When The NeverEnding Story was released in 1984, it was without the blessing of the author who wrote the original book of the same title. Michael Ende was displeased with the creative liberties the film took. His disowning of the movie did little harm to the box office receipts, however, as The NeverEnding Story would go on to win the hearts of many a young fantasy fan.
The story centers around a ten-year-old boy named Bastian Bux, a child mercilessly tormented by his fellow classmates. One day, upon being chased by a group of bullies, he seeks refuge inside a strange old bookstore, run by an old curmudgeon who despises video games. When he learns that Bastian is different from the average kid, a voracious reader, he mentions a book in his store so compelling that once it is opened, it is impossible to put down. Intrigued by this prospect, Bastian “borrows” the mysterious volume and takes it to the school attic for a day of stealthy reading.
This enchanting book, titled The NeverEnding Story, tells of a magical kingdom led by The Childlike Empress. But the kingdom’s days are numbered as an approaching blackness known as “The Nothing” threatens to destroy the kingdom. As the captivated Bastian reads about Atrayu, the brave young warrior who the Empress has dispatched to save her ever-darkening world, he soon finds himself within the story itself and face to face with Atrayu, who will need Bastian’s help to save the Empress and the kingdom itself.
The NeverEnding Story was one of many films of the 80s that attempted to bring fantasy literature to the big screen. But unlike The Dark Crystal, The Black Cauldron and Legend, this West German film won the hearts of audience with its generous offerings of special effects, flying dogs, and enormous but benevolent rock beasts. A huge hit in Europe and a modest success in the United States, it would eventually spawn two sequels as well as an animated series.
If you have fond memories of this beloved fantasy film from yesteryear, we invite you to share your thoughts in our comments section, as we tip our hats to a classic.