The Neverending Story in Premiere: "When a German director dares to follow in the footsteps of George Lucas"

The Neverending Story in Premiere: “When a German director dares to follow in the footsteps of George Lucas”

In 1984, the editorial staff fell under the spell of the magical creatures in Wolfgang Petersen’s film.

This Sunday, 6ter will offer a family evening by rebroadcasting The never-ending story. When it was released in France in November 1984, this adaptation of Michael Ende’s fantasy novel by Wolfgang Petersen was preceded by a good reputation. The director has just signed The boat, which was a hit, raising more than $50 million for a budget of less than $10 million. Above all, he was nominated for an Oscar, giving Petersen a certain notoriety across the Atlantic.

Thanks to this success, he was able to obtain large means for The never-ending story : 26 million greenbacks are granted to the project, which will be shot in the gigantic sets of Bavaria, in Munich and will require the manufacture of a lot of special effects. “It’s a super-production that is eyeing the American giants, George Lucas in the lead”, we read in the review by Dominique Maillet. A few weeks before its American release, Steven Spielberg, who precisely presents at a press conference Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, created with this same Lucas, quote The never-ending story as being the film that made the biggest impression on him of the year, thus giving him excellent publicity!

During the summer of 1984, this fantasy story did very well at the US box office: with 20 million dollars raised there, The never-ending story will cross the 100 million mark worldwide. By the way, his flagship song, “The Neverending Story”from Limalh, becomes a planetary tube:

At the time, First had not been completely conquered by the film, regretting a script that was sometimes a little thin. The magazine, however, welcomed its clever concept: Bastien (Noah Hathaway) comes into possession of an unfinished book. It’s up to him to imagine the rest of the plot, otherwise the marvelous world he depicts will disappear. “Nice ideaconsidered the journalist Michèle Halberstadt. Who has never dreamed of intervening in the course of a novel, like at Guignol, to warn the hero of the danger that awaits him or, better still, to save him? (…) The imagination must remain in power. Without a dream, the world dies, submerged by Nothingness, namely the grayness of your daily life.

The special effects, especially those used to bring the creatures to life, had amazed the editorial staff, who compared the work of Brian Johnson (VFX supervisor, already famous for his work on 2001 A Space Odyssey And Alien) to that of the ILM teams on Star Wars, supervised by George Lucas. Hence this catchy subtitle about Wolfgang Petersen: “When a German director dares to follow in the footsteps of George Lucas”.

The movie contains “a lot of special effects, all perfectly successful and above all the presence of creatures (a flying dog-headed dragon, a stone-eating giant, a huge bat, the fastest snail in the world…) that could might as well come out of Revenge of the Jedi (the original title of the Return of the Jedieditor’s note) or Dark Crystal.” The reviewer calls them “striking creatures” and regrets that they are not more exploited within the plot. Then, during an article devoted to its manufacture, Michèle Halberstadt talks about “wonderfully poetic bestiary”emphasizing in particular “the most endearing stone eater”. She also returns to “model” by George Lucas: “These creatures and universes are largely worthy of those of Return of the Jedi. On this very specific point, the student has almost caught up with the master.”

Since its release, The never-ending story has gradually become cult, and even if some visual effects have aged, it is seen again with pleasure by several generations of spectators. After this experience, its director has truly established himself in Hollywood and shot other blockbusters in very different styles, such as In the line of sight (with Clint Eastwood, in 1993), Air Force One (with Harrison Ford, in 1997), In the middle of a storm (with George Clooney, in 2000) or Troy (with Brad Pitt, in 2004), before dying in August 2022.

Trailer of The never-ending story :

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