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The Neverending Story

The NeverEnding Story

Untruth in Advertising?

I must admit, I was shocked and appalled when I saw the end credits to this film and realized that it does, in fact, have an end. It could have been that same experience at a young age that traumatized me for life.

Now, with the overused jokes aside, I must say that The NeverEnding Story is perhaps the perfect family film. It's about a young boy named Bastian (Barret Oliver), who is a "weirdo" as classified by his schoolmates. He's constantly harassed by the bullies at school, and on one particular occasion, hides from them in a used book store.

After convincing the kid-hating owner that he's a book lover himself, the bitter old man tells him about the book he's currently reading. It's a dangerous book, one that sucks you right into the story. Being a curious young lad, Bastian decides to "borrow" the book and read it for himself.

Once Bastian starts reading the book, it turns into something straight out of Jim Henson's mind, without Jim Henson. It features countless puppets and odd creatures, which all look like something out of a child's imagination. There are gnomes, luck dragons, rock biters, giant turtles, sphinxes, racing snails, and even "stupid bats."

It seems that Fantasia (the land in the book) is being destroyed by the evil "Nothing." The Empress and her people seek out a warrior named Atreyu, a young boy, and the only one who can save them. Atreyu goes on a quest to find a cure for the Empress's illness, which in turn should be able to save Fantasia.

The NeverEnding Story is a nice little fantasy, and one of those guilty pleasures from the 1980s (along with such "classics" as The Goonies and Gremlins). It features countless strange and bizarre creatures, a very fantasy-ish storyline, and top notch (for the time) special effects.

This is director Wolfgang Petersen's first English language film, for which he also co-wrote the screenplay. He does a good job of creating a unique world full of imagination. The acting is all good, considering the main characters are children who undoubtedly haven't had much acting experience.

Basically, this is the kind of movie that is entertaining for people of all ages. Of course it looks dated now, but if you can accept it for what it is, it's definitely a lot of fun. I hadn't seen the movie in probably 15 years, but still enjoyed it just as much as I did back then. Plus, at only 92 minutes, it's tolerable for even the most attention-deficient children.

Considering the movie was made in 1984, the picture is phenomenal. It's presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and it looks excellent. The sound, unfortunately, isn't quite as good. You can't really complain though, for such an old film, and the 2.0 surround definitely doesn't sound bad; just not as good as it could (or should) be.

The only extras included are some notes and trivia on the book and its characters, and the original theatrical trailer. The trailer for this movie is perfect for promoting the film: it shows all the fantasy elements of the story, without revealing too much of the plot. It still would have been nice to see some "making-of" stuff though. I think it would have been very interesting for this movie. Oh well.

The NeverEnding Story, from Warner Home Video
92 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) 16X9 enhanced, 2.0 surround
Starring Noah Hathaway, Barret Oliver, Tami Stronach, Patricia Hayes and Sydney Bromley
Produced by Bernd Eichinger and Dieter Geissler
Screenplay by Wolfgang Petersen and Herman Weigel
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen.


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Updated May 13, 2006