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The NeverEnding Story (fantasy)

movie poster West German director Wolfgang Petersen's first English-language movie was this surprise hit starring Noah Hathaway as a kid who decides to read "The NeverEnding Story" in the attic on a rainy day. He finds himself in the land of Fantasia (no relation to the Disney movie), actually another planet. A princess and some fanciful creatures are facing extinction by The Nothing, a black void that is swallowing everything. Unable to stop The Nothing, he escapes on a furry flying dragon with the head of a friendly shaggy dog, but can return anytime - by reading the book again. This is one fantasy that won't put you to sleep while entertaining the kids. Not animation, entire movie is live-action. If Howard The Duck had been this good there might have been a sequel Duck.

Gerald MacRaney has a supporting role as the Dad, but most of the movie takes place in Fantasia. Voices include Alan Oppenheimer. Leonard Maltin gives it 3 stars.

NeverEnding Story 2 (1990)

Director George Miller (The Road Warrior, Mad Max, Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome) made this sequel with an all-new cast. But the director who introduced Mad Max to the world isn't as good at fantasy magic. "NeverEnding II" did ok business, but it would be years before a third chapter. Leonard Maltin calls it "poky and cheesy, though kids might take to some of the animal sidekicks."

NeverEnding Story 3: Escape From Fantasia

The boy Bastian (Jason James Richter), now nearing puberty, is being bullied by a schoolyard gang called the Nasties. He decides to seek refuge in The NeverEnding Story and borrows it from the library, but the Nasties steal it. So now it's up to Bastian to return it. Unfortunately, this puts too much of the movie in the "real world" instead of the fantasy world of the first movie. Completely different cast and director from previous movies. No more sequels so far, though little Jason James Richter would go on to star in all 3 "Free Willy" movies (he was 12 in the first one and 17 in the third, though I think Star Trek 4 had more entertaining whales). They had to change the title for showings in England, where "willy" is slang for an intimate part of the female anatomy.

Trivia courtesy the Internet Movie DataBase

* Author Michael Ende decided that he was unhappy with the film's version of his story, and refused to have his name placed in the opening credits. A small credit appears at the end with his name.

* The nighthob says a profanity in the opening scene where the rockbiter appears running down all in its path. This profanity is often dubbed over by the grumble of the rockbiter's scooter, so that it can be shown as a children's film

* The film was partly shot in Germany in the summer of 1983. It was Germany's hottest summer in 25 years

* The original Auryn for this film now hangs in an enclosed glass display in Steven Spielberg's office

* Was the most expensive film ever produced in Germany at the time it was made
* Noah Hathaway was hurt twice during the making of the movie. During his horse riding training he was thrown off a horse which then stepped on him. Then during the shooting of the drowning sequence in the "swamp of sadness" his leg got caught on the elevator and he was pulled under water. He was unconscious by the time he was brought to the surface

* "The Childlike Empress" wasn't just child-"like". She was portrayed by Iranian born dancer Tami Stronach who was only 11 years old when the production started

* The film itself actually "ends" about halfway through the book.
The name of the mystical land in the original novel was Fantastica, not Fantasia, but the original German name Phantįsien translates more accurately into English as Fantasia.
The theme song was sang by Limahl, who was the lead singer of the pop band Kajagoogoo.

* The makeup team on the movie tried to paint Noah Hathaway green, just as Atreyu is in the book. "It wasn't believeable. I looked like fungi!" Hathaway said.

* Noah Hathaway almost lost an eye during the fight-scene versus Gmork. One of the claws on his giant paws poked him in the face. The robot was also so heavy that he lost his breath as well when he was hit to the ground by it. They only made one shot due to the risk that he would get seriously wounded.

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© Bill Laidlaw. All Rights Reserved. That's my 2½¢ worth