Picture from grandintheater.com
The September 2016 revival of the classic children’s movie “The Neverending Story” reminded me what it is about movies that we love. It’s the wonderful opportunity to delve into someone else’s life for 120 minutes, to enjoy adventures that you wouldn’t otherwise feel, to cry like a baby, to fall in love. For me, on Sept. 4 at one of the many AMCs in Burbank, I became a child again.
Made in West Germany in 1984 and directed by Wolfgang Peterson, the film is based on a fantasy book by the same name published in 1979. It’s the story of Bastien, a typical curious boy who is thrown into the story of Fantasia, land of all of man’s fantasies and dreams. In this world, the Nothing is destroying everything so Atrayu, a young warrior about the same age as Bastien, is tasked to find a cure for the Empress.
I walked into the theater about two minutes into the introductory video. The second I noticed what was playing on the big screen in front of me, a sigh of relief escaped my lips. If all I wanted was to watch the movie again, I could have stayed at home and streamed it. Going to the theaters comes with the added bonus of either introductory clips or a guest speaker, giving you the opportunity to watch the movie from a different perspective and appreciate it even more.
One of the biggest difficulties making the film was creating all of these magical features, like the beloved (and slightly pedophilic) Falkor, without CGI. The production team actually hired an Italian aircraft engineer to big the Luck Dragon. All of the creatures were huge puppets controlled by levers that had to be managed by an entire team as they filmed. After finding this out, I was amazed by the life-like nature of the puppets, as one of the cast members pointed out in the video, they were surprisingly good actors for puppets. Another key part of the film were the child actors, who, although very young, fully took command of their characters in some very emotional scenes.
The theater was fully packed. At 16 years old, I was probably one of the youngest ones there. Even so, it was blatantly obvious that everyone else had come for the same reason as I had: to see if the children’s movie still holds up after all of these years. The guy sitting next to me couldn’t stop bouncing his feet to the movie’s soundtrack and the sound of excited murmurs that filled the room. Despite not having time to buy popcorn, I enjoyed myself thoroughly and giggled with the rest of the audience.
As we watched the movie, the entire room filled with people bogged down by adult problems such as the presidential elections, were reminded of what really matters in life: dreaming.