The Neverending Story (1984)

THE NEVERENDING STORY (1984)
aka Die unendliche Geschichte
Article 4471 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-11-2014
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen
Featuring Noah Hathaway, Barret Oliver, Tami Stronach
Country: West Germany / USA
What it is: High fantasy

A young boy leading a troubled life manages to get a book that he is told is too dangerous for him to read. He reads it and finds himself immersed in a quest to save the land of Fantasia from being consumed by nothingness, but he soon discovers that he has more invested in the story than he thinks…

I’ve not read the book on which this movie was based, but I do know that the movie only covers about half of the book, and that author Michael Ende was not happy with this adaptation of his work. Even without being familiar with the book itself, I do sense that there is something a bit incomplete about the movie, and there are some scenes that seem too pat (in particular, a revenge scene involving three bullies) while others seem anti-climatic. Still, there’s enough here to make me look forward to reading the novel someday, and there are some moments that I like very much indeed. This was apparently the most expensive movie made in West Germany at that time, and though the special effects aren’t always convincing, they are fun and atmospheric. My favorite scene is the saddest in the movie; it’s the scene where the Rock Biter talks about his hands. In a sense, it feels somewhat like a children’s version of the Thomas Covenant novels by Stephen R. Donaldson. I don’t quite rate it with the best fantasy movies I’ve seen, but I do think it is very good.

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