The NeverEnding Story is a 1984 West German-produced English language epic fantasy film based on the novel of the same name by Michael Ende, about a boy who reads a magical book that tells a story of a young warrior whose task is to stop a dark storm called the Nothing from engulfing a fantasy world. The film was produced by Bernd Elchinger and Dieter Giessler and directed and co-written by Wolfgang Petersen. The film starred Noah Hathaway, Barret Oliver, Tami Stonach, Patricia Hayes, Sydney Bromley, Gerald McRaney, Moses Gunn, and Alan Oppenheimer. The film was the first in The NeverEnding Story film series and later followed by two sequels.
Bastian Balthazar Bux is a shy and friendless bibliophile 10-year old, teased by bullies at school. On his way to school, he hides from the bullies in a bookstore, interrupting the grumpy bookseller, Mr. Coreander. Bastian asks about one of the books he sees, but Mr. Coreeander advises against it. His curiosity piqued, Bastian seizes the book, leaving a note promising to return it, and hides in the school's attic to read.
The book describes the world of Fantasia slowly being devoured by malevolent force called "The Nothing". Fantasia's ruler, the Childlike Empress, has fallen ill, and Atreyu is tasked to discover the cure, believing that once the Empress is well, the Nothing will no longer be a threat. Atreyu is given a medallion named the Auryn that can guide and protect him in the quest, As Atreyu sets out, the Nothing summons Gmork, a vicious and highly intelligent wolf-like creature, to kill Atreyu.
Atreyu's quest directs him to the advisor Morla the Ancient One in the Swamps of Sadness. Though the Auryn protects Atreyu, his beloved horse Artax is lost to the swamp, and he continues alone. Later, Atreyu is surprised by the sudden appearance of Morla, a giant turtle. Bastian, reading, is also surprised and lets out a scream, which Atreyu and Morla appear to hear. Morla does not have answers Atreyu seeks, but directs him to the Southern Oracle, ten thousand miles distant. Atreyu succumbs to exhaustion trying to escape the Swamps but is saved by the luckdragon Falkor (voiced by Alan Oppenheimer). Falkor takes him to the home of two gnomes that live near the entrance of the Southern Oracle. The gnomes explain that Atreyu will face various trials before reaching the Oracle. Atreyu proceeds to enter the Oracle, and is perplexed when one second trial, a mirror that shows the viewer's true self, which reveals a boy which Bastian recognizes himself. Bastian throws the book aside, but after catching his breath, continues to read. Atreyu eventually meets the Southern Oracle who tells him the only way to save the Empress is to find a human child to give her a new name, beyond the boundaries of Fantasia.
Atreyu and Falkor flee before the Nothing consumes the Southern Oracle. In flight, Atreyu is knocked from Falkor's back back into the Sea of Possibilities, losing the Auryn in the process. He wakes on the shore of abandoned ruins, where he meets Rock Biter, who laments at the loss of his friends. Atreyu finds a series of paintings of depicting his quest. Gmork reveals himself, having been lying in wait and explains that Fantasia represents humanity's imagination, and that the Nothing represents adult apathy and cynicism against it. Atreyu fends off and kills Gmork as the Nothing begins to consume the ruins. Falkor, who had managed to locate the Auryn and rescues Atreyu in time. The two find themselves in a void with only small fragments of Fantasia remaining, and fear they have failed when they spot the Empress's Ivory Tower among the fragment. Inside, Atreyu apologizes for failing the Empress, but she assures him that he has succeeded in bringing her a human child who has been following his quest. As the Nothing begins to consume the Tower, the Empress pleas directly to Bastian to call out her new name, but in total amazement that he himself has been incorporated into the story as the child they were looking for, totally denies the events as just being the story and Atreyu dies as a result. Bastian runs to the window and calls out the name he had selected into the storm, and loses consciousness.
When he wakes, he finds himself in blackness with the Empress, with only a grain of sand, the last bit of Fantasia remaining. The Empress tells him that he has the power to bring Fantasia back with his imagination using the power of the Auryn. Bastian recreates Fantasia, and as he flies on Falkor's back, he sees the land and it's inhabitants restored, and that Atreyu has been reunited with Artax. When Falkor asks what his next wish will be, Bastian then brings Falkor back to the real world to chase down the bullies from before. The film ends with narration Bastian made many more wishes and adventures, and adds "but that's another story."
- Barret Oliver as Bastian Balthazar Bux.
- Noah Hathaway as Atreyu.
- Tami Stronach as The Childlike Empress, to whom Bastian gives the new name of "Moon Child".
- Patricia Hayes as Urgl, Engywook's wife and a healer.
- Sydney Bromley as Engywook, a gnomish scientist.
- Gerald McRaney as Mr. Bux, Bastian's widowed, workaholic father.
- Moses Gunn as Cairon, a servant of the Empress.
- Alan Oppenheimer as the voices of Falkor, Gmork, Rock Biter, and the Narrator (the latter three are uncredited).
- Thomas Hill as Mr. Coreander, a grumpy bookseller.
- Deep Roy as Teeny Weeny, a messenger riding on a racing snail.
- Tilo Prückner as Nighthob, a messenger riding a narcoleptic bat.
- Darryl Cooksey, Drum Garrett, and Nicholas Gilbert as Ethan, Todd, and Lucas, three bullies who torment Bastian.
The adaptation only covered the first half of the book, The majority of the film was shot at the Bavaria Studios in Munich, except for the street scenes and the school interior in the real world, which were shot in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and the beach where Atreyu falls, which was filmed at Monsul Beach in Almeria Spain. it was Germany's highest budgeted film at the time.
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 of the film was composed by Giorgio Moroder with lyrics by Keith Forsey, and performed by Christopher "Limahl" Hamill, who was once the lead singer of Kajagoogoo, and Beth Anderson. It was released as a single in 1984.
The film was released by Warner Bros. on LaserDisc with a digital stereo soundtrack in 1985. A widescreen laserdisc was released on August 28, 1991, no special features were included. The Region 1 DVD was first released by Warner Bros, containing only the North American release of the film. The only audio option is 2.0 stereo mix in either English or Spanish. The theatrical trailer is lone extra feature presented.
The film has since been an inspiration in popular culture.
Warner Bros. planned adaptation of the novel
In 2009, it was reported that Warner Bros., The Kennedy/Marshall Company and Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way were in the early stages of creating another adaptation of Ende's novel. They intend to "examine the more nuanced details of the book" rather than remake the original film by Petersen.
In 2011, producer Kathleen Kennedy said that problems securing the rights to the story may mean a second adaptation is "not meant to be."
Differences from the novel