A young boy escapes from his regular bullies by diving into a bookshop. There the shopkeeper introduces him to an ancient storybook which he suspects is dangerous, and sure enough as Bastian begins to read he is magically transported to the land of Fantasia, a world in need of a hero.
A rigorous enough, if rather dated, version of a best-selling German fantasy fable, whose imprecise arcana involves such vague propositions as the blight of “Nothingess” and the power of “faith”. A rather hippish quality, that alludes to the possibility it might all be a dream. Kids tend to want this kind of thing to be certain of its own imagination. As Bastian (a bland Barret Oliver) reads is it into his bully-tormented mind we are journeying or into some extra-dimension ruled by juvenile royalty?
The structure, borrowed from such classics as Alice In Wonderland and Peter Pan, is the story within a story, the framing reality around a fairy-tale. The exotic denizens of the pointedly named Fantasia are a Muppet-styled crew of stone giants, white furred dragon-dogs and a cute-little fellow who rides a giant, speedy snail, which favour cuddly over convincing.
Wolfgang Peterson, usually such a fierce director, isn’t at home here, he keeps it trippy and loose, plenty of dream images, when to make this kind of thing work you need conviction. For all the art direction, it’s drifty and limp compared to say Labyrinth, which follows a similar notion. Tots will like its triumph of the little-man overture, and those swooping flights atop the floppy dragon, but older kids will miss the ironclad muscle we might have expected from the director of Das Boot doing Das Dwarf. Two ignominious sequels followed, but alas the Nothingess was still thwarted.
This was sweet and charming at the time but now it just lacks either the comedy or sophistication of kids' fantasy film that we've all become accustomed to.
Reviewed by Ian Nathan
|Empire you're so wrong about this one|
This film is truly breathtaking in its scope, story and production design.
But more importantly, I have showed this to children at movie screenings over the past ten years and every generation of 6-10 year olds that see it are enthralled by it. It is harrowing (Artax) and frightening (Gamorg) but magical and inspiring too. This will stand the test of time as proven by successful screenings (in the UK) more than thirty years on! ... More
Posted by tjhyman at 21:28, 31 March 2015 | Report This Post
|It is dated, yes, but it is still a classic!|
Considering how we have CGI instead of puppets as special effects now, the film may look quite dated now. Imagination is a very happy thing, and this film teaches us that we need to keep dreaming. If you are into nostalgic fantasy (THIS, H.R.Pufnstuf, etc), you will probably enjoy this! (4/5) ... More
Posted by SebMModerns at 19:41, 31 January 2013 | Report This Post
|Likeable but dated eighties kids film|
Although tarnished by age, the Never-Ending story is an excellant trip into childhood fantasy nostalga. As Empire has said, these type of films are much smarter these days which doesnt help. However you cant help but admire the old school eighties production and effects. This isnt so much a film that can compete with todays releases but must be enjoyed as a product of its time. ... More
Posted by trainedasninja at 18:11, 19 September 2011 | Report This Post
|Not as I remembered!|
Watched this movie yesterday on Blu-Ray. I have to say I agree with Empire. Not as great as I remembered. If I'm honest, a bit dull. Some things are best left in the mind and kept as fond childhood memories! ... More
Posted by fraser1978 at 10:18, 07 February 2011 | Report This Post
Absolutely has something classical! Music and creatures of Fantasia are both really cool!!
Though it's already more than 20 years old it's still enjoyable. ... More
Posted by FanaticalAboutFilm at 14:46, 06 November 2009 | Report This Post
This film does something that hardly any film has done either before or after, and that is the death of the lovable character (i.e. Mufasa, or Bambi's mother). Not to give anything away but this scene is a huge tear jerker for little kids and this is what is needed nowadays! Cotton wrapped modern kids fantasies never have anything that question morals, kids really are more clever than they are given credit for.
The music score is iconic, it was even parodied in Family Guy, meaning it must hav... More
Posted by olixander at 21:41, 01 October 2008 | Report This Post
|Brilliant...pure surreal fantasy|
I agree with claudemg. Where's your childhood, Empire? Wake up! This film is a gem of filmmaking, and should be treated as one ... More
Posted by blaud at 13:18, 25 February 2008 | Report This Post
|Empire needs to retrieve its childhood|
This film brings back so many memories for me its easy to speak of bias. Objectively though, this fantasy film from the eighties is as good as they come - well untill LOTR came. The music score alone elevates this to a 3 star. 2 stars???? Empire did u have a toothache when u reviewed this? you gave Princess Bride a 5 star review and i kinda saw where u were coming from - kinda. but this film deserves the 5 stars surely! ... More
Posted by claudemg at 23:14, 28 August 2006 | Report This Post