Neverending nostalgia: The NeverEnding Story celebrates 30 years this week


This Throwback Thursday is a love letter to a childhood favorite that is celebrating its 30th anniversary this week. Join CliqueClack for a fond look back at ‘The NeverEnding Story’ and the beloved book of the same name. Look for a special anniversary Blu-Ray release later this year.


“If you have never spent whole afternoons with burning ears and rumpled hair, forgetting the world around you over a book, forgetting cold and hunger – If you have never read secretly under the bedclothes with a flashlight, because your father or mother or some other well-meaning person has switched off the lamp on the plausible ground that it was time to sleep because you had to get up so early – If you have never wept bitter tears because a wonderful story has come to an end and you must take your leave of the characters with whom you have shared so many adventures, whom you have loved and admired, for whom you have hoped and feared, and without whose company life seems empty and meaningless – If such things have not been part of your own experience, you probably won’t understand what Bastian did next.”

And thus begins one of the most beloved children’s books of all time – The NeverEnding Story by German author Michael Ende. Until last night, I had never actually read the book, which was first published in German in 1979 and translated into English in 1983. But what he wrote still rings true, if my bloodshot, “I was up reading until 1 a.m. even though I had to be up for work by 6 a.m.” eyes are any indication. While it’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since the film adaptation of The NeverEnding Story premiered on July 20, 1984, part of me knows not only is that possible but it’s probably been at least a good 25 years since the film first rocked my world.

The minute I was introduced to Bastian Balthazar Bux and his love for books, I fell in love and the landscape of my imagination was forever changed. 

Whether discussing the book or the film, the minute I was introduced to Bastian Balthazar Bux and his love for books and hatred for school bullies, I fell in love and the landscape of my imagination was forever changed. The NeverEnding Story was a film I used to watch at my grandparents’ house almost on repeat. As a child who came down with the incurable lifelong disease known as bookwormitis earlier than perhaps most, it appealed to my six senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste and imagination) more than many other kids’ movies of the time. Who was not to be entranced by a fantasy world as rich as Fantasia with its wildly inventive inhabitants of all species, sizes, shapes, colors and even textures (if you count the Rock Biter)? I think Bastian (Barret Oliver) and Atreyu (Noah Hathaway) were two of my earliest childhood crushes.

And when I discovered that Bastian got to become a character in the book he was reading as well as that fantasy world’s savior, I knew I was hooked. Sure, Dorothy may have ventured into the colorful Land of Oz inadvertently becoming its savior when she dropped her house on the Wicked Witch of the East, but she wasn’t reading about Oz in a fabulous looking book with an almost hypnotic-looking snake amulet on the cover that she had stolen from a cranky, old man in a bookstore. Nor did her movie have a rockin’ ‘80s soundtrack with a title song sung by Limahl from Kajagoogoo!

After reading the book, there are some things I’m sad I didn’t get to see translated onto the big screen. These would include Ygramul the Many (a swarm of bugs in the form of a giant spider who was feasting on Falkor when Atreyu came along and saved him), the Wind Giants, the House of Change and especially Perilin the Night Forest and Grograman, the Lord of the Desert of Colors and the Many-Colored Death. A night forest with edible luminous fruits and a desert with rainbow-colored sands and a lion for its protector? Sign me up for those special effects, please! I can overlook the fact that Artax was supposed to talk or that Atreyu was supposed to have olive-green skin.

The NeverEnding Story remains one of my all-time favorite films. Few films can compete with its sense of adventure and passion, its fantastic musical score, its story or its elaborately designed characters and costumes. I was a little surprised to discover the author of the book was not pleased with the film – that is until I read his book. The poor man probably felt like they had chopped his literary masterpiece in half because that’s exactly what they did. And a sequel didn’t come along until 1990, which was poorly received.

The plot for The NeverEnding Story Part II was terrible … the villainess and her minions looked like something off Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

Aside from the fact that it starred Jonathan Brandis as Bastian, I remember being disappointed the first time I watched The NeverEnding Story Part II: The Next Chapter. The actors were all different and the production had a cheaper look to it. The plot was terrible and the villainess and her minions looked like something off Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. It somehow felt all wrong. This was not the magical Fantasia (or Fantastica, as it’s known in the book) that I remembered. However, after reading the book, I have a little more respect for the sequel than I used to. Believe it or not, it actually did follow the book’s plot – the other half of the book that had been previously ignored. It might have botched the story in its delivery, but it makes more sense if you actually read the book. Bastian never left Fantasia and returned. Once he came and gave the Childlike Empress a new name (Moon Child – though that’s much harder to decipher from watching the film), the book goes on to describe his many adventures through Fantasia before he is returned to the human world and his worried father.

Don’t get me started on The NeverEnding Story Part III: Escape from Fantasia, which came out in 1994. Part III is a colossal waste of time and a scourge on anyone’s memories of Fantasia. Its plot is not only painful to sit through, but it has nothing to do with the book. Aside from the cheesiness factor of seeing Jack Black pretend to be a nasty high school bully resplendent in a clichéd black leather jacket (despite that he was around 25 years old at the time), there are absolutely no redeeming factors for this part of the franchise. I never watched the animated series, so I can’t vouch for its integrity.

If you cried when Artax sank into the dismal Swamps of Sadness, you might be an ‘80s kid. 

If you’re of a certain age, perhaps you remember the first time you watched The NeverEnding Story. If you giggled the first time you saw the Rock Biter roll across the screen on his gigantic Big Wheels made of stone or at the concept of a “racing snail,” you might be an ‘80s kid. If you ever wanted your very own luckdragon to soar the skies like Bastian and Falkor, you might be an ‘80s kid. If you were terrified of Gmork the wolf and The Nothing (which may or may not have haunted your dreams and kept you awake at night), you might be an ‘80s kid. If watching Morla the Ancient One sneeze all over Atreyu made you slightly sick to your stomach, you might be an ‘80s kid. If you cried when Artax sank into the dismal Swamps of Sadness, you might be an ‘80s kid. I don’t care how old I get … I still get misty-eyed when Artax bites the dust. I was six years old when I dramatically reinterpreted the Artax death scene for a large group of friends, but that’s another story for another time. (Get on my level!)

If you’re an ‘80s kid and are darn proud of it, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment recently announced The NeverEnding Story: 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray and The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter Blu-Ray will be released in October 2014. May the beloved creatures of Fantastia – those dreams and poetic inventions – continue to live forever in our hearts because that’s where they truly belong.


Photo Credit: Bavaria Filmstudios

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