Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Neverending Story

The Neverending StoryThe Neverending Story, can we consider this one a classic? Written in 1979 by Michael Ende, it became an instant classic and the inspiration for three movies - one remembered as excellent and two with dubious results. I also found out, with a little research, that there was a short lived TV or Mini-series based on the book. From the reviews, it seemed best to stay very far away from that one. If you're interested in the movie, go ahead and click on this The Neverending Story [Blu-ray] link(Yes, I have a Blu-Ray player and use the power of my will to force readers to purchase one as well... you need it!). But, if you want to see a movie with an actor that committed suicide later in life click on this The NeverEnding Story / The NeverEnding Story II link. The sequel was one of the creepiest movies that I saw as a child. The actor, Jonathan Brandis, has really freaky eyes! But I've talked about that already - HERE.

Back to the book, The Neverending Story is about a child whose attempt to hide from the school bullies sends him on a journey through the alternate world of Fantastica. Bastian, the boy, steals a book out of the shop that he hid himself in and then hides up in the school attic. As he starts reading, the world seems magically alive and in dire need of help. I'm sure that everyone has seen the movie, so why give you the entire plot?

For those that have seen the movie and not read the book, let's just say the movie really takes place in about the first 120 pages of the novel. The rest of the Neverending story is a continuation of where the movie sort of left off. I guess you have to take certain liberties to create a movie from a book. For instance, Atreyu happens to be a green human-like creature and not just a tanned boy! I did learn that I've been spelling Falkor wrong all this time. My first and only cat was named Falcore, after the luckdragon in the movie. After 20+ years it's good to know that I had it wrong all this time.

But what a book! It's a little lengthy at points, but the story flows well. Think Arabian Nights meets Aesop's Fables meets Grimm's Fairy Tales. It's an adventure through one world with many themes. That happens to be the point of Fantastica - dreams of the human world make up the realm of Fantastica. It's not as dark as Grimm's, but there are some points that are eerie, some that are sad, and some that are life lessons (e.g. Aesop's Fables). It definitely reminded me of my childhood, but I would recommend to all ages. I'll be watching the movie soon to see how much they actually got right.

Rating: 7.5 CBs - I won't be reading it again soon, but it was a good novel to add to the list. I got the Penguin version of the paperback and like the look just a little more than the image on top. It also doesn't appear that Ende wrote a sequel to The Neverending Story or, if he did, it was never translated from the original German. And it's tough to write a review without giving the story and most of my opinions.... that are based on the differences between the book and the movie, or major plot points. =\



  1. This was one of my favorite movies growing up. I think I drove my mom insane watching it over and over again. I had no idea it was a book! I think I would have to add this book to my list just for old times sake. Thanks for the review.
    Marcie from To Read or Not To Read

  2. I have great affection for the film, the bit where the horse gets stuck in the mud has made me cry a few times over the years. Im always worried the book would spoil the film or me though (normally its the other way around.)

  3. Curator D – Thanks for this great post. To address your points - the book is self-contained i.e. there was no sequel written by Michael Ende in German. However, some authors were commissioned to write some more stories based on the world of Fantasia in TNES. These are only available in German, though:

    Also, in the TNES film they did intend to make Atreyu’s skin green like in the book, however, when they applied the skin colouring, the actor, Noah Hathaway, said that it looked like mould and they abandoned the idea!

    Jessica - What a book indeed! I have fond memories of the film from when I was a kid, but when I read the book as an adult it was a revelation. There is no chance of the book spoiling the film!

    It is quite interesting that many people, in the English speaking world anyway, encountered TNES as a film. Actually, quite a few people don’t even know it was a book. One of the reasons is that the film was very popular and tended to overshadow the book, which was a translation. Another reason was that Michael Ende, the author of The Neverending Story, refused to be associated with the film project, because it departed too radically (in his view) from his story. Although I totally enjoy the film, I am quite sympathetic to his view.

    While the first TNES film covers close to half the book, the second and third films are not really related to the book at all. The second film much inferior to the first film. Although I haven’t seen the third film, the responses I’ve read about it make it sound like a travesty.

    On the surface it is an adventure story, and that’s how it would seem for the first half. It is a thrilling adventure story, as it is a probing metafiction. It is, however, when Bastian enters Fantasia, in the second half of the novel, that the novel becomes most extraordinary. Bastian becomes seemingly all-powerful and able to do as he wishes. However, there is a price to be paid for the fulfilment of Bastian’s wants – the gradual loss of his memories. Before he loses his memory entirely, and thus any chance of returning to his own world, he needs to confront what he really wishes (in the deepest meaning of the word). It is a perilous and frightening journey.

    There is a resonance and depth of ideas that grows on me the more I read TNES. It explores the nature of stories (versus lies), the need to find one’s true path in life and contentment with oneself, the importance of reading and the imagination, how stories affect their readers, and the power of love. Of course, ideas are not enough, it is still a rollicking and dangerous adventure too.

    If you like TNES, I would also recommend reading another Michael Ende’s masterpieces translated into English. It is a fable-like story called Momo, and it is very prescient about the modern madness of rushing, and how we best use our time. It also has some very pointed remarks about consumerism and how we use that to give us momentary thrills and distract ourselves from living life fully. It is an ode to the power of patience and listening, and the beauty of the unleashed imagination. The girl at the heart of the story, Momo, is one of my favourite characters.

    Finally there’s a possible remake of the TNES film in 2012! See here:

    Sorry for the overlong comment - perhaps an email would have been more sensible, but I couldn't find one.