THE NEVERENDING STORY
(HBO, December 2, 1995-May 25, 1996)
CineVox Filmproduktion GmbH, Ellipse Programme, Nelvana Limited, HIT Entertainment
Christopher Bell – Bastian Balthazar Bux
Lisa Jai (as Lisa Yamanaka) – The Childlike Empress, Junior Rockbiter
Chris Wiggins – Mr. Correander
Geoffrey Bowes – Barney Bux
Janet-Laine Green – Xayide
Don Francks – Gmork/The Nothing
The Neverending Story (Die unendliche Geschichte) is a 1979 fantasy novel written by German author Michael Ende. The book follows Bastian Balthazar Bux, an overweight and strange boy who felt neglected by his father after his mother died. He escapes some bullies by hiding in Carl Conrad Coreander’s bookstore where he finds a copy of The Neverending Story. He becomes so interested in it that he steals it and hides out in his school to read it. The book is set in Fantastica, a magical place of wonder, ruled by the benevolent Childlike Empress. A formless entity known as The Nothing threatens the kingdom and her people come to her for help, but are informed she’s dying. A green-skinned boy warrior named Atreyu is summoned to quest for a cure to help her. It turns out the Empress’ salvation came from Bastian himself, who cured her by giving her a name: Moon Child.
As a result, Bastian ends up in Fantastica and is given the powerful medallion Auryn that allows him to create anything he wishes; however, unbeknownst to him, it came at the cost of his memories of his life outside of the book. Bastian casts wish after wish in order to experience great adventures, causing harm to Fantastica in the process. Eventually, Bastian decides to take over Fantastica himself. Ultimately, Bastian becomes repentant over his actions. Atreyu and the luck dragon Falkor accompany Bastian into Auryn where the Water of Life demands Bastian’s name and to know if he finished all the quests he had started for himself in order to allow Bastian to return home. Atreyu gives Bastian’s name and offers to finish those quests, allowing Bastian to return home and reconcile with his father. The book, however, had disappeared. Coreander reveals to Bastian that Bastian will be charged, like he was, to help the next possessor of the book find their way to Fantastica.
The NeverEnding Story was a hit. It stayed at the top of the sales charts for more than three years and was ultimately translated into 27 different languages. Bernd Eichinger and Dieter Geissler acquired the rights to Ende’s book and set about producing a film adaptation. Co-written and directed by Wolfgang Petersen, The NeverEnding Story largely covered the first half of the book. As in the story, Bastian (Barret Oliver) ended up having to save the life of the Childlike Empress (Tami Stronach) after witnessing the adventures of Atreyu (Noah Hathaway) and Falkor (Alan Oppenheimer). A number of changes occur between the book and movie. Because the make-up failed to look realistic, Atreyu was given normal skin color and made to look more like a Native American. Falkor, an actual dragon in the book, looked more like a dog-headed creature. Because of time, some characters were cut out and their actions attributed to others. Although Bastian ends up interacting with Fantasia (the name also changed from the book), he doesn’t end up inside of it for the prolonged period he does in the book; instead, the film ends with him and Falkor running down his bullies in the real world.
|Bastian with Barktroll and Falkor.|
Released on April 6 in Germany and July 20, 1984 in the United States, the film performed very well; earning $100 million worldwide despite some mixed reviews. The worst reviews of the film, however, came from Ende himself. He felt that the script he consulted on was rewritten without his knowledge and that it completely ignored the point of his book in an attempt to make money. When his request for production to be halted was denied, Ende attempted to sue them but ultimately lost in court. Instead, he settled for his name to be removed from the project.
Once legal issues with Ende were put to rest, Geissler resumed work on the remainder of the film trilogy he envisioned for The NeverEnding Story; acknowledging that the book was too rich for just one film. The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter adapted the remainder of the book while also weaving in a new narrative, and The NeverEnding Story III: Return (or Escape) to Fantasia utilized only the characters in a completely original story. Each entry saw increasingly negative reviews and diminishing returns; II only made $17.4 million at the box office and III only saw a successful release in its native Germany, its limited United States release ending as quickly as it started.
|The Childlike Empress gives Bastian the Auryn.|
While producing the sequels, the idea to adapt the franchise into an animated series came about. The NeverEnding Story was a joint production between CineVox Filmproduktion GmbH of Germany, Ellipse Programme of France, Nelvana of Canada and HIT Entertainment of the United Kingdom. The series followed Bastian’s (Christopher Bell) continuing adventures in Fantasia; set after the first movie and ignoring all but characters from the second two. He journeyed to the land whenever he wanted by perusing the pages of the book in Mr. Correander’s (Chris Wiggins) shop. Often times, he had to embark on a quest to save the land from some kind of evil plight usually in the company of a variety of friends: the heroic Atreyu (finally portrayed with his green skin, voiced by Dominic Zamprogna), Falkor (Howard Jerome), the bird-like Nimbly (introduced in the second movie, voiced by Neil Crone), or the tree-like Barktroll (introduced in the third movie, voiced by Richard Binsley). Other characters returning from the films included the Empress (Lisa Yamanaka), her aide Large Head (Colin Fox), Mr. Rockbiter (Harvey Atkin), gnome scientist Engywook (Wayne Robson) and his witch wife Urgl (Barbara Byrne), the wise giant turtle Morla (Pam Hyatt), and Bastian’s father Barney (Geoffrey Bowes).
|Evil sorceress Xayide.|
There were several recurring villains on the show. The Nothing was combined with the character of Gmork (Don Francks) to be a black hole with evil red eyes that belonged to a white wolf that would emerge from time to time; the evil sorceress Xayide (introduced in the second movie, voiced by Janet-Laine Green), who used a variety of magic in her schemes to conquer the land; Vermin (Len Carlson), a bat-winged rat who kept an eye out for things worth stealing around Fantasia; and Shadow Goblin (Benedict Campbell), a master thief who wanted to become the richest being in Fantasia.
|The Nothing, aka Gmork.|
The NeverEnding Story debuted on HBO on December 2, 1995 and ran for a single season of 26 episodes. It was later rerun on HBO Family. The show was written by Erika Strobel, Vince Grittani, Nicola Barton, Peter Sauder, Dale Schott, Laurel L. Russwurm, Rolf Giesen and Bruce Robb. Animation duties were handled by Hanho Hueng Up Co. Ltd., Funbag Animation Studios Inc., Pixibox Studios, Cinemagic, Studio 306 Ltd. and Medallion – PFA. The series’ music was composed by Milan Kymlicka.
|An evil Bastian wants the Auryn.|
“The Tears of Sadness”, “Perilin”, “The Three Feeling Stones” and “The Belt of Invisibility” were released to a compilation VHS in 1996 by HBO Home Entertainment. In 2005, the first three episodes were released on the DVD Bastian to the Rescue by FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd. The entire series was made available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
“The Tears of Sadness” (12/2/95) – Bastian and Barktroll investigate why the water is turning people into stone.
“The Meek and the Mighty” (12/9/95) – Bastian tries to put a stop to Baby Rockchewer’s destruction of the Tinies Village.
“The Purple Buffalo” (12/16/95) – Bastian arrives in the Grassy Plains of the Greenskin tribe to learn that the Purple Buffalo and Atreyu have disappeared.
“Morla’s Wish” (12/23/95) – The Nothing is determined to get Bastian and Jacko before they can deliver a package to Morla.
“Spook City” (12/30/95) – Bastian has to help a spook he met in the Forbidden Forest rescue her brother from Spook City.
“The Save Falkor” (1/6/96) – Bastien ignores his doctor’s orders when he’s sick to head to Fantasia and rescue Falkor.
“Missing Memories” (1/13/96) – Bastian has to find out why parts of Fantasia are mysteriously disappearing.
“Perilin” (1/20/96) – Bastian has to help rescue the Fire Lion to stop the spread of the Night Forest.
“The Sea of Mist” (1/27/96) – Engywook’s latest expedition led him to discover the Ancient Sea Scrolls, which contain answers to Fantasia’s mysteries.
“Promises” (2/3/96) – Bastian helps Atreyu and Salya track down what’s causing a fissure in the Grassy Plains.
“Through the Misty Mountains” (2/10/96) – Bastian and Large Head look into a monster that reportedly lives in the mountains.
“A Friendship That Flames” (2/17/96) – Barktroll gets jealous of Bastian’s new friend and tries to prove himself the better one.
“The Three Feeling Stones” (2/24/96) – Xayide is able to quell good feelings in Fantasia by removing two of the three ancient Feeling Stones.
“The Belt of Invisibility” (3/2/96) – Bastian needs Xayide’s help to stop a pair of invisible thieves.
“Good Deeds” (3/9/96) – When Barktroll receives a reward for a good deed he begins to expect one every time he does something nice.
“Barktroll’s Blame” (3/16/96) – Barktroll is accused of starting a fire in the Howling Forest.
“The Searcher” (3/23/96) – A mistake sends Engywook to the Land of Cold Fire to obtain all the knowledge he can.
“End of Time” (3/30/96) – Time seems to be slowing down, affecting all of Bastian’s friends.
“Thunder and Lightning” (4/6/96) – Engywook sets out to build a rain-making machine to end the drought in the Gnomic Forest.
“The Everlasting Night” (4/13/96) – Xayide attempts to create a spell from a stolen recipe book and ends up putting herself into a sleeping trance.
“After the Falls” (4/20/96) – Bastian convinces Barktroll to accept a log-rolling challenge issued to him by a bully over a beautiful tree they both like.
“Mirror, Mirror” (4/27/96) – Xayide’s magic mirror creates an evil version of Bastian and a good version of herself.
“The Dreaming Fields” (5/4/96) – Xayide places Nightmare Weeds in the Dreaming Fields that causes everyone’s dreams to become waking nightmares.
“The Atonal Trolls” (5/11/96) – The Atonal Trolls abandon their homeland for the Ivory Tower, but threaten its existence with the decibels of their shrieks.
“The Race for the Ivory Tower” (5/18/96) – Everyone enters The Race, including Shadow Goblin and Vermin who plan to cheat their way to victory.
“The Perfect Gift” (5/25/96) – Bastian hopes Fantasia will inspire him to find the perfect Father’s Day gift.
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