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Film Review: The NeverEnding Story

Updated on March 24, 2017
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Written by: Jason Wheeler, Film Frenzy Senior Writer & Editor.


In 1984, Wolfgang Petersen released The NeverEnding Story¸ based on the 1979 novel of the same name written by Michael Ende. Starring Barret Oliver, Noah Hathaway, Tami Stronach, Alan Oppenheimer, Thomas Hill, Deep Roy, Tilo Pruckner, Moses Gunn, Sydney Bromley, Patricia Hayes, Gerald McRaney and Darryl Cooksey, the film grossed $100 million at the box office.


Bastian, an ostracized young boy who loves to read, steals a book he's told has no ending. In it, he reads of a magical land where Atreyu goes on a quest to save said land from vanishing. However, as Bastian continues to read the book, he finds it seems to be aware of him.


With well-done instances of breaking the fourth wall, The NeverEnding Story is a great and very well made fantasy film with wonderful moments and good characters.

The film has quite a few memorable moments laden throughout it as Bastian reads on and Atreyu journeys onward to discover the Childlike Empress’ cure. However, not all of those moments are joyful. One of the most memorable moments in the film is when Artax becomes lost in the Swamp of Sadness. While losing a horse in and of itself is pretty depressing, it’s coupled with Hathaway’s acting, making Atreyu into a blathering mess in trying to pull the horse and make it move. The implication makes it memorable as well. The Swamp of Sadness is said to drain anyone who travels through it of all joy and happiness and cause them to not want to go on. This means Artax lost the will to go on and became suicidal. Another very memorable moment is when Atreyu goes through the trials to reach the Oracle. It’s established grown men and brave warriors don’t make it through, which makes sense seeing as they’re designed to evoke anxiousness and fright. Yet Atreyu is able to pass those trials because while he is anxious and does have fear, he has the bravery and determination to power through them.

Additionally, the trials are one of the more interesting points, especially in how the fourth wall is broken in terms of Bastian and the book. When Atreyu finds his true self either looks or is blatantly Bastian, both are surprised, but the latter gets so scared, he has to convince himself to finish.

The best part of the film comes in the ending, where it’s revealed Bastian has the power to save the entire land from vanishing. It speaks very well of the power and the gift of imagination and what can be done with it.

All of this means Bastian is not just an important character, but the most important character, seeing as he’s co-ordained to be the Chosen One who saves the land along with Atreyu. The former because he must understand it’s his job and the latter because he has to show the other he must. Still, there’s many other interesting characters in the film, such as the Childlike Empress, a completely True Neutral character who sees the coexistence of good and evil as necessary for the land’s existence. Further, even though she has great power, she doesn’t use it because doing so would violate her neutrality and ability to be a fair empress.

Furthermore, the film presents the void of nothing as a character in and of itself, known as The Nothing. Simply appearing as a destructive storm, it’s essentially without form and erases everything in its path, making it the villain of the story. Fascinatingly the method of defeating it isn't head on as it merely touching something makes that thing disappear. It can only be defeated by the power of a creative imagination pushing back the power of nothing and destruction.

5 stars for The NeverEnding Story

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinions.

Awards won

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards

  • Best Performance by a Younger Actor (Noah Hathaway)

Bambi Awards

  • Film - National

Bavarian Film Awards

  • Best Production

German Film Awards

  • Film Award in Gold - Best Production Design

Golden Screen, Germany

  • Golden Screen Award

Nominated for

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards

  • Best Fantasy Film
  • Best Music

Fantasporto International Fantasy Film Award

  • Best Production

Young Artist Awards

  • Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical, Comedy, Adventure or Drama (Tami Stronach)
  • Best Young Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical, Comedy, Adventure or Drama (Noah Hathaway)
  • Best Young Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical, Comedy, Adventure or Drama (Barret Oliver)
  • Best Family Motion Picture - Adventure


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