#WayBackWednesday – The Neverending Story (1984)

We’re all stuck in the house, right? There’s never been a better time to dig into those retro movies that you’ve always wanted to watch, but never had the time for. Personally, I’m a bit of a retrophile and tend to watch more older flicks than newer ones. On Fangirlish, you can now look forward to a retro review from me each Wednesday in this column. I’ll be highlighting one throwback movie a week, offering a spoiler-free review of the film, any throwback thoughts from my childhood, and where you can watch the movie yourself. Sit back, relax, and enjoy #WayBackWednesday.

Do you remember how you found new movies and shows to watch growing up? Before the advent of streaming or DVR, where did you find new content? Did you flip channels? Rent VHS tapes from your library or local video store? I watched this week’s #WayBackWednesday movie by chance. I took piano lessons growing up. So did my sister and my mother. My teacher fit all three of us in one long afternoon session. While my sister and mom were taking lessons, my teacher put on a movie for me in the other room. That movie was The Neverending Story. I was hooked. Check out the trailer for The Neverending Story

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There’s a lot to enjoy about The Neverending Story. Based on a book of the same name, this 1984 classic has much to offer, even – or should I say especially – in 2020. I watched this film for the first time in recent memory a couple weeks ago. The effects are a little dated, but the look and music make me feel like a 9 year old again. Practical effects, puppets, and a great story keep this film in permanent “classic” status for me. Quotable lines and a message with heart, The Neverending Story lives up to its name; it’s a film worth revisiting again and again. 

In my #WayBackWednesday post featuring Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, I mentioned that I enjoy a film that entertains, but also makes me think. Aside from the lattice of a classic 80s fantasy film, the foundation of The Neverending Story lies in the philosophical questions it asks. It’s these questions that give the film its staying power, making it just as, if not more enjoyable and even profound for me as an adult. 

Perhaps the most poignant bit of dialogue for me is a conversation held between Engywook and Falcor. It follows:

Engywook: Next is the Magic Mirror Gate. Atreyu has to face his true self.

Falcor: So what? That won’t be too hard for him.

Engywook: Oh, that’s what everyone thinks! But kind people find out that they are cruel. Brave men discover that they are really cowards! Confronted by their true selves, most men run away screaming!

What happens when humans face their true selves? What happens when we confront ourselves and find ourselves wanting, evil, cowardly? That is a question worth considering, especially in our current state of affairs. Face your true self. If you are found wanting, what do you do to get past it? It’s sobering to consider. That line shocked me out of my apathy and has made me more aware of how I fall short. I don’t want to catch myself acting like Morla, the Ancient One. 

Who would have thought a 1980s children’s fantasy film could pack in that kind of philosophical question? Sometimes the cure for apathy can come in an unlikely package. For me, a good story can make me sit up and pay attention. The cure for apathy is courage, and I think we could all stand to have a bit more courage these days. 

The Neverending Story is a classic that has held up for me over the years. I always love a good fantasy tale, but the theme of courage is what gives it its heart. Check out The Neverending Story for a solid 80s fantasy tale and a healthy dose of courage. 

The Neverending Story is included with HBO Max. 

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