February 17, 2012

The Neverending Story

The Neverending Stoooor-y!  Aa-aa-aah, aa-aa-aah, aa-aa-aah!  Everyone my age knows that song, from the movie of the same name.  I love this movie.  I loved it as a kid, and I love it now.  It was in the rotation of movies that I watched again and again, like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and the Star Wars movies, part of a triumvirate of fantasy movies with The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.

I think this movie hit the mark with me even more because I was and am a big reader.  I know what it's like to get lost in a book.  And if you are a Gen-Xer and say you don't want to ride on Falcor the luck dragon, you are LYING.

It also has the coolest accessory this side of a lightsaber, the Auryn.  Atreyu wears the Auryn on his mission to save Fantasia and its Childlike Empress.  I've never been much into jewelry, but I'd be a happy lady if I had an Auryn. 

It was time I read the book.  I picked up a hardcover edition first published in 1997 which alternates green and black text depending on whether the story is in the real world or in Fantasia.  I found that to be a great effect, and it was helpful in the sequences which quickly switch back and forth between Atreyu and Bastian, the main characters.  The movie covers the first half of the book and sticks pretty close to it.  There are some differences, which is to be expected.  Fantasia in the movie is Fantastica in the book.  In the movie, you pass through two gates to get to the Southern Oracle, and in the book there are three, along with a completely different Southern Oracle.  How Atreyu and Falcor meet is different (and it's Falkor with a "k" in the book).

 I was happily reading, and then I got to the part where Atreyu is introduced with his horse, Artex (or Artax).  I thought, OH, NO.  The scene.  There is a scene in The Neverending Story that I haven't seen for years.  I always fast forward through this scene.  It is the scene where Artex sinks into the Swamps of Sadness.  I suppose in order for Atreyu to be free to ride Falcor, he had to lose the horse along the way, but did he have to die in the Swamps of Sadness??  I started riding horses when I was eleven.  This scene is very upsetting to me.  There was no way to fast forward through it in the book.  To make it worse, Artex can talk in the book, so you get to hear their parting words.

Halfway through the book Fantastica is saved.  The second half of the book is about Bastian in Fantastica.  Atreyu and Falcor are minor characters.  It pains me to say this, but the second half of the book isn't that great.  Bastian is completely unlikeable and becomes more so due to the power of the Auryn.  I understand that the Auryn was influencing him and that this was necessary for the plot, but he started out unbearable and got worse.  He at least should have been sympathetic at first so that you could see the transformation.  From the second he gets to Fantastica he is awful. I did end up liking the book, but I was a bit disappointed.  It felt as if I had read two different books rather than one long story.  I would still recommend reading it, though.


  1. Never read the book but I did love Ende's book Momo. I wish they'd make a movie out of that too.

  2. I stand corrected, there IS a movie version of Momo but it's in German without subtitles.


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