Bastian (Barret Oliver) is a shy 10-year-old who lives alone with his father after the death of his mother. He’s a loner and gets bullied at school, but he finds solace in books.
One day some bullies are chasing Bastian, and he escapes into a bookshop. He’s intrigued by a book that the owner is reading, which is called The NeverEnding Story. The owner tells Bastian that this is no ordinary book – it’s dangerous and not for him. When the owner turns away to answer the telephone, Bastian steals the book and runs to hide in the attic of his school.
When Bastian opens the mysterious book in the attic, he’s drawn deeply into its story about a magical world called Fantasia, which is threatened with destruction by the all-consuming Nothing. Fantasia’s leader, the Childlike Empress (Tami Stronach), is also suffering from an unknown, fatal illness. Fantasia’s only hope lies in a young warrior, Atreyu (Noah Hathaway), who’s sent to find a cure for the Empress and to stop the Nothing. Atreyu’s quest leads him to all parts of Fantasia, where he meets many new companions and fellow travellers, including the beautiful flying Luck Dragon. Together they face many challenges and dangers, but they can’t find a cure.
In his attic hideaway, Bastian suddenly realises that he’s more than just a passive reader or witness of the story. He might just be the chosen earthling child who alone has the power to save Fantasia and all its wondrous creatures.
Fantasy; adventure; supernatural; death; destruction of the environment; bullying; the power of storytelling and language
The NeverEnding Story has some violence. For example:
- Gmork is an evil, wolf-like ‘creature of darkness’, who’s on a quest to kill Atreyu. When Gmork first meets Atreyu, he doesn’t know who Atreyu is but still threatens to kill him. When Atreyu declares his identity, Gmork attacks him but Atreyu pushes a rock shard in his chest and kills him.
- To get to the Southern Oracle, characters have to pass a gate consisting of two massive sphinxes. If the sphinxes sense self-doubt, their eyes shoot deadly laser beams. Atreyu sees them killing a knight. The sphinxes also nearly kill him.
- Three bullies threaten Bastian. They try to take his money, chase him, and force him into a rubbish dumpster.
There are no sexual references in The NeverEnding Story.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
There is no use of substances in The NeverEnding Story.
Nudity and sexual activity
There is some mild nudity in The NeverEnding Story – for example, the marble sphinx statues are bare breasted.
There’s no product placement in The NeverEnding Story.
There is some coarse language and name-calling in The NeverEnding Story.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The NeverEnding Story is based on the first part of the acclaimed youth fantasy-adventure book of the same title by German author Michael Ende. Since its release in 1984, the movie has been a childhood classic for generations of families. Even though the special effects are a little dated by 21st-century standards, it remains a gripping and fascinating family fantasy tale, featuring relatable characters and heroes and important positive messages.
You should be aware that there are some fairly dark and depressing themes in The NeverEnding Story, as well as some sad and scary moments. This means the movie is best suited to children aged over 8 years. We also recommend some parental guidance for children aged up to 10 years, particularly for sensitive children.
Values in The NeverEnding Story that you could reinforce with your children include courage, imagination, self-confidence and self-belief. The books also emphasises the power of books to stimulate imagination, fascination and learning.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the importance of believing that every single person can make a difference, regardless of their age or status.