Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Neverending Story, The

A series of three (so far) movies.

1. The Neverending Story (vt Die Unendliche Geschichte) US/German movie (1984). Warner/Producers Sales Organization/Bavaria Studios/WDR/Neue Constantin Filmproduktion. Pr Bernd Eichinger, Dieter Geissler. Exec pr Mark Damon, John Hyde. Dir Wolfgang Petersen. Spfx/vfx Brian Johnson. Screenplay Petersen, Herman Weigel. Based on The Neverending Story (1979) by Michael Ende. Starring Sydney Bromley (Engywook), Moses Gunn (Cairon), Noah Hathaway (Atreyu), Thomas Hill (Bookseller), Barret Oliver (Bastian), Alan Oppenheimer (Falkor's voice), Patricia Hayes (Urgl), Tami Stronach (Childlike Empress). 94 mins. Colour.

Young, bullied Bastian "borrows" from an antiquarian bookshop a book called The Neverending Story, which he takes to school and, cutting classes, reads in the attic. It tells of the Secondary World of Fantastica (the world of human fantasies, we later learn), currently being devoured by the Nothing (human loss of hope and dreams); its Childlike Empress is dying for want of ... for want of no one knows what. But there is a warrior, Atreyu, who can battle the Nothing if anyone can; when he appears, he proves to be a (very feminine) boy of Bastian's age. Atreyu has assorted adventures with various expectable fantasy folk and Monsters before finally, Fantastica now almost entirely destroyed, the Childlike Empress herself tells him the only hope for the empire is that Bastian, the reader, be called in. His initially disbelieving intervention regenerates Fantastica.

TNS has two plots, one of which serves only as a basis for the other, which is the important one. The inner tale, of Atreyu's Quest across Fantastica, is not of great interest: Fantastica is reduced to merely another Fantasyland. The real plot, framing and periodically interrupting the lesser one, concerns the interrelation between reader and Story, and the way in which the story writes itself. This is pointed up early, when the Bookseller tells Bastian: "Your books are safe. By reading them, you get to become Tarzan, or Robinson Crusoe. ... Ah, but afterwards you get to be a little boy again." But The Neverending Story – the book Bastian filches – is not "safe": it is a real book. [JG]

2. The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter US/German movie (1990). Warner/Soriba & Dehle. Pr Dieter Geissler. Dir George Miller. Creature fx Colin Arthur. Screenplay Karin Howard. Starring Jonathan Brandis, Clarissa Burt, Alexandra Johnes, Kenny Morrison. 89 mins. Colour.

This sees a return to Fantastica and a rehash of its predecessor's less interesting material. Lacking any proper plot, the movie is rather like a dull travelogue of Fantasyland. [JG]

3. The Neverending Story III German/US movie (1994). Warner/CineVoz Filmproduktion/Babelsberg. Pr Dieter Geissler, Tim Hampton. Dir Peter Macdonald. Animatronics Jim Henson's Creature Workshop. Screenplay Jeff Lieberman. Starring Ryan Bellman, Jason Jack Black, Carole Finn, Melody Kay, James Richter. 95 mins. Colour.

Bastian goes back to Fantastica, now being torn apart under the attack of a vile Nastiness. He discovers from the Empress that, to help, he and his old Companions must battle with the Nasties in our Reality. Complications include misuse of a Magic necklace that grants Wishes. In the end Evil is thwarted and order restored. [JG]

see also: The Dark Crystal (1982); The Princess Bride (1987).

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.