The Nothing and Other Creepy Childhood Things


The Neverending Story (West Germany/USA, 1984)

Seen: repeatedly, but most recently on Friday, 19th December 2008 (on a 1988 released VHS tape - which is how I’ve always watched it *grin*)
Runtime: 90′
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Cast: Barret Oliver, Noah Hathaway, Tami Stronach, Alan Oppenheimer
Production House: Neue Constantin Film, WDR, Warner Bros
Plot: What if you had a book that gradually included you into the story? The story of a boy who reads a book that does just that.

Scenes From The Film
The trailer for this film absolutely sucks, so I settled for two 30 second clips instead *grin*
This is a warm scene between Atreyu and Falcor, the luck dragon. I guess everybody who watched this film as a child remembers Falcor fondly *grin*

And the second scene is a bit eerie. It’s Atreyu getting his first glimpse of Bastian and Bastian finally realizing the book is “sucking him in”:

Impressions In Short
I like the film more and more the older I get. And what surprises me every time I watch it is how creepy I still find it…

Some Details
I must have watched this for the first time when I was about 6 or 7 and at that time I found it very scary.
Judging by the imdb message boards, everyone seems to be freaked out primarily by Gmork - the wolf. I remember being terrified of him as a child too (and I’m still tense when he comes out ;)), but it was the kind of fear that would pass the moment the scene finished.
The scene that always stood out in my mind as the creepiest is the one that introduces Fantasia. It’s when three inhabitants of Fantasia meet in the forest, on their way to seek help from the Empress. One of them has a racing snail - the look of which used to creep me out, but I’m happy to say it no longer does ;) However, it’s the conversation they have that always stays with me long after the film has finished. The rock-biter tells them about the force that is destroying his land - the force they’re all trying to seek help about. He tells them of a lake in his land that disappeared. Did it dry up? No, it’s just no longer there. So what is left of it? Nothing. When he says “nothing”, does he mean a hole, some sort of space? No, a hole would be something. Nothing is left.
For me “The Nothing” is one of the freakiest fictional ideas ever. Of course they’re unable to portray “nothing” as “nothing” on film, which kind of spoils it (I want to read the novel *grin*), but even so - the idea itself is so freaky it stays with me.
Aside from all my gushing about its creepiness, it’s also a really well-made film.
There’s a kind of “rawness” about the film. I felt similarly about Rambo actually, so maybe this is an 80s thing ;) They’re kind of so to the point and almost abrupt about how they tell the story.
All the children in the film are great. I’m amazed by the “Child-like Empress” - how on Earth they found an 11-year old girl who suited the part *that* well will always be a mystery to me *grin* But both the boys are awesome too.
The voice behind Falcor, the luck dragon is great and a major reason why I think everyone remembers Falcor so fondly. I’m shocked to learn that the same guy did the voice of Gmork, the wolf *grin* (also done extremely well)
Interestingly enough, none of the children stayed in acting. The girl has made a career in modern dancing. The boy who played Bastian, did stay in acting for a few years and then just quit all of a sudden and presently does photography. The boy who played Atreyu seems to have been doing a variety of things, including occasional comebacks to acting, but he’s also done some dancing and martial arts

Yes! Strangely enough, this film ages very well. It doesn’t matter that nowadays the special effects would be much better. The ones in the film are perfectly appropriate.
I guess people who completely don’t get the fantasy genre might not like it or maybe people who know and like the book (I haven’t read it, but apparently its author felt the film was so far away from his vision that he didn’t want to be associated with it), but otherwise I think this is a film for everyone :)

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