The NeverEnding Story (1984)
Frequently Asked Questions
It's Moonchild. The movie was translated from the original German novel where the name he calls out was "Mondenkind". Whether this was the name of his mother as the film suggests or something he just made up is open for debate, but if you listen closely, you can see he says, "Moonchild."
Yes, the movie breaks the fourth wall. As the storm rages in Bastian's world (is the Nothing destroying his world too?), the Childlike Empress mentions that someone, somewhere, is living the adventure through Bastian, a concept that once again escapes his comprehension. Note that at this point, she's looking directly toward the camera—towards you/us watching the film. In this part, she's speaking to the audience, complementing what G'mork said earlier, but in a higher layer of truth, referring to Bastian's world as another extension of what could be called our world's Fantasia. The Childlike Empress is breaking the fourth wall between the film itself and our world. At some other point Atreyu speaks to us in the actual real world. None of the characters of Bastain's world ever seem to break the fourth wall, though.
Once Bastian gave the Empress a new name, there is a short conversation on how imagination works. As Bastian understands it, he becomes the hero of his own adventure, free and valiant. The image of Bastian riding on Falkor is an invitation for us, the audience, to step out of the Nothing. It's an exhortation for us to have hope and live our dreams by means of a "dangerous book," as the Librarian said in the beginning of the film. But what about the fourth wall of the book within the movie?... The complicated point is that the film itself deals with layers of truth that must be understood in order to get the full meaning of the film (not the book). Keep this in mind. Note that every single time the expression "boundaries of Fantasia" is said, it refers to the fourth wall between Fantasia and Bastian's world.
When Atreyu is given the mission to find an earthling at the boundaries of Fantasia, his mission becomes to break the fourth wall to contact Bastian, who is the earthling that can give the Childlike Empress a new name (in order to save Fantasia). This is the 1st time the fourth wall is broken. As Atreyu finds Morla, the Ancient One, Bastian screams in terror, so loud that he's heard by Atreyu, breaking that same fourth wall the 2nd time. When Atreyu looks thought the mirror of truth, he sees Bastian reading the book, who gets scared by the text describing the whole situation, breaking the fourth wall between the aforementioned realities the 3rd time. Since the book is possibly magical, the characters within it may, to a degree, be able to function like characters within a stage play and thus actually see or even interact with whoever is reading the book, but as interactive actors, they are not supposed to do so.
In the point when G'mork finds Atreyu, the beast addresses a pretty dense philosophical speech, dealing with the relationship between the human imagination, Fantasia existence and the source of final power over a man: As long as a human can imagine, dream and hope, Fantasia is infinite, and such human is harder to control, therefore he/she has the power to control his/her own adventure, in other words, live his/her own life. Given this, if the dreams of a human cease to exist, the Nothing will destroy Fantasia (the sum of a human's hopes and dreams), and as a direct effect, "people who have no hopes are easy to control", as G'mork says. Note that Bastian's father wants to suppress Bastian's dreams, and as consequence of his mother's death, he's losing his hopes, therefore, the three bullies have power over him. In such speech, G'mork is breaking the fourth wall by recognize the existence of humans beyond "the boundaries of Fantasia". This is the 4th time.
Finally, when Fantasia is collapsing and the Castle is one of the surviving structures, the Childlike Empress first talks to Atreyu. Later, Atreyu is gone from scene and she begins to talk to Bastian: the 5th time the wall is broken.
"Die sümpfe der Traurigkeit und Die Unendliche Geschichte" by Wolfgang Petersen; the director's view translated: The scene of Artax's death is the most moving and dramatic one in the movie. The parts of the scene where Atreyu leads Artrax through the Swamp were relatively easy to shoot. Problems arose in the sequence where Artax is overwhelmed by hopelessness and slowly sinks into the mud to a certain death while Atreyu calls out to his friend not to give up, to keep on fighting, and not to lose hope.
Bordering on cruelty to animals, the horse portraying Artax was chained to a lifting platform which could slowly be lowered into the swamp. To ensure that the horse would not be mentally damaged, he was carefully trained for weeks by horse coach Tony Smart. In addition, a deep ditch was dug between the accommodation halls and filled with water through which the horse was led again and again.
The training was nevertheless insufficient, as R. Eyssen tells in his book, for the horse did not let the sadness of the swamp get to him and he did not go down without a fight. With an energetic jerk of the heading, the horse caused Noah to splash into the swamp and hurt his leg on the edge of the lifting platform. As dirty as he was, Noah was immediately driven to the hospital. The physician on duty must really have been surprised to treat a mud-covered Indian boy carried by a man in a white paper suit, hearing a tale about lifting platforms, swamps and horses. Fortunately Noah was back on the set after a mere two days. To save production time and costs, the pursuit scenes of the Gmork were predominantly shot at night under the direction by H. Nikel, while Noah's scenes were done during the day. The effects of the pursuit as seen from the Gmork's point of view were achieved by use of a Steadycam. By use of springs, absorbers and counterweights, the camera was attached to the cameraman in such a way that it always remained counterbalanced, no matter how the cameraman moved. All he had to do was to walk the path of the Gmork.
Within this scene, a dog with a wolf skin was intended to play the part of the Gmork, but this would have looked too obvious. Instead, two paws were made and fastened to the hands of a co-worker, who was then carried through the swamp on a stretcher. The scene shows Atreyu sinking, while losing his hope before he is rescued by Falkor. The Auryn is a symbol that portrays our ideals and believes, so basically the idea of this scene is to describe that anyone can lose hope and fall. Because the mud couldn't be prepared insect-free, they used artificial mud. That wasted more shooting days and money. The real white horse didn't want to work in the mud any longer—neither real nor artificial. That's why they used another brown horse which had to be colored white. The guide at the Bavaria Film Studios declared at their tour that the mud came from excavator works at the river Isar (through Munich). The mud was put in trucks and tipped down at the set. They didn't consider that the mud was full of insect larvae in that season. The larvae comfort so much in the warm spotlights on the set that they slip after a few days. The swarms of insects were so big that film shooting was impossible. The vermin exterminator needed two days to clean the set free of insects.
The film was released uncut in Germany but the version for the US market was modified. A lot of shots were shortened for a couple of seconds but the differences aren't that huge. The only important one is that the splendid score, composed by Klaus Doldinger, was replaced by a synthesizer score, composed by Giorgio Moroder who's also in charge for the Scarface score for instance.