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NeverEnding Story, The (1984, Barret Oliver, Heinz Reincke)



After the success of Das Boot, Wolfgang Petersen turned his hand to fantasy, with this charming adventure set in this world and another more magical. Bastian (Barret Oliver) has suffered the death of his mother, the coldness of his bereaved father and bullying at school. Taking refuge in a bookshop, he comes across The NeverEnding Story, a magical tome that takes him to the kingdom of Fantasia, which is in peril. The Empress (Tami Stronach) is sickly and sends the young warrior Atreju (Noah Hathaway) to find a cure. But the land is also being consumed by The Nothing, which is generated by nightmares; the cure will save both the Empress and her kingdom. Bastian becomes so engrossed in the book that he is transported to Fantasia and becomes Atreju’s companion in their epic quest…

Germany’s most expensive film at the time, Petersen’s fantasy is a genuine treat, with a flying Luckdragon, a Rock Biter, a racing snail and giant wolves among the creations of special effects wizard Brian Johnson, who’d previously worked for Industrial Light and Magic on Star Wars and Dragonslayer. The story itself is largely allegorical: The Nothing that is consuming Fantasia represents Bastian’s fears and only by confronting it will he grow out of them; but the message doesn’t obscure the delight of the enterprise. Petersen went on to direct such blockbusters as Air Force One, The Perfect Storm and Troy, but this is an equally honourable entry on his cv.

production details
Canada – Germany | 102 minutes | 1984


Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Script: Wolfgang Petersen, Michael Ende, Herman Weigel,

Heinz Reincke as Fuchur (voice)
Moses Gunn as Cairon – Empress’ Servant
Sydney Bromley as Engywook
Patricia Hayes as Urgl
Barret Oliver as Bastian
Gerald McRaney as Bastian’s Father
Noah Hathaway as Atreyu
Drum Garrett as 1st Bully
Darryl Cooksey as 2nd Bully
Nicholas Gilbert as 3rd Bully
Thomas Hill as Carl Conrad Koreander – The Librarian
Frank Lenart as Teeny Weeny (voice)
Silvia Seidel as Fairy
Tami Stronach as The Childlike Empress
Alan Oppenheimer as Rockbiter / Falkor / G’mork / Narrator (voice)
Tilo Prückner as Night Hob
Deep Roy as Teeny Weeny

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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