The NeverEnding Story (1984) is a rare breed. There’s not many fantasy films and even less that are as good as The NeverEnding Story. It’s a beautiful film. The music is brilliant (hear The NeverEnding Story song and good luck getting it out of your head) and the story is magical. The lush scenery, sets, use of practical effects, and, of course, the colorful cast of memorable characters were so wildly imaginative and spellbinding. Least not bit of all, the message behind this film. That message being “to keep fantasy alive”. Without our dreams, without imagination, without a heart, without caring for others… humanity basically doesn’t have a reason to exist, we would be we would nothing (just like the evil force in the movie). Given that geek culture is all those things, that message evokes such a moving and lasting impression.
30 plus years later, you may be interested to know these 7 facts about The NeverEnding Story.
The Childlike Empress Was Really Young and Had an Oral Problem
“The Childlike Empress” was just child-“like”. She has existed for as long as there have been stories to tell. She was portrayed by Iranian born dancer Tami Stronach who was only 11 years old when the production started. Tami lost both of her canine teeth shortly before filming and had to wear fake teeth (also known as flippers) during her scenes in the film, initially causing her to speak with a slight lisp. Apparently sounding like a pre-Jim Carrey in The Cable Guy was frowned upon, so she had to learn how to act through it.
The Actor Who Played Atreyu Almost Drowned and Lost an Eye.
Noah Hathaway was hurt several time during the making of the movie. During his horse riding training he was thrown off a horse which then stepped on him. Then during the shooting of the drowning sequence in the “Swamp of Sadness” his leg got caught on the elevator and he was pulled under water. He was unconscious by the time he was brought to the surface. He later almost lost an eye during the fight-scene versus Gmork. One of the claws on his giant paws poked him in the face. The robot was also so heavy that he lost his breath as well when he was hit to the ground by it. They only made one shot due to the risk that he would get seriously wounded.
Maybe all these injuries explain why Noah screamed most of his lines in the movie, kid was in constant pain.
Atreyu Was Originally Supposed to Be Green.
In The Neverending Story book, Atreyu had blue hair and green skin. The makeup team on the movie tried to paint Noah green, as described in the book. The makeup didn’t look believable, so Atreyu was portrayed with normal skin tones instead. Noah has often joked at many a convention appearances “I looked like fungi”. Apparently, a young warrior summoned to defeat an evil force threatening the mythical land of Fantasia, was to look anything but like a “fun guy” (get it?).
The Horse Didn’t Die.
EVERYONE remembers what went down in that swamp as one of the most gut wrenching moments in movie history; where Atreyu’s horse Artax just gives up and sinks to the bottom of a deadly swamp. From this, a wild rumor emerged… that the horse really did die while filming the Swamp of Sadness scene. As confirmed by German magazine interview with Noah Hathaway shortly after the movie, and in the years since at conventions, the horse was given to Noah at the end of filming but due to the cost of transportation, need for quarantine, and sterilization, the horse was left behind in Germany. He died much much later, living a good life doing horse stuff.
Yoda, Mickey Mouse, Chewbacca, C3PO, The Ewoks, ET and Gumby Were In The Movie.
During the first Ivory Tower scene when the group of Fantasians are gathered together, within that conclave are some very interesting attendees. If you look very closely you will see characters such as Yoda, Mickey Mouse, Chewbacca, C3PO, The Ewoks, ET and Gumby. The image only lasted a split-second. Just long enough to question your sanity.
The Author of the Book Hated The Movie and Campaigned Against It.
Author Michael Ende felt that the movie did not follow closely to the book and refused to have his name placed in the opening credits. He hated the adaptation so much that he urged that production be shut down or the title of the movie be changed. Because the producers refused to do either, Ende filed a lawsuit against the producers. He ended up losing the case.
Michael Ende wrote a book “The NeverEnding Story” and has been forever living in regret that he did not name it “The NeverEnde Story”.
What Name Did Bastion Give to the Childlike Empress?
In order to save Fantasia from The Nothing, Bastian simply needed to giver the ruler of Fantasia a name– which was a metaphor for how we create our own stories and such. This scene saw Bastian rush to the window and shout out a name in the face of a violent storm. His words are not audible. It has since been a long debate on what he said. Though, if you watch the movie with subtitles turned on, the caption reads as “Moonchild” which is the same name as referenced in the book (Sebastion’s late mother). Furthermore, the actor who played Bastian, Barret Oliver, was actually given the choice to say whatever he wanted, with the production crew knowing that what he said wasn’t gonna be heard. Regardless, Barret thought it appropriate to stick with the source material and name her Moonchild as referenced in the book.
BONUS FACTS: Where Are They Now?
Most child actors end up as tragedies, getting into all sorts of legal troubles involving drugs and debauchery. Not the cast of The NeverEnding Story. They all grew up as successful adults.
Tami Stronach (CHILDLIKE EMPRESS):
After filming, Tami begin to focus on another passion… dance. Today, she’s a well-respected choreographer in New York and currently runs her own dance studio, Tami Stronach Dance, in addition to being an assistant professor of dance at Marymount Manhattan College.
Noah Hathaway (ATREYU):
Noah is still acting, most recently appearing in the film Sushi Girl. Noah is also a martial arts instructor and tattoo artist in Los Angeles.
Barrett Oliver (BASTIAN):
Nowadays, Barrett resides in Los Angeles where he’s a successful photographer, printer, teacher and author. An expert on 19th century film processing, Barrett has even published a book on the subject.