- The NeverEnding Story remains untouched by Hollywood remakes or modern sequels, possibly due to rights issues and the film’s enduring popularity among fans.
- The film’s practical effects and dark, imaginative storytelling set it apart from modern children’s movies, making it a beloved classic.
- Despite changes in the fantasy genre, The NeverEnding Story still holds up today for viewers who appreciate its unique and impactful storytelling, showcasing that not every film has to be sweet and soft.
For many, childhood was marked by a specific set of films. These films were often darker than today’s children’s movies and contained puppets and animatronics that actors could interact with. But some have been remade or have had modern sequels created to try and grab onto their decades-old hype. But not The NeverEnding Story.
The NeverEnding Story told a fantastic tale and brought both laughs and tears. Yet all these years later, nobody has attempted to remake it. Or have they? Let’s look at this beloved film, how it has evaded the Hollywood remake machine, and if it can do so for much longer.
The NeverEnding Story Features a Rich Fantasy World
The NeverEnding Story was released in 1984 and is based on a book of the same name. It is a story within a story (thus, never-ending) that follows a sad boy named Bastian Bux (Baret Oliver) who has lost his mother and whose school life is filled with bullies. When he steals a book called The NeverEnding Story, he is drawn into it and the tale it has to tell. Bastian reads the book in his school’s attic and is often taken out of the main story to see his reactions.
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The story he is reading is about a world called Fantasia. The world is full of rich fantasy elements, but it is being devoured by The Nothing, an evil and all-encompassing force that threatens to destroy Fantasia. The world is led by the Childlike Empress (Tami Stronach), who has fallen ill, and the young warrior, Atreyu (Noah Hathaway), who sets out on a quest to find a cure. As the story progresses, Bastian becomes more involved, cheering on the characters and becoming drawn into the story itself.
Along the way, Atreyu runs into many characters, including giant turtles, a creature made entirely of rocks, and a man on a racing snail. He also befriends and is saved by Falkor, one of the most notable characters from the film. Falkor is a luckdragon. His white serpentine body has what looks like the face of a friendly dog. Atreyu rides Falkor through the sky, and they eventually battle The Nothing with Bastian’s help. His assistance saves the princess and pushes back The Nothing to give the world new life.
The NeverEnding Story Is Beloved and Somewhat Untouched
The NeverEnding Story spawned two sequels with different actors meant to continue the story of Bastian and Atreyu. Unfortunately, they did not do as well as the original. There was also a one-season animated television show that aired from 1995-1996. However, the original film has never been remade.
There are several reasons for this. One of them could be a simple rights issue. Though Warner Bros. created the original film, there has been fan speculation about various companies, including Netflix and Disney, attempting to purchase the rights. However, these rumors have never been substantiated and are often proven to be false. Currently, Warner Bros. has shown no signs of wanting to remake the film. Also, should they decide to do so, they may have something else to contend with.
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Most of the fans of the original continue to love it because they can point to a pre-CGI “masterpiece” that used practical effects to bring fantasy and imagination to the big screen. This was also a time when films such as Labyrinth (1986), The Dark Crystal (1982), and Willow (1988) were the go-to fantasy films of the day. These films were dark, scary stories that entranced and frightened children in a way that modern children’s films do not. However, we have seen the recent sequels of both The Dark Crystal and Willow, and they each fared the same. People were simply not interested.
So, perhaps the purity of the concept keeps it safe. Maybe it is the financial straights that Warner Bros. Discovery has found itself in. Either way, it seems like The NeverEnding Story will remain safe for now.
The NeverEnding Story Holds Up Today
The fantasy genre has grown and shifted since the 1980s. People have been drawn into the fantasy elements of superheroes and their epic costumes and battles. People seem to think that fantasy worlds are all Lord of the Rings knockoffs and are reticent to care.
But The NeverEnding Story holds up for those who choose to rewatch it. Many people show their children the film as proof of how films used to be. They realize that not everything has to be sweet and soft and that sometimes, characters are allowed to die. The NeverEnding Story taught many people this lesson, and some viewers never forgot. Artax’s death in the swamp of sadness is something that many people never forgave the filmmakers for.
But audiences took that lesson and realized what it meant in terms of their friendships. Parents allowed their children to see this movie so that they could learn from it. Films have changed, and unless someone could find out how to remake the movie with all of its heart and muddy grime, it would probably bomb at the box office.
Maybe we’ll see it someday on Max or another platform, but for now, The NeverEnding Story is safe and sound just as it is.