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With the film version of THE NEVERENDING STORY co-writer/director Wolfgang Petersen and screenwriting collaborator Herman Weigel adapted only the first half Michael Ende’s novel. Since the filmmakers engaged in a limited movie adaptation, they were required to make other changes to the original story for the sake of the film’s continuity, which ultimately lead to the author’s dissatisfaction with the film version of his book. Although seemingly disowned by the author of the original novel, the film version of THE NEVERENDING STORY has stood the test of time for a quarter of a century, remaining one of the most popular childhood fantasy films to ever be released on home video.

The premise of THE NEVERENDING STORY tells of a boy named Bastian (Barret Oliver), who is dealing with the loss of his mother at home, as well as being plagued by bullies on his way to school. Taking refuge in a bookstore, where the owner warns him about a particular book that is "not safe" for him to read. Intrigued, Bastian makes off with the book and begins reading The NeverEnding Story while hidden away in his school's attic. The book tells the story of a mystical land know as Fantasia which is facing impending doom due the effects of a dark void known as "The Nothing" that literally consumes everything and leaves nothing in its wake. A young warrior named Atreyu (Noah Hathaway) is called upon to put an end to "The Nothing" and sets out on a perilous quest to do just that. During his quest, Atreyu finds himself in the company of both friends and enemies, while at the same time, Bastian finds himself being quite literally drawn into The NeverEnding Story. The cast of THE NEVERENDING STORY also features Gerald McRaney, Drum Garrett, Darryl Cooksey, Nicholas Gilbert, Thomas Hill, Deep Roy, Tilo Prückner, Moses Gunn, Alan Oppenheimer, Sydney Bromley, Patricia Hayes and Tami Stronach.

Warner Home Video has made THE NEVERENDING STORY available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. Considering the film’s age and intended audience, I have to say I was mighty pleased with the 1080p presentation, which does justice to Jost Vacano's impressive cinematography. More times than not, the picture appears sharp and very nicely defined. Sure there are some rough edges and modest softness that one can attribute to the production techniques and the film stocks available in 1984, but overall the presentation is quite pleasing. Colors are offered with a good level of saturation, but the color palette tends to shy away from bright primary hues. Additionally, flesh tones generally appear quite attractive. Blacks are accurate, as are the whites. Contrast is fairly smooth. Shadow detail is pretty good, but not remarkable. The elements from which THE NEVERENDING STORY has been transferred do exhibit some modest blemishes. Grain is ever-present, but not excessive, which keeps the presentation an accurate reflection of how a movie of this vintage should look.

THE NEVERENDING STORY is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This is a very pleasing upgrade to a soundtrack that originated in the Dolby Surround era. Of course, the track does contain some dated qualities that tie it to the era of its original production. As expected, the forward soundstage remains dominant, with the surround channels providing the requisite ambience and fill, as well as some active effects. In addition, Klaus Doldinger/Giorgio Moroder’s music is featured prominently in the sound mix and allowed to take advantage of all the outlying channels. Thanks to the lossless encode, musical fidelity is relatively strong and pleasing. As for the bass channel, it is relatively deep and supports the onscreen action, but is not overblown. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced and is always easy to understand. A French Dolby Digital 2.0 channel has also encoded onto the disc, as have English, French and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, but supplemental content is totally absent.

Even after a quarter of a century, THE NEVERENDING STORY remains one of the most popular childhood fantasy films to ever be released on home video. The Blu-ray presentation is quite strong and certain to please fans, although the disc’s lack of supplements probably won’t. Recommended.



The Neverending Story [Blu-ray] (1984)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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