsome and plucky yet ultimately two-dimensional. More important than the performances, however, are the film’s stunning special effects, which effectively transport viewers into a new and exciting universe: while I’m less than thrilled by the rather insipid, puppet-like dragon Atreyu rides through the skies of Fantasia, other creatures — particularly the massive Rock Biter — are truly breathtaking. The dramatic ending (clearly paving the way for a sequel) is both exciting and heartwarming.

Note: Because the film contains a number of “difficult” scenes — including Atreyu’s beloved horse dying in a Swamp of Sadness, and Atreyu being persistently pursued by a vicious werewolf — The NeverEnding Story seems most appropriate for adolescents and adults rather than young, impressionable children.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Barrett Oliver as Bastian
  • Impressive animation — particularly the gigantic “Rock Biter”
  • Many exciting sequences
  • The heartwarming ending

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended.


One thought on “NeverEnding Story, The (1984)

  1. Not must-see, and rather in agreement with the assessment.

    Having rewatched it, I realize this isn’t a film I’m all that fond of. I haven’t read the source material but it’s a film that *feels* like there’s a lot missing that was in the book. I find the film… ponderous… overall, as opposed to compelling. Perhaps the most compelling element of the film (as opposed to the book, since I haven’t read it) is the idea of The Nothing. That’s a terrifying concept and it could represent everything from human stupidity (or white supremacy) to the [R] Party to COVID-19.

    For me personally, the story projects the desire – on the part of the original author – to encourage young people to discover the power of reading… as the means to ‘finding their dreams’. ~ which, to me, is admirable and certainly no small thing (considering people seem to read less and less – outside of what they absolutely have to – as the years go by).

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