Director Wolfgang Petersen sure had an ambitious task on his hands when he decided to take on creating the spectacular world that is Fantasia. And it sure paid off.
I watched NeverEnding Story often as a child, though hadn’t seen it in almost 20 years. But images like these stick in your brain indelibly.
Based on the 1979 novel of the same name by Michael Ende, it follows a young boy, Bastian, as he happens upon a mysterious book that bridges the gap between what’s real and what’s fantasy.
Filled with unique and visionary characters and set pieces, it’s such an attractive film. The vision is executed so imaginatively that when we see the world of Fantasia, we never for a second feel like it’s the same world–the real world–that Bastian is living in.
You can tell it enjoys showing off its effects. And it should–they’re amazing! But the film isn’t just a “look what we can do” effects spectacle. No, it’s very deep and has some important things to say. It’s mainly about hope and imagination, with subtle religious undertones as well.
It’s a fairly short movie, but the adventure never feels rushed, building momentum evenly and moving along at an almost-perfect pace.
Often times, filmmakers know that if they just throw a bunch of fancy effects and weird-looking characters into their children’s movie that the details of the story don’t matter. This isn’t the case here. For a fantasy film, the details aren’t convoluted at all. It’s easy for kids to understand, but adults won’t feel talked down to, either. In fact, they’ll likely relate to it too.