When it comes to wistful fantasy stories that embody the ‘80’s nostalgia power, The NeverEnding Story is a great example. The back story here, perhaps unsurprisingly, involves a book, but not in the usual way, which makes for a nice little twist.
The NeverEnding Story started life as a German novel written in 1979. An English translation followed in 1983, and the movie was made in 1984. The Germans have a very rich folklore and mythological tradition, but that’s a separate article for another time.
The novel is actually a bit of a doorstopper, so when someone got the bright idea to make a movie, they decided to make three of them. Only the first two actually adapt the novel, but that’s a separate rant for another time. The NeverEnding Story is comprised of the first half of the novel and is widely considered the best of the three.
The story follows a young boy who gets bullied a lot. To deal with the world’s suckage by reading a magical book that eventually sucks him into the role of the main character. So now the kid has to save the magical land become the hero. Saving the cheerleader is optional.
The film is a delightful, lighthearted romp into the imagination and children that represent the child present with all of us who haven’t been crushed by the harsh realities of the modern world. That may sound corny, cheesy, and sappy –just like how I enjoy my breakfast- but that’s the point. This movie is about dreams, magic, and the joys of childhood. It’s meant to be wondrous and corny at the same time, and in my opinion it succeeds delightfully.
Granted, not all the effects have aged well, as puppet technology on larger scales tends to be something of s tricky prospect if your last name isn’t Henson. The overall plot and pacing aren’t exactly the stuff dreamed of in the Golden Age of Hollywood either, but that’s not the point. In fact, that’s part of the point.
The NeverEnding Story is not just a children’s story. It is meant to be a story for the child in all of us, old and young alike. It is a story of good against evil, of the power of imagination. As a result, it resonates and reminds us of our youth, the joys of childhood, and the power of magic and fantasy.
There is of course a touch of nostalgia to such stories, especially if you actually grew up during the 1980’s. For those of us who missed it, like me, we can still appreciate the sentiment. The NeverEnding Story is meant to embody and celebrate the powers of the mind and imagination against the horrors of reality. It is a glorious revelry of the joys of childhood given cinematic form.
The charm of the movie goes beyond the story itself, the plot, or the visual effects. The NeverEnding Story takes those aspects and forms them into a visual representation of the joy of childhood. Even if it’s only for the length of the movie, by watching it we can observe that joy once more, and, hopefully, carry it with us moving forward.