The NeverEnding Story (film)

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The NeverEnding Story
Neverendingstoryposter.jpg
American release poster
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen
Produced by Bernd Eichinger
Dieter Geissler
Screenplay by Wolfgang Petersen
Herman Weigel
Based on The Neverending Story 
by Michael Ende
Starring Noah Hathaway
Barret Oliver
Tami Stronach
Moses Gunn
Thomas Hill
Alan Oppenheimer
Narrated by Alan Oppenheimer
Music by Klaus Doldinger
Cinematography Jost Vacano
Edited by Jane Seitz
Distributed by Neue Constantin Film (West Germany)
Warner Bros. Pictures (United States)
Release date(s)
  • 6 April 1984 (1984-04-06) (West Germany)
Running time 107 minutes
Country West Germany
Language English
Budget DM 60 million (~$27 million)
Box office $100,000,000

The NeverEnding Story (German: Die unendliche Geschichte) is a 1984 West German epic fantasy film based on the novel of the same name written by Michael Ende. The film was directed and co-written by Wolfgang Petersen (his first English-language film) and starred Barret Oliver, Noah Hathaway, Tami Stronach, Moses Gunn, Thomas Hill, and Alan Oppenheimer as the voices of Falkor and Gmork. At the time of its release, it was the most expensive film produced outside the USA or the USSR. It was then followed by two sequels: The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter and The NeverEnding Story III: Escape From Fantasia.[1] The novel's author, Michael Ende, felt that this adaptation's content deviated so far from his book that he requested they either halt production or change the name; when they did neither, he sued them and subsequently lost the case.[2] The film only adapts the first half of the book, and consequently does not convey the message of the title as it was portrayed in the novel. The second half of the book would subsequently be used as the rough basis for the second film (while the third film has a completely original plot).

Plot[edit]

Bastian Bux (Barret Oliver), a quiet boy who loves to read, is accosted by bullies on his way to school. He hides in a bookstore, interrupting the grumpy bookseller, Mr. Koreander (Thomas Hill). Bastian asks about one of the books he sees, but Mr. Koreander warns him it is "not safe." Nevertheless, Bastian "borrows" the book, leaving a note promising to return it, and races towards school. He then hides in the school's attic to begin reading The Neverending Story.

The book describes the fantasy world of Fantasia which is being threatened by a force called "The Nothing," a void of darkness that consumes everything. The Childlike Empress (Tami Stronach), who rules over Fantasia from the Ivory Tower, has fallen ill due to the Nothing, and she has summoned Atreyu (Noah Hathaway), a young warrior from the Plains People, to discover the means to end the Nothing. Atreyu is given AURYN, a medallion to protect and guide him. As Atreyu sets out the Nothing summons Gmork (voiced by Alan Oppenheimer), a vicious and highly intelligent werewolf, to kill Atreyu.

AURYN, the original prop, which is now owned by Steven Spielberg.[3]

Atreyu's quest directs him to an ancient being called Morla that resides in the Swamps of Sadness. Though AURYN protects Atreyu from its effects, his beloved horse Artax is lost to the swamp. Atreyu continues through the swamp, and is surprised when Morla reveals itself as a giant tortoise-like being. Bastian, reading, is also surprised and lets out a scream; when he continues reading, Bastian is curious that Atreyu and Morla appeared to have heard his scream. Morla does not have the answers Atreyu seeks, but directs him to the Southern Oracle, ten thousand miles distant.

Atreyu attempts to trek through the Swamps but even AURYN cannot protect him indefinitely. Atreyu blacks out, but awakens, clean and restored, next to the luckdragon Falkor (voiced by Alan Oppenheimer), who had rescued Atreyu at the last minute and brought him to the Southern Oracle. Two gnomes who helped restore Atreyu explain what they know about the Oracle, including the trials that one must face before reaching it. As the Nothing draws near, Atreyu completes one trial and is perplexed when the second trial, a mirror that shows the viewer's true self, reveals a boy matching Bastian's description sitting in an attic reading a book. Bastian recoils in shock and throws the book aside, but cautiously continues reading after setting up candles in the darkened attic. Atreyu, past the trials, stands before the Oracle, who tells him the only way to save the Princess is to find a human child to give her a new name, but such a child can only be obtained beyond the boundaries of Fantasia. Atreyu and Falkor flee before the Nothing consumes the Oracle.

The two try to locate the boundary of Fantasia, but the power of the Nothing has grown, and Atreyu is knocked from Falkor's back into the Sea of Possibilities, losing AURYN in the process. He wakes up on the shore of an abandoned town, and as he explores, he finds a series of wall paintings describing his quest to the present, including one of him facing against Gmork. Gmork reveals himself, and explains that Fantasia is humanity's hopes and dreams, but that the Nothing, which represents human apathy, cynicism, and the denial of childish dreams, eats away at it. The beast then attacks as the Nothing starts to consume the town; Atreyu kills Gmork with a sharp rock. Atreyu fights against the pull of the Nothing, but as he gives out, Falkor arrives to save him, having found AURYN earlier.

When Atreyu recovers, he finds they are flying in a black void with the only remnants of Fantasia floating around. Fearing his quest has failed, Atreyu is elated when the Ivory Tower appears. After landing, Atreyu races to see the Empress and apologizes for his failure. To his surprise, the Empress declares that he was successful, as he has brought the human child, Bastian, with him through his adventure. As the Nothing starts to consume the Ivory Tower, the Princess pleas directly to Bastian to give her a new name before it is too late. Bastian races to the attic windows and shouts the name "Moonchild" (his deceased mother's name) before the wind outside extinguishes the candles and sends the room into darkness.

Bastian finds himself in a black void with the Empress. She shows him a single grain of sand, the last remaining part of Fantasia, but insists that Bastian's imagination, through the power of wishing, can restore Fantasia from it. After a moment's thought, Bastian wishes for the restoration of the land, and finds himself riding Falkor over the restored Fantasia, including Atreyu reunited with Artax. Bastian whispers into Falkor's ear; in the real world, the bullies that had chased down Bastian at the start suddenly find themselves being chased by Bastian and Falkor. A narrator states that Bastian had many more wishes and adventures; however similar to Scheherazade in "Arabian Nights", the narrator ended it by saying "but that's another story".

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

This film adaptation only covered the first half of the book. The majority of the movie was filmed in Germany, except for Barret Oliver's scenes, which were shot in Vancouver, BC, Canada. It was Germany's highest budgeted film of the time.

Music[edit]

The film score of The NeverEnding Story was composed by Klaus Doldinger of the German jazz group Passport. The theme song of the North American release of the film was composed by Giorgio Moroder with lyrics by Keith Forsey, and performed by Limahl (lead singer of Kajagoogoo) and Beth Anderson. This song, along with other "techno-pop" treatments to the soundtrack, are not present in the German version of the film, which features Doldinger's orchestral score exclusively.

The theme song performed by Limahl was released as a single in 1984, it peaked at No. 4 on the UK singles chart, No. 6 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100. The American theme song has been covered by The Birthday Massacre, Creamy, Dragonland, Kenji Haga, and New Found Glory. Norwegian synthpop group Echo Image covered the song on their 2001 maxi-single Skulk, and German techno group Scooter covered the song on their 2007 album Jumping All Over the World.

An official soundtrack album was released featuring Doldinger's score and Moroder's theme tune (Moroder also rescored several scenes for the version released outside Germany).[4] The track listing (Doldinger is responsible for everything from track 6 onwards) is as follows:

In Germany an album featuring Klaus Doldinger's score was released.

Reaction[edit]

Critical response[edit]

The film opened to generally positive reviews, and has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 80% based on reviews from 31 critics.[5] Metacritic gives the film a score of 46% based on reviews from 10 critics.[6]

Film critic Roger Ebert gave it three out of four stars and praised its visual effects, saying that "an entirely new world has been created" because of them,[7] a comment echoed by Variety.[1] Joshua Tyler of CinemaBlend referred to it as "One of a scant few true Fantasy masterpieces".[5]

Vincent Canby panned the film as a "graceless, humorless fantasy for children" in a 1984 The New York Times review. Canby's criticism charged that parts of the movie "sounded like 'The Pre-Teenager's Guide to Existentialism'". He further criticized the "tacky" special effects, and that the construction of the dragon looked like "an impractical bathmat."[8]

Box office[edit]

The film performed very well at the box office, grossing $100 million worldwide against a production budget of DM 60 million (approximately $27 million at the time). Almost five million people went to watch it in Germany, a number rarely achieved by German productions, resulting in a gross of about $20 million domestically. It also grossed a similar amount in the United States; only a modest sum in the American market, which director Wolfgang Peterson ascribed to the film's European sensibilities.[9]

Awards[edit]

This film won two awards in 1984 and three in 1985

  • 1985 won the Saturn Award for: Best Performance by a Young Actor
  • 1985 won the Brazilian Film Award for: Best Production
  • 1985 won the Film Award in Gold for: Best Production Design

Nominations[edit]

This film was nominated for three awards in 1985

  • 1985 nominated for the Saturn Award for : Best Fantasy Film, and Best Music
  • 1985 nominated for Young Artist Award for : Best Family Motion Picture, Best Young Actor, Best Young Supporting Actress.

Home media[edit]

The Region 1 DVD was first released in 2001 by Warner Bros., containing only the North American release of the film. The only audio option is a 2.0 stereo mix in either English or Spanish. The theatrical trailer is the lone extra feature presented.

Europe has had a few releases of the film on DVD, the most lavish being a 2003, 2-disc special edition with packaging shaped like the book from the film and containing both the North American and German releases of the film. Various extras, such as a 45-minute documentary, music video, and galleries, are presented on the second disc.[10] However, there is no English audio for the German version of the film. This edition is out of print; the standard 1-disc edition is available for the Region 2 market.

A Dutch import has also appeared on the Internet in various places, which only contains the North American release of the film but also includes a remastered DTS surround track, which is not found in either the German or the Region 1 release.

Also, in 2008, Czech and Slovak language DVD versions appeared in Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The first BD release was a region-free Dutch edition on March 24, 2007.

On March 2, 2010, Warner released a Region A Blu-ray edition of the film. The disc includes a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track (and marks the first time a 5.1 surround track has been included on a home video of the film in the US). No special features or theatrical trailer are included.[11]

Legacy[edit]

The film has since been an inspiration in popular culture. The American metal band Atreyu derived their name from the character of Atreyu. Another American rock band, Bayside, have used quotes from the film as titles of their songs. Examples include "They look like strong hands" and "They're not horses, they're unicorns". American comedy rock band The Aquabats wrote a song inspired by the film called "Luck Dragon Lady", and live performances of the song are accompanied by a large Falkor puppet.[12]

Second adaptation[edit]

In 2009 it was reported that Warner Bros., The Kennedy/Marshall Co., and Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way were in the early stages of rebooting the franchise by re-adapting Michael Ende's novel of the same name. They intend to "examine the more nuanced details of the book" rather than remake the original film by Wolfgang Petersen.[13] However, in 2011, producer Kathleen Kennedy said that problems securing the rights to the story may mean a second adaptation is "not meant to be."[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Variety staff (1984-01-01). "The Neverending Story Review". Variety. Retrieved 2008-07-13. 
  2. ^ Logan Bentley (1984-08-24). "An Irate Michael Ende Blasts the 'Disgusting' Film Made from His Best-Seller, The Neverending Story". People. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  3. ^ Brian Jacks (2010-03-15). "EXCLUSIVE: The Never-Before-Told Tale Of Steven Spielberg's Involvement In 'The Neverending Story'". MTV. Retrieved 2014-07-06. 
  4. ^ "Klaus Doldinger / Original Soundtrack - Never Ending Story". Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Rotten Tomatoes (2008-07-13). "The Neverending Story at Rotten Tomatoes". Flixster. Retrieved 2008-07-13. 
  6. ^ Metacritic (2010-10-30). "The NeverEnding Story at Metacritic". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  7. ^ Roger Ebert (1984-01-01). "Roger Ebert reviews The Neverending Story". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-07-13. 
  8. ^ Canby, Vincent (July 20, 1984). "The Neverending Story (1984)". New York Times. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  9. ^ Haase, Christine (2007). When Heimat Meets Hollywood: German Filmmakers and America, 1985-2005. Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture 14. Camden House Publishing. p. 80. ISBN 9781571132796. 
  10. ^ "Review of: The Neverending Story - Special Edition". Retrieved 23 January 2010. 
  11. ^ Blu-ray.com
  12. ^ "Coachella 2011: The Aquabats make dragons and Danny DeVito appear on stage". Los Angeles Times. April 2011. 
  13. ^ ""The NeverEnding Story" to be Rebooted". WorstPreviews. February 26, 2009. 
  14. ^ http://www.ign.com/articles/2011/12/17/about-that-neverending-story-remake

External links[edit]