The Neverending Story

From Academic Kids

The Neverending Story (Die Unendliche Geschichte) is a fantasy novel by Michael Ende, first published in 1979. The standard English translation, by Ralph Manheim, was first published in 1983.


The book centres on a young boy, Bastian Balthazar Bux, who steals a book called The Neverending Story from a small antique bookstore. Bastian is initially presented as part of a frame tale in which he is merely the enthralled reader of the stolen book --an adventure story about the land of Fantasia, the realm in which all human fantasies and stories are played out. As the book progresses, however, it becomes clear that some of the inhabitants of Fantasia are aware of Bastian, and that he is the key to the success of the quest he is reading about. Halfway through the book, he enters Fantasia himself, and begins to take an active role in events there. Thus, for any avid reader, a large part of the appeal of the book is the way it dramatizes the experience of being "caught up" in a story.

Note: The English translation of the book calls the magic land "Fantastica", although "Fantasia" is a closer translation of the original German name. The film and television adaptations all use "Fantasia".

The first half of the book, while rich in indelible images and characters, comprises a fairly conventional quest-adventure fairy tale. The second half, however, introduces a number of psychologically rich themes, as Bastian comes to terms with his selfhood, faces his dark side, and moves towards maturity in a world shaped by his wishes.

The overall theme of the book is the healing power of imagination, as represented by the way in which the world of Fantasia and the real world are presented as vital to each other's survival. Each half of the book can also be viewed as an exemplar of the Hero's Journey story outline.


A film adaptation of the novel was released in 1984, directed by Wolfgang Petersen and starring Barret Oliver, Noah Hathaway, and Tami Stronach. It covered only the first half of the book, ending at the point where Bastian enters Fantasia. Michael Ende felt that this adaptation's content deviated so far from his book that he requested they either halt production or change the name; when they did neither, he sued them. He lost the case. [1] ( But he did succeed in having his name removed from the opening the credits although his name does appear in the closing credits.

The theme song to the film was composed by Giorgio Moroder with lyrics by Keith Forsey, and performed by Limahl, lead singer of Kajagoogoo.

The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter, directed by George Miller and starring Jonathan Brandis, was released in 1990. It used a number of plot elements from the second half of Ende's novel, but told an essentially new story.

The Neverending Story III, starring Jason James Richter, Melody Kay and Jack Black, was released in 1994. This film was based only upon the characters from the Ende book, with a completely new story.

The Neverending Story has also inspired two television series. The 1996 animated series was focused on Bastian's further adventures in Fantasia (not the same as his further adventures in the book), while the live-action Tales from the Neverending Story retold the whole story as an ongoing series lasting 13 episodes.

External links

es:La historia interminable (novela) eo:La senĉesa rakonto fr:L'Histoire sans fin it:La storia infinita (romanzo) he:הסיפור שאינו נגמר ja:はてしない物語


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