The NeverEnding Story (1984)

1h 42m / PG / Fantasy

On his way to school, Bastian (Barret Oliver) ducks into a bookstore to avoid a pack of bullies. This annoys the bookseller, Mr. Coreander, who shows Bastian a fascinating book but then tells him not to read it, like a real jerk would do. Of course Bastian immediately sneaks away with the book, called “The Neverending Story,” and starts reading it while secreted away in the school’s attic. It’s the story of Fantasia, a fantasy land threatened by “The Nothing,” a darkness that destroys everything it touches. The Childlike Empress of Fantasia (Tami Stronach) needs the help of the young warrior Atreyu and a menagerie of his strange friends to seek out the only weapon that can end The Nothing’s assault: a human child.

Isekai stories are having a huge moment right now – and if you want to prove it, ask your kid if they know what the word “isekai” means. And while the trope of a normal person being sucked into a fantastical realm has been around since at least Shakespeare, The Neverending Story (a German co-production and, at its time of release, the most expensive film produced outside of the US or the Soviet Union), was a powerful and popular introduction to the idea for ‘80s kids.

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