Movie Musings: why The Never-Ending Story is complete and utter nightmare fuel

The Never-Ending Story, based on the equally creepy book of the same name by Michael Ende was, for me, totally epitomised by the opening song. The song, sung by Kajagoogoo frontman Limahl, complete with atrocious mullet haircut, was cheesy and yet also addictively catchy. Much like the movie it opened, I suppose.

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Like a lot of movies for kids from the 80s, the Neverending Story deals with a lot of dark subjects that, frankly, children shouldn’t need to be exposed to when they go to the cinema. Like Labyrinth, which introduced a generation of children to David Bowie’s terrifying crotch, this movie was also responsible for a few nightmares in younger people. It begins very early on for me, with that rock creature (who also rides a rock bike, because why the hell not?), who is clearly supposed to be a a kind and caring creature, but who really isn’t helped by his horrifying appearance. Alright, so perhaps the lesson there is not to judge on appearances, but how then do you explain the scene later when the brave adventurer’s horse, Artax, drowns in the swamps on despair? Honestly, try not to cry over the scene…it’s impossible.

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In order to effectively film this, an actual real life horse was lowered onto a platform, which in turn slowly submerged into the water. In the movie, it is implied the horse just allowed itself to drown, and rumours actually circulated that the horse had indeed died during filming when the device had failed and it had ACTUALLY DROWNED. I don’t believe the stories, though. I think there would’ve been more controversy surrounding the movie if one of its animal stars had perished. So anyway, by this point we’ve already been shown a horse drowning, so its about time something joyous happens. And it does. In the form of Falcor. Falcor the luck dragon.

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He arrives just when Atreyu, our hero, is about to drown, lifting him free from the water. Falcor is a luck dragon, and he resembles a cross between a sausage dog, an old man and some sort of salamander. Now, all of that is fine and Falcor’s white fur makes him look adorable, but then he says and does something which makes me firmly believe he is a pervert. He says the following: “I love children.” That is a little risky, but ultimately fine, until he follows up that statement with a wink- a wink that looks unnatural due to the animatronics of the creature itself. So he essentially says something that would raise suspicion and then does nothing at all to help the situation by doing something equally dodgy immediately afterwards. Fortunately, Falcor never carries out of any his obvious pedophilic tendencies and leaves shortly after to show up again later.

Also in this movie we get to experience a giant, clinically depressed tortoise who Atreyu mistakes as an island due to the huge trees growing on its back. There’s also a racing snail, because this is the 80s and nothing makes sense, and a princess who doesn’t have a name and then, when she is given a name, it turns out to be Moonchild. Bear in mind, all of this happens because, in the real world, a young boy with the fabulous name of Balthazar Bucks starts reading a book and ends up following this story and being responsible for saving the entire world that inhabits it. It is meta of the highest level. After all of this, in a moment that suggests that the story perhaps isn’t completely a story, everyone’s favourite weirdo, Falcor, appears in the real world to be ridden (ahem) by Balthazar as he avenges his bullies with a real life, actual dragon. That also happens to be a sex pest (un-confirmed).

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This movie brings back nostalgic memories for me, although in hindsight, I realise that whilst this movie is a deserving classic, it is also complete and utter nightmare fuel. And don’t get me started on the fact that the story does, in fact, have and end. What a contradictory title.

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