Thursday, 17 August 2017 13:17

Geeky Parent Guide: A Retrospective on ‘The Neverending Story’

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I remember there were Starburst®. I think it was my first movie experience, although it’s sometimes hard to decipher the earlier years of my childhood now that I have my own children. I remember sitting in the theater – red seats, a darkness that comes with the lower lighting - and feeling excited for being in that giant room. I don’t think I ever realized, quite possibly until right now, that my love of going to the movie theater came from that first experience. The sense of awe from being in such a special place, eating candy, and then the lights dimming. The huge screen came to life, and I was hooked from that point forward.

The Neverending Story is a film that I rewatched over and over as a kid, as often as I could. Perhaps this repetitiveness is the reason I didn’t watch it beyond my earliest teen years. I watched the movie again last night, and that sense of anticipation came back almost immediately. Yes, my intention for watching the film revolves primarily around whether or not I’d want my own kids to watch it at a young age, but I couldn’t help feeling excited listening to the theme song and reliving an adventure I had once called my favorite film.

It’s truly a difficult task to determine what’s age-appropriate for my kids. It’s something I always wonder or second guess about, but, fortunately, I have someone I trust more than anyone else to help with such decisions when my first thought is “I don’t know.” If I watched a film at a certain age, shouldn’t it be okay for my own kids to watch the same movie at the same age? Although that seems like a simple qualifier to determine what kids should watch, we all know that each and every child is different in how they behave and how they respond to others’ behaviors, and so on.

The Neverending Story did not disappoint my initial reaction when watching it as a youngster. It has an inherent ability to transport the viewer onto the screen within the story, as that very point is a key aspect to the storyline itself. If you haven't watched the film, I will emphasize that I will be discussing major components to the film to help give parents an idea on whether they want their children to watch this movie at a younger age.

The film begins with Bastian waking up to a new day, and then sitting at the breakfast table having a serious conversation with his father. Bastian’s mother has died, and the father wants to help his son get through it by finding a way to move on. This opening scene is a major moment for parents to think about – if you haven’t or aren’t ready to have a discussion about potential questions regarding life and death, this would be a movie you’ll want to set aside to watch for another time in the future.

The impact it had on Bastian is described by his father, and it’s a somber moment for the two of them and the viewer. You immediately understand the loss affecting one of the main characters, ultimately leaving you to hope that this “neverending story” will provide some form of solace to move on with his life, somehow. Unfortunately, our main character must face bullying and loneliness before his run-in with a local book shop where he meets a cranky, inquisitive owner who explains about the book he’s reading. His description of the book overwhelms Bastian’s curiosity to the point of stealing it, leaving a note stating the owner will get it back.

After arriving to school late, Bastian hides in the building’s attic and begins to read the “borrowed” book titled after the film itself. For those unfamiliar with this story, the movie is based off a novel, Die unendliche Geschichte (which translates to The Infinite Story), by Michael Ende, originally published in 1979. Bastian spends the day reading this fantasy and soon begins to feel the emotions felt by the characters he’s reading about. The other main character, Atreyu, seeks to save the world of Fantasia from being destroyed by an invisible force, and during his quest, he faces many challenges and epic wonders.

Atreyu, a young boy much like Bastian, is asked to stop “The Nothing” from destroying Fantasia by finding a way to save the dying Empress. His courage highlights something needed in Bastian’s life as he struggles to keep from being thrown into alleyway dumpsters by three bullies. Atreyu also faces similar despair when he must come face to face with losing a close companion along his travels. This tale does give viewers an opportunity to try and understand the importance of being there for friends, never giving up, and coping with loss despite every effort to do the impossible.

Overall, The Neverending Story has several elements that I believe would be too intense for my children at this point (ages three and four). Perhaps in another year or two, this will be a movie I will reassess with my wife and see how mature our children are at that point. The film includes many fantastical characters, with an Alice in Wonderland quality to them – with body-sized heads, multiple-faces, or varying types of creatures that might be too scary for younger children. There is also an inescapable situation that results in the death of a friend and a scene that involves Atreyu killing another character with a sharp rock.

Although I believe there are elements too intense for my children, there are many lovable characters and mystical elements that are fun to watch. Atreyu’s journey to the Southern Oracle highlights massive statues embroidered in gleaming light, which I believe is the reason I love other similar scenes, like ones from Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Another element benefiting a younger audience is the pace of the movie – many of the scenes do not linger too long, leading the viewer from one journey to the next rather quickly.

In addition to a description of the movie, take a look at the movie rating and the definition behind that rating:

The Neverending Story
Rating: PG, Runtime: 1 hour, 34 minutes, Release Year: 1984

PG Rating, via Motion Picture Association of America: “Some Material May Not Be Suitable for Children – Parents urged to give ‘parental guidance.’ May contain some material parents might not like for their young children.”


What is one of your childhood favorite films? Have your kids already seen it? Was it thumbs up or thumbs down for them? Do you still enjoy it? Share your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don’t forget to like this page and share it with all of your neverending, geeky friends.

Next time on the GPG, we’ll share some insight into the tutoring world as summer comes to a close, and dare I say it, a new school year is upon us.

Until then, happy parenting and happy geeking.

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