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Bastian (Barrett Oliver) is a young boy struggling to come to terms with the death of his mother. Using his imagination to cope with his mourning, day-dreaming Bastian is seen as an outsider and, one morning, chased by a gang of bully school kids, he stumbles across an old bookshop where he finds a mysterious old book. Locking himself in the school's attic, Bastian begins to read an amazing story about the quest of a young warrior to save the doomed mythical land of Fantasia which is being destroyed by a strange force known as the Nothing. Drawn into the magical land, Bastian realises he has the power to save the fragile, magical world, but his own insecurities risk its very survival.

Review by Craig Miller:
Larger-than-life visual effects, whimsical dream-like fantasy sequences, none too subtle moral messages and a painfully addictive title track (which makes full use of mainstream 1980s electronica), The Never Ending Story is one of those '80s fun family adventures that make looking back on mainstream fantasy pictures of the time so damned enjoyable.

If you missed the phenomenon the first time around, dodged the two incredibly awful sequels, the short-lived TV show and the animated adventure series, or you have simply just forgotten about this wonderfully enchanting adventure, then now's the time. The world of Fantasia needs you to truly believe! (Disclaimer: There actually is no fantasy world of Fantasia.)

The Never Ending Story is more akin to the family movies of recent years than it is to those of the 1980s, as it has genuine appeal to both children and adults alike. Actually, it would not be surprising if adults got more from The Never Ending Story's philosophies and relatable belief system than kids will get from the many dated effects and at times crude puppetry.

The mythical land of Fantasia is a world of human fantasy, created by the dreams of mankind - in this case those of Bastian, a young man dealing with a great personal loss. Ruled over by a beautiful Empress, the land is gradually being destroyed by a great Nothing. This is a wonderful metaphor for the imagination of the young Bastian who is losing his identity and sense of wonderment in his own world, controlled by his tough-love father and the anxieties of fitting in with his own peers. The great Nothing, or what is essentially a great despair, is seen to be destroying his own imagination, like it is the destroying the landscape of Fantasia, as he is forced to confront his own feelings about the death of his mother and his place in the real world.

Although much of the film takes place in Fantasia, director Wolfgang Petersen has developed the magical land in such a way that the strong human ideals and moral dilemmas shine through to be a mirror image of our own lives within a completely fictitious place. The powerful themes he explores (faith, fear, trust, belief) sit perfectly amid the backdrop of his fantasy-filled landscapes and cleverly conceived creature characters.

The 'story within a story' construction on which The Never Ending Story relies so heavily keeps Petersen's concepts daring and fresh, making it still a wonderfully magical experience. He not only brings to life such a colourful, imaginative world, but also forces you to believe in the power of this enchanting world as well as the power of our own hopes and dreams.

Published November 18, 2004

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(Germany/US, 1984)

CAST: Noah Hathaway, Barrett Oliver, Tami Stronach, Patricia Hayes, Sydney Bromley

DIRECTOR: Wolfgang Petersen

SCRIPT: Wolfgang Petersen, based on a novel by Michael Ende

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen 2.35:1, 16:9 enhanced, Dolby 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1


DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Ent

DVD RELEASE: November 11, 2004

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