233 of 260 people found the following review helpful
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).
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
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.
122 of 137 people found the following review helpful
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!!!
45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
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!
150 of 175 people found the following review helpful
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.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
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.
41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
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.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
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!
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 1999
When I first saw this movie at 11 years, words could not describe the emotions I felt. The Neverending Story has been my favorite ever since, even at 25. It is magical. I still get goosebumps every time I see the movie. The soundtrack is wonderful, such beautifull music. You can almost imagine yourself there with Bastian and Atreju. I am an adult and proud to say that this movie inspires me and it always will! I love to read, especially fantasy novels. If you like to leave it all behind and go some place wonderful just follow Bastian as he reads his story. Bastian is a young boy having a hard time dealing with the death of his mother and also a father who insists he grow up much to fast. He reads The Neverending Story, which is about a boy warrior, Atreju. Atreju is on a quest to find a way to stop the Nothing, a horrible thing which is eating up Fantasia. The warrior must travel thousands of miles and meet many enchanting friends along the way. As Atreju goes on this quest Bastian discovers that he is living vicariously through Atreju and that this story, this quest is all meant to reach him. Bastian realizes he is a very important part and that he alone can save Fantasia. He learns that his dreams and imagination are all part of life and are a necessity. Without our imagination we are all in a sad existence and easily controlled because we have no drive, no inspiration. Watch it, keep and open mind and heart and you will see that you are also a part of The Neverending Story.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2003
Let's face it. Most of us who rate this movie highly do so because it invokes all those rosy-hued memories of our childhood decade. One only has to bring it up to another Gen-Y-er, or whistle a few bars of the opening theme song, to see eyes light up with recognition amid wistful sighs for a more innocent time.
It is the characters and rich settings that pull this film off.
Leads Barret Oliver and Noah Hathaway are both on the verge of being too beautiful to be boys. They display a rare depth for young actors, Oliver's over-dramatic portrayal being unbelievable only for those who are never around play-acting children. Hathaway's subtle facial expressions are riveting, and he deserves respect if for no other reason than for nearly carrying the entire movie. The breathtaking Tami Stromach as the Childlike Empress was every young girl's dream character before the era of the Disney Princess, and she played her enigmatic role with suitable poise and mystery. Who of this generation did NOT, sometime in their childhood, convene with schoolyard cronies to "play Neverending Story" and then argue about who would "be" the Empress, Atreyu, or Bastian? Obviously these characters strike a chord with kids.
The story bears a somewhat faint resemblance to the book on which it is based, though the original author was so dissapointed with the result that he did not want his name associated with the film in any way. I have read the book, and found it to be rich in imagination, depth, and dare I say it, moral psychology, much of which contrives to be muddy and confusing to very young readers. The film simplifies it rather starkly, but in a way I think is satisfying. Classic themes of identity, of an underdog's triumph, of imagination empowering reality, are clearly emphasized. Complaints that the movie ends halfway through the book are valid, but the truth is that the book almost becomes two stories, with the second half diverging wildly from the pacing and characterization of the first, and to try and fit it all into a two-hour film would have done neither film nor book proper justice.
Special effects were groundbreaking for the time, some more successful than others. I didn't realize until several years ago that Engywook and Urgle were supposed to be tiny gnome-like creatures! I always assumed, even as a child, that they were exactly what they are - normal sized people shot in skewed perspective with Atreyu. It wasn't until noticing that they used different sized props between them and Atreyu that I realized the perspective was actually deliberately forced! Ah well...it was a long way to Lord of the Rings.
A few complaints: some sets seem cramped. The scene in which the "ambassadors" from all over Fantasia approach the Ivory Tower sets it up as an enormous landmark where masses of representatives from every one of the no-doubt vast peoples are to convene, yet when we are given an internal view of the structure, we see a claustrophobic ballroom in which a handful of creatures loiter, and in spite of their various weird and fantastic appearances, we are given no more than a brief glimpse of a few. Costumes of the leads are simple and convincing, though.
Altogether, an enjoyable movie, and one I will definitely show my own children. There are some dark moments for kids not yet jaded by too much modern special-effects violence, so use caution. And please, please, spare anyone else from the appalling sequels...part II had little merit and was vaguely eerie, and part III was not only frankly awful as a film but downright blasphemous from the literary perspective.