Die unendliche Geschichte [The NeverEnding Story] (1984)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Die unendliche Geschichte</strong> [<strong class="MovieTitle">The NeverEnding Story</strong>] (1984)

(On TV, February 2019) We’re more now than a decade into an era where fantasy movies have become commodified into meaninglessness. Everything is possible with CGI and dozens of films over the past few years have offered fantastic visions on-screen that have been consumed and forgotten shortly afterward—nothing is special any more. In that context, watching 1984 big-budget fantasy film The NeverEnding Story is interesting: the special effects are creaky, used sparingly and the film seems amazed that it can pull them off in the first place. Alas, this veteran fantasy adventure hasn’t aged particularly well along the way—from a purely narrative perspective, the film’s few good ideas are strung along an exhausting hero’s journey where it’s just one adventure after another until we get to the point of the film and its conclusion. There are, to be fair, some very ambitious moments along the way: the film doesn’t hold back on what it tries to do with its imaginary world, and there’s a lot of fantastic material in here. I liked aspects of the ending quite a bit, but the film doesn’t quite go all the way with them (possibly because it only adapted the first half of the original novel). Alas, The NeverEnding Story can be too dull to be entertaining: at times, it starts to feel like an obstacle course until the end. I’m not sure if the film has simply been outclassed by wilder fantasy movies or if it was dull to begin with, but it’s obvious that the film simply doesn’t play the same way today as it did back then.

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