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Facts About The Classic Movie The NeverEnding Story  

There are endless differing opinions about the classic movie The NeverEnding Story. Some think it didn’t stay true to the book on which it was based. Others feel it didn’t convey enough creativity and imagination. And still others thought it was pure magic.

In The NeverEnding Story, Bastian, played by Barrett Oliver, steals a book and begins reading it in one of the scariest rooms in his school. While he reads, the movie  audience begins to simultaneously experience the story, while at the same time the story characters become aware of Bastian’s involvement in the plotline.

In a nutshell, the story focuses on a force called The Nothing, which is determined to destroy a place called Fantasia because its inhabitants aren’t reading enough fiction, resulting in a lessening of imagination. Additionally, the Empress of Fantasia is suffering from an unidentified sickness, and her diminished capacity has put the entire world of Fantasia in peril.


All Creatures Great And Small

All the creatures featured in the movie were individually constructed and animated mechanically, as CGI had not yet become a moviemaking staple, as it is today. Falkor the luckdragon evolved from a rubber-jointed mini model into a 43-foot-long motorized creature covered with pink feather fur and more than 6,000 plastic scales.

Falkor’s flying episodes required attaching the creature’s head and neck to a forklift motor rising about 20 feet off the ground. Noah Hathaway, who played Atreyu, likened riding Falkor to sitting atop a bucking bronco. Moving Falkor into different positions called for approximately 15 people, who were hiding beneath the gargantuan costume, to pull a collection of strings, each of which moved a different part of the creature.


Talk About Imagination…

Alan Oppenheimer gave voice to Falkor, infusing the character with warmth, depth, and just the slightest bit of gravitas. As a result of his success in voicing Falkor, the movie’s director asked him to also record the voices of the narrator, Rockbiter, and Gmork.

Two live horses were used for the role of Artax, which allowed for alternating the animals throughout the filming. Although there is a scene in the movie where the horse dies, neither of the two animals actually perished during filming. By today’s standards, however, their training for the film, and especially the death scene where they were mired in mud up to their heads, might raise concern among animal welfare advocates who oversee the treatment of animals on movie sets.


The Author Was Not Impressed

The NeverEnding Story, directed by Wolfgang Petersen, was made in Germany and ultimately became the most expensive German film ever made. Most of the dialogue was spoken in German and was later dubbed over in English. In the final edits of the film, some differences can be detected between the German and American versions. For example, the music score differs in the two movies, and Steven Spielberg cut about seven minutes from the German version  when making edits for the American movie.


The author of the book, Michael Ende, made it clear he didn’t like the movie and felt it took many liberties with the original story, including making Falkor, the luckdragon, look like a dog. He requested that the film have a different title than that of the book (his request was denied), and he ensured his own name was removed from the opening credits.

The original film covered only the first half of the book; a follow-up film released six years later addressed the second half. No one who worked on the original movie was involved in the sequel, which was a box office bomb. The original, however, continues to live on in   pop culture, having been featured, or at least mentioned, in several TV series, including Family Guy. For some, the lure of the movie’s enchanting storytelling will certainly never end.