From recent theatrical releases, such as Into the Woods, to required reading lists for students, fairy tales are prominent contributors to popular culture and academia. Some parents may contemplate the lessons taught by fairy tales, while others fear the films may be too scary for their youngsters. We are sharing the Best Fairy Tale Movies series with the intention of addressing both of these considerations as well as broadening the fairy tale genre to include animated classics, live action adventures, and modern interpretations. So, delve into these on-screen stories to experience lessons in love, loss, and life and, perhaps, to find your new favorite film.
The NeverEnding Story is based on Michael Ende’s book. This epic work of the imagination tells a special story within a story, and is an irresistible invitation for readers to become part of the book itself. The same concept proves to be true for the film, too.
Released: July 20, 1984
Directors: Wolfgang Petersen
Run time: 102 minutes
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The NeverEnding Story has a PG rating, and parental guidance is strongly suggested – some material may not be suitable for children.
Is The NeverEnding Story educational?
On the surface, The NeverEnding Story seems like a dreamland fairy tale for children, however, if you look closer, you will realize that Fantasia can translate into much more. First there is a situation of coping as Bastian is dealing with the recent loss of his mother. We see the worry his father has as he encourages Bastian to “to get [his] head down out of the clouds, and start keeping both feet on the ground.” Unfortunately, between combating his emotions, and dealing with school bullies, it is hard for him to do so.
Valuable lessons can be learned from the way Bastian avoids physical altercations with the bullies, and how he is vocal about what’s going on when he talks to the bookkeeper one day when he is hiding from them.
When watching, you may start to recognize that just as the sadness may be taking over Bastian, The Nothing is taking over Fantasia. Unfortunately, in the end, The Nothing wins, and Bastian and Atreyu have both failed. However, Bastian is able to look at The Nothing, and see how he is able to take responsibility, and rebuild Fantasia from a grain of sand, and take care of it. Similarly, we see this as symbolism for Bastian taking responsibility for his feelings, by not allowing his sadness to overcome him.
Although some may not see it as a truly educational film, The NeverEnding Story has a great deal of takeaways that allow us to identify our emotions, and react appropriately in order live a life that does not succumb to a feeling that may seem to be, well, never ending.
Will my family like The NeverEnding Story?
Overall, The NeverEnding Story is a great film for children of all ages and their parents to enjoy. There are a few scenes which parents of small children may want to be wary of, and those include bullies throwing Bastian into a dumpster, and a beloved horse being sucked into a swamp. Other than that, Atreyu, the hero of the film, has no weapons until the story’s end.
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