The NeverEnding Story is a 1984 epic fantasy film based on the novel of the same name by Michael Ende, about a boy in our world who reads a magical book that tells a story of a young warrior whose task is to stop a dark force called the Nothing from engulfing a mystical world. The film was produced by Bernd Eichinger and Dieter Giessler and directed and co-written by Wolfgang Petersen (his first English-language film) and starred Noah Hathaway, Barret Oliver, Tami Stronach, Patricia Hayes, Sydney Bromley, Gerald McRaney, Moses Gunn, and Alan Oppenheimer as the voices of both Falkor and Gmork (as well as other characters). At the time of its release, it was the most expensive film produced outside the United States or the Soviet Union. The film was the first in The NeverEnding Story film series and later followed by two sequels.
Bastian Balthazar Bux is a shy and outcast bibliophile ten-year-old raised by his widowed father, teased by bullies from school. On his way to school, he hides from the bullies in a bookstore, interrupting the grumpy bookseller, Mr. Coreander. Bastian asks about one of the books he sees, but Mr. Coreander advises against it. With his curiosity piqued, Bastian seizes the book, leaving a note promising to return it, and hides in the school's attic to read.
The book describes the fantasy world of Fantasia slowly being devoured by a malevolent force called "The Nothing". Fantasia's ruler, the Childlike Empress, has fallen ill, and Atreyu is tasked to discover the cure, believing that once the Empress is well, the Nothing will no longer be a threat. Atreyu is given a medallion named the AURYN that can guide and protect him in the quest. As Atreyu sets out, the Nothing summons Gmork, a vicious and highly intelligent wolf-like creature, to kill Atreyu.
Atreyu's quest directs him to the adviser Morla the Ancient One in the Swamps of Sadness. Though the Auryn protects Atreyu, his beloved horse Artax is lost to the swamp, and he continues alone. Later, Atreyu is surprised by the sudden appearance of Morla, a giant turtle. Bastian, reading, is also surprised and lets out a scream, which Atreyu and Morla appear to hear. Morla does not have the answers Atreyu seeks, but directs him to the Southern Oracle, ten thousand miles distant. Atreyu succumbs to exhaustion trying to escape the Swamps but is saved by the luckdragon Falkor. Falkor takes him to the home of two gnomes that live near the entrance to the Southern Oracle. The gnomes explain that Atreyu will face various trials before reaching the Oracle. Atreyu proceeds to enter the Oracle, and is perplexed when one second trial, a mirror that shows the viewer's true self, reveals a boy which Bastian recognizes as himself. Bastian throws the book aside, but after catching his breath, continues to read. Atreyu eventually meets the Southern Oracle who tells him the only way to save the Empress is to find a human child to give her a new name, beyond the boundaries of Fantasia.
Atreyu and Falkor flee before the Nothing consumes the Southern Oracle. In flight, Atreyu is knocked from Falkor's back into the Sea of Possibilities, losing the Auryn in the process. He wakes on the shore of the abandoned ruins, where he meets Rock Biter, who laments the loss of his friends. Atreyu finds a series of paintings depicting his quest. Gmork reveals himself, having been lying in wait and explains that Fantasia represents humanity's imagination, and that the Nothing represents adult apathy and cynicism against it. Atreyu fends off and kills Gmork as the Nothing begins to consume the ruins. Falkor, who had managed to locate the Auryn, rescues Atreyu in time. The two find themselves in a void with only small fragments of Fantasia remaining, and fear they have failed when they spot the Empress's Ivory Tower among the fragments. Inside, Atreyu apologizes for failing the Empress, but she assures him he has succeeded in bringing to her a human child who has been following his quest: Bastian. She further explains that, just as Bastian is following Atreyu's story, "others" are following Bastian's, making this part of the neverending story. As the Nothing begins to consume the Tower, the Empress pleads directly to Bastian to call out her new name, but in amazement that he himself has been incorporated into the story as the child they were looking for, he denies the events as just being a story and Atreyu dies. Bastian runs to the window and calls out the name he had selected into the storm (Moonchild), and loses consciousness.
When he wakes, he finds himself in blackness with the Empress, with only a grain of sand, the last bit of Fantasia remaining. The Empress tells Bastian that he has the power to bring Fantasia back with his imagination. Bastian re-creates Fantasia, and as he flies on Falkor's back, he sees the land and its inhabitants restored, and that Atreyu has been reunited with Artax. When Falkor asks what his next wish will be, Bastian then brings Falkor back to the real world to chase down the bullies from before. The film ends with the narration that Bastian had many more wishes and adventures, and adds: "but that's another story".
- Barret Oliver as Bastian Balthazar Bux.
- Noah Hathaway as Atreyu.
- Tami Stronach as The Childlike Empress, to whom Bastian gives the new name of "Moon Child".
- Patricia Hayes as Urgl, Engywook's wife and a healer.
- Sydney Bromley as Engywook, a gnomish scientist.
- Gerald McRaney as Mr. Bux, Bastian's widowed, workaholic father.
- Moses Gunn as Cairon, a servant of the Empress.
- Alan Oppenheimer as the voices of Falkor, Gmork, Rock Biter, and the Narrator (the latter three are uncredited).
- Thomas Hill as Mr. Coreander, a grumpy bookseller.
- Deep Roy as Teeny Weeny, a messenger riding on a racing snail.
- Tilo Prückner as Nighthob, a messenger riding a narcoleptic bat.
- Darryl Cooksey, Drum Garrett, and Nicholas Gilbert as Ethan, Todd, and Lucas, three bullies who torment Bastian.
- Wikipedia, Editing The NeverEnding Story (film)