on October 26, 2004
In 1994, Wolfgang Petersen directed the film adaptation of the German novel "Die Unendliche Geschichte", which was written by Michael Ende (1929-1995). The film/novel is better known in the U.S. with its English title of "The Neverending Story". It was also the first film that Wolfgang Petersen filmed in English. The story begins with a troubled boy named Bastian (Barret Oliver), who is being raised by his father (Gerald McRaney). An avid reader with an active imagination, Bastian walks into a used bookstore owned by Mr. Koreander (Thomas Hill) and finds a mysterious book that captures his curiosity. Mr. Koreander seemingly doesn't want to sell the book to him, but Bastian manages to run from the store with book in hand. Bastian takes the book to school with him, where he is tormented by three bullies (Drum Garrett, Darryl Cooksey & Nicholas Gilbert). To avoid the bullies, Bastian finds refuge in a rarely-used attic within the school and begins to read from the book about a magical land called Fantasia. Fantasia is a wonderful place with many unusual characters and is ruled by the Childlike Princess (Tami Stronach), but something terrible is happening to Fantasia as parts of it are disappearing by an unknown force referred to only as "the nothing". The Childlike Princess calls upon the strongest warrior to find a human child to stop "the nothing". The warrior, a boy named Atreyu (Noah Hathaway) of a tribe similar to Native Americans, takes the protective signet that the Childlike Princess gives to him and sets off to find a human child, which can only be found beyond the bounds of Fantasia. To his astonishment, as Bastian reads the book and the many adventures, challenges and dangers and Atreyu faces, Bastian slowly begins to realize whom Atreyu and the Childlike Princess are actually seeking.
With imaginative characters, good cinematography & special effects and an endearing & well-written story, "The Neverending Story" is a wonderful and engaging film that not only captures Bastian's imagination in the story, but the audience's imagination as well. Other memorable characters in the film include Teeny Weeny (Deep Roy), Night Hob (Tilo Prückner), Cairon (Moses Gunn), Engywook (Sydney Bromley), Urgl (Patricia Hayes), Falkor (voice of Alan Oppenheimer), Rock Biter, the Racing Snail and the Bat. Overall, I rate "The Neverending Story" with 5 out of 5 stars and very highly recommend it to both young & old alike. It's a wonderful film that can be watched time and again without becoming tiresome. Sadly, the film's two sequels (produced in 1990 & 1994) were far less memorable. Other films directed by Wolfgang Petersen include "Das Boot" (1981), "Enemy Mine" (1985), "The Perfect Storm" (2000) and "Troy" (2004).
on August 30, 2001
Just in case anyone is wondering, as one reviewer did, the name that Bastien yells out the window at the end of the movie is "Moonchild". My wife happened upon a book version of the story, and it is spelled out there. It is very difficult to understand him in the film, but if you listen carefully, he yells it out in 3 syllables -- "Moon---chi---uld!!!" As for the movie, it's nothing short of a classic. I revisited this movie recently, having not seen it since I was young, when it was my favorite movie. I was struck by some logical inconsistencies (Why is Atreiu the only hope? Aren't there some grown-up Plains warriors who would fare better? Why can't he take his bow and arrow??) But that's the cynical adult in me talking. The movie has such terrific effects and the puppets are incredible. Both the Luck Dragon and the Rock Biter look more real than the digital characters in recent movies.
And as for Bastien's "wish" at the end of the movie.....it's exactly what any little boy would want. What a great movie!!!
on June 13, 2001
I don't know if I have the words to express the way this movie has inpired my life. When I was young, I watched it several times a day until I knew every line, could sing every note of the opening theme song ~ even still to this day.
The Never Ending Story has two heroes and two villains. The first hero and villain are outside the book, high above the fantasy.
Bastian is a young kid that is blessed with a great imagination (He gets in trouble for drawing unicorns in his math book.) He lacks courage and is always being beaten up by bullies and stuffed into dumpsters. While running away from these bullies, he hides in a bookstore. When in there, he makes off with a book that has the snake-twisted orrin on the cover...you guessed it...the neverending story.
"The Nothing", is the first ultra-villain. It's reason for existence is a secret that I don't want to spoil. It is destroying fantasia for its own means(Brought to life by the guys that invisioned The Empire Strikes Back!) The Nothing is becoming rampant, and the ruler, the Empress is dying. The people of fantasia, the world in which all fantasy resides, seek help from a great warrior Atreau. The ultimate second villain, A massive wolf with Glowing green eyes, takes flight through the forests to stop Atreau on his quest.
There is so much to the story! It is the type of movie you'll want to watch over and over until your player starts steaming.
It will soon be on DVD in September, so wait until then if your a crazed dvd loony like me. I have a feeling its gonna be awesome! Hope this review helped!
on January 9, 2002
Like so many other reviewers, I watched this as a small child. My kindergarten teacher just loved it. At the time, I found it horrible, dark and scary. (I was a VERY wimpy movie watcher, Raiders of the Lost Ark sent me into hysterics)
Years later, I decided to bite the bullet and try it again. I found it to be a lovely pure fantasy with (for the time) great special effects and good music. Let's face it, you either love electronic fantasy scores or you hate them, there's no real middle ground.
That said, I do think that this movie is too scary for small children, parents should use their own experience and knowledge to decide when their child is ready. (That is what the PG means)
This is the tale of a sensitive child who finds himself being absorbed into the magical book he is reading, called the Neverending Story. (That is where the movie gets its name, the story is different for each person, thus it never ends. There was no ripoff) Dragons, monsters and beautiful images dance in his head as he slowly realizes that the characters in the book are talking to him.
The movie is based on a German novel of the same name by Michael Ende. (a master of surrealist fairy tales for grown ups) Yes, the book is better and yes, the movie only takes the first half of the book. But really, isn't it better to take the first half mostly intact rather than try to cram in every single scene and totally alienate all viewers? What this book really needs is a miniseries but until then, this movie is great.
Two other questions raised were what was the name Bastion yelled. Moonchild, and it wasn't his mother's name in the book (though it is possible if she were a hippy '_') The second question was about the attic. AS the book was written by a German, one may presume that some German schools have attics. Or maybe it was just another fairy tale element added to make the story more surreal. (Attics always seem to figure into fairy tales) either way, it is a relatively small thing to worry about.
This is a very fine example of 80s fantasy, it has a good message and if you or your children are not easily frightened, it is a very good movie on a rainy day. As an owner of 186 books all I can say is see the movie, savour the book.
on June 19, 2001
"Die Unendliche Geschichte"
Released in 1984, this movie is perhaps the best of the classic 80s fantasy resurgence. Along with The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and Ridley Scott's Legend, The Neverending Story lets us all escape from reality for a while.
This film, however, rises above others in its genre by offering a somewhat postmodern examination of the desires and needs for escape from everyday life. Drawing comparisons between Bastian's storybook readings and our own cinema-going, the film ultimately condones such escapist daydreaming - disapproved of by Bastian's father early in the movie - and offers us hope that if we follow those dreams with all our heart, we will achieve them.
Visually stunning with Ul de Rico's inimitable production design, and directed with a beautifully non-Hollywood flare by German director Wolfgang Petersen, The Neverending Story is a film to be not only enjoyed but cherished. On the surface it's an exhiliarating fantasy ride, below it's an examination of the childhood daydreams most of us have given up on or forgotten. Relive them.
All the leads are strong, with some brilliant supporting performances from actors and creatures alike. Followed by George 'Mad Max' Miller's sequel in 1990, which was watchable but suffered from the lead-cast changes (unavoidable as the original actors were hitting twenty), and an abysmal third installment in 1994, which should be avoided at all costs.
NOTE: This review was written just prior to the release of the DVD version. I hope Warners give the film the treatment it deserves - no film with $27m of production design in it goes without supplementary material. There are two versions of the film, the German version containing Klaus Doldinger's complete score and lacking Giorgio Moroder's memorable theme song. The musci video at least should be included.
on March 27, 2004
In Japan NeverEnding Story was roadshowed at that time. Because I was 8 years old, couldn't understand the movies that had difficult story. On the other hand, as the age was young, had the eyes that could feel fantasy stories purely, that is, had the pure mind that could feel what bravery or challenging etc was wonderful thing.
When I was a adult now, having such a thinking is difficult, that is, when think about [bravery or challenging], in mind needless thinkings are added, resignation, fear, uneasy etc..
I was happy that can watch this film when was child.
Recently I watched the film on TV aggain after an interval of twenty years. But even if I am a adult, the moving mind remained, I was moved very much again as I was a boy. For instance when the horse sinked into a marsh, I that was child cried, and when I watched the scene again on TV, I have the emotion of the sorrow.
when we get to be adults, in many meaning we lose the mind that we had in children age, for instance, passion, trial, tenderness etc. Because we are followed by time, money, benefit etc, tend to forget such important things.
But by watching the movies, I feel that got such mind again in addition to have remembered the scenery of my child age.
Thank you for reading poor English.
on February 21, 2004
One of my favorite movies from the first time I saw it great story and for the time it was made stunning visuals, however the reason that this DVD gets 3 stars and not 5 is due to the reduced amount of viewable area compared to the VHS. Examples are when atreyu wakes up after being rescued by Falcor and falcor sneakingly opens one eye you can only see enopugh of his face to see the eye where as in the VHS you saw his whole face. Another is where the gone woman asks if he is still in pain and he rubs his arm which you cannot see in the DVD but you can clearly see his arm in the VHS. They need to re-fit the video to correct this little issue that is on through the whole movie and it truely does take from the feeling of the film. one of the few times you will see me recomend a VHS over a DVD. Thank you for reading my article.
on November 29, 2003
I really enjoy this movie, but what I am starting to realize know is the extraordinary symbolism of this movie.
The Barret Oliver character literally escapes into the book and you see his adventures of the indian boys quest to stop "The Nothing." The Nothing is an excellent enemy: formless, unstopable, it's only goal is to destroy whatever is in it's path. It represents the gradual disentegration of imagination and fantasy. But within this world there is still hope represented by the princess, Falcor, and the characters scattered throught the film.
Amazing work by Wolfgang Petersen and his crew. It blew me away to find out he had directed this movie considering I had known him as the director of some of the best and most intelligent action films I've seen: Das Boot, Air Force One, In the Line of Fire. He did this incredible job of making the film appeal to kids and adults at the same time without being, well, sappy!:)
It came as quite a shock to American critics when Wolfgang Petersen, best-known for his direction of the gritty submarine drama 'Das Boot', chose a children's fantasy for his first American film. But The Neverending Story is a fanciful, engaging, and thoroughly enchanting fairy tale, and has become a bit of a classic of the genre!
The story appears to be simple; a young boy named Bastian, withdrawn since his mother's death, and the target of local bullies, finds refuge in a magical book about a mythical world called Fantasia, filled with sweet and bizarre creatures, an ethereally beautiful Empress (played by the luminous Tami Stronach), and a young hero (Battlestar Galactica's Noah Hathaway) that he immediately relates to.
What truly sets this film apart is its underlying message of 'What Is Real?' The characters of the story keep referring to Bastian, and how he must save their world. Bastian must learn to use his imagination, to let go of preconceptions of reality...and, ultimately, the viewer is given the same choice, as well, in one of the most novel twists I've seen in a film in a long time!
Being produced by an international team, the film has a decidedly European 'feel', even with the participation of Gerald McRaney ('Simon and Simon', 'Major Dad') and the other American actors. Major pluses include the beautiful theme music, some terrific low-key creatures (I LOVED the giant flying dog!), and an approach to fantasy that is closer in spirit to 'The Princess Bride' than 'The Lord of the Rings'.
While the DVD has a great 'look', it has virtually no special features; one hopes a 'Director's Cut' DVD might eventually be made! Also, be forewarned that various sequels to this film have been produced, that aren't NEARLY as good as the original. THIS IS THE ONE TO BUY!
Treat your kids and yourself to a terrific tale! The Neverending Story is wonderful!
on September 2, 2012
I usually never spend my time writing reviews of movies or products. But in this case I felt I had to vent about this utter disappointment that Warner Home Video has produced. This review is not about the movie itself so much as the Blu-ray and it's shortcomings. Especially when compared to the DVD which says a lot because there was only ever 1 DVD release of this fantastic film and it was even among the first generation of DVDs produced, and it STILL whoops the Blu-ray's ass no contest.
This release is a horrible injustice to anyone who is a fan of this movie and has been eagerly been anticipating its "upgraded" Blu-ray version. I loved this movie as a kid and I still love it as an adult. Plot & story aside, the movie is quite literally a cinematic work of art. A true visual & aural masterpiece of the fabled 80s era of movies that a lot of us grew up with. To this day there are very few true fantasy films out there, and this one has always been among the classic greats of my generation.
If ever a movie deserved a top quality re-transfer & release, it is this one. Not many people have never heard of The NeverEnding Story. The DVD release was actually pretty damn good. and I could understand why Warner Bros. stepped back and decided it didn't need a 2nd release on DVD. But then in 2006 Blu-ray made its debut, and many of us avid movie collectors became very excited about the prospect of seeing the movies that we grew up with look so good in pristine 1080p.
At first I was a bit jaded about the whole thing, because I had already spent so much money over the years amassing my vast DVD collection. And now here comes big bad Blu-ray to try to make me start all over again and make my DVDs look inferior by comparison. But when the prices came down I decided to give Blu-ray a chance, and am so happy I did because it is (usually) a massive step up from DVD. But not this one... : ( Nope, this disc is a waste of both money and of plastic.
I have seen what this format is truly capable of. Even on older movies, if true care is put into them, the Blu-ray release can make a movie look like it was shot yesterday with a digital film camera. They could have extended that level of care to this epic masterpiece that Wolfgang Peterson created. But instead they just half-assed its transfer & "clean-up" and got it out on store shelves just as fast as they could to make a quick buck off of unsuspecting hopefuls like myself. Truly intolerable.
First of all, they made NO effort at ALL to clean up the picture quality. There is grain grain grain. Grain everywhere throughout the film. Even the glorious opening credits look like trash. Had they truly given a damn, they could have taken the original negative and ran it through todays much more advanced & thorough telecine filters & digital encoders. They could have made the picture absolutely flawless. And they definitely SHOULD have. But they didn't do anything of the sort.
I mean they did a pretty good job cleaning up this film for DVD compared to the VHS release for what it was. That was back in the late 90s. We've come a long way since then and they could have taken the digital restoration efforts to a whole new level. Eliminated every spec of grain and made this film look brand spankin' new. Sure, the picture is sharper than the DVD only because it's now presented in 1080p. But that really just means more defined grain in this case.
Next up is color. Whatever lazy idiot was put in charge of this specific title, that person should really look into another line of work. Because they clearly attempted some form of crappy color correction here by vastly & obviously changing whole entire palettes throughout the film. It's especially apparent in the first few chapters of the Blu-ray right after Bastian starts reading the book. Especially the one where the Ivory Tower is revealed for the first time. It's almost entirely ORANGE!! God it looks absolutely hideous! The once vibrant & picturesque colors are now all washed out and dull, and completely drowned out but the orange hue they implemented.
They messed with the hues & saturation levels all over the film, but it's the worst here. And this was one of the coolest parts of the movie. The introduction to Fantasia and to the story's hero and to the quest he must undertake. All garbage now. On top of all that, they lowered the brightness considerably everywhere. But especially here. Now it's so dark that you can barely see what the heck is going on. When Atreyu leaves on his horse Artax, you can't even see it because it's so dark!
I get what these sloppy fools were trying achieve here. Something to do with "The sun was setting, so we thought it would be better if we stayed more consistent with that by flooding the scenes with orange sunlight. And then by the time Atreyu takes off, it would be already nearly dark, so let's try to fix that now, shall we?" Idiots. Amateurs. All they really did was drag the picture quality through the digital mud. It's freakin' FANTASIA for God's sake! Time & true-to-life color have no meaning here!
If you play the DVD and the Blu-ray together and make the visual comparison, you will quite clearly see the vast differences I have pointed out. The DVD is brighter, more vivid, and most importantly truer to the original release. The film-makers & production designers made their choices and they were good ones. Who are these jokers to mess with that? It looked way WAY better the way it was originally.
Look. Bottom line here, people, is that this is an all around failure of a Blu-ray transfer. It does NOT enhance the experience one bit. Visually I mean. Sure it's 1080p now. But what good is that if it still looks like crap? They actually managed to make it WORSE than it was before, on the most modern medium. It's like they just transfered the VHS to a Blu-ray disc. In fact the only improvement they DID make was the sound is now the lossless DTS 5.1 mix. So if you're blind, this is a sensible upgrade to buy.
I hope & pray that Warner Home Video does the right thing in time and sees these flaws for what they are and decides to step up to the plate and give this movie a REAL Blu-ray release where there is NO grain anymore, the colors are preserved & enhanced, the brightness levels are left as they were and it just all around looks incredible when compared to the DVD and this terrible first Blu-ray release. But considering it only ever got 1 DVD release, it's a slim chance that'll happen. I wanna cry.
If I was Wolfgang Peterson, I would take more pride in my movies and ensure they when they get released to the world on a new medium, that they're getting the attention to detail that they need to have. If I wanted to show this movie to my kids or to someone who has never seen it before, I would pull out the DVD and watch it in 720p, rather than have their 1st experience with this timeless classic be this trashy Blu-ray.
DO NOT BUY THIS STEAMING PILE OF CRAP BLU-RAY. I promise you you will be summarily & thoroughly let down with what you witness. Case closed.