The Neverending Story (1984) – Film Analysis
April 25, 2011 14 Comments
These 80s cult classics do well for analyses. Vitrually all the classics children of the 80s like myself grew up with were loaded with deeper, esoteric symbolism, as our series has demonstrated, and The Neverending Story is no different. In fact, the more I contemplated it and researched it’s geist, the more surprised I was. The Never Ending Story, I discovered, was influenced by some of the more overt and bizarre strains of occultism in the previous century. The film is based on a children’s book of the same title by author Michael Ende, a German writer, whose works are influenced by Rudolph Steiner’s Anthroposophy, a German movement that split from Madame Blavatsky’s equally occult Theosophy, which influenced Nazi ideology. As the German biography notes there, Ende was also influenced by other pagan movements:
“Michael Ende hat sich in der Tat ein Leben lang für alle philosophischen Systeme interessiert, denen ein magisches Weltbild zugrunde liegt: “Edgars Sohn suchte auch bei anderen Weisen und Esoterikern Erkenntnis, in des legendären Christian Rosenkreutz’ Chymischer Hochzeit wie in des infernalischen Altmeisters Aleister Crowleys Manifesten, bei Indern und Ägyptern, beim Zen, in der Kabbala, bei Swedenborg, Eliphas Lévi, Sören Kierkegaard, Friedrich Weinreb.”
“Michael Ende has a lifelong interest in all philosophical systems based on a magical worldview. “Edgar’s son was always lookng for other paths and esoteric knowledge, like the legendary Christian Rosenkreutz ‘Chemical Wedding,’ as well as the infernal old master Aleister Crowley, the Indians and Egyptians, Zen, the Kabbala, in Swedenborg, Eliphas Lévi, Soren Kierkegaard, and Friedrich Weinreb.”
Thus Ende’s worldview influences are clear. Anthroposophy shared many of the same new age notions of theosophy, but was banned by the Nazi party. Ende had attended a new age Waldorf School, which based it’s curriculum around anthroposophical ideas, both of which have United Nations affiliations.
["A world that is vast and eternal...." Comment: Uh, no, Fantasia gets blasted to smithereens by the Nothing. So, it's not eternal, really. -Jay]
What becomes clear as one researches this subject is the parallels between the United Nation’s globalist ideology, along with it’s parallel idea of a single, unified global religion as a tool of a superstate which replaces all previous nationalities and traditions, forcing everything into an amalgamated muck where individuality is lost in a collectivist blob, subservient to the deified world state. Amazingly, my articles still have commenters who dispute these public globalist policies, which have been known for decades. I even attended a new age-ish elementary school for the gifted in my younger years associated with UNESCO that enforced these globalist ideologies along similar lines to Steiner’s syncretic mysticism. Make no mistake about it, it is very real, very public, and very much an open tool of the globalists. I was surprised, however, the last time I watched this film how overt it’s paradigm was.
Back to the film. The Neverending Story presents the protagonist hero, Bastian Balthazar Bux, as the typical 80s nerd harassed by neighborhood bullies, raised by his single dad. Contrary to popular belief, having half of Simon and Simon as your dad (Gerald McRaney) isn’t as bitchin’ as you would expect. In fact, Mr. Bux is basically a dickhead. But what can you expect, when Simon and Simon ends and you’re in Neverending Story (and your wife has died).
Bastian awakes from a dream startled, and late for school, but this clues us in to viewing him as a “dreamer” as the opening sequence makes clear, when Mr. Bux says he needs to get his “head out of the clouds and keep his feet on the ground.” Bastian is chased by his bullies, and stumbles into an obscure bookshop where he meets a magician. The magus then tempts Bastian to read his occult wonderworking text, The Neverending Story, replete with an Ouroboros on the cover. As it turns out, Bastian is himself written into, and in the process of writing this story. In literature studies, this is known as metafiction, where the narrative is taken to another level–an appropriate usage in this case, since the view of alternate worlds and and all possible worlds comes into play. This is significant because the film is working from a paradigm in which notions of a multi-verse ends up necessitating that all possibilities are eventually made actual. The Ouroboros symbolizes this concept in ancient religions, as well as in gnosticism and hermeticism.
In fact, Plato included the concept of the Ouroboros in his famed esoteric work of cosmology, The Timaeus. Plato wrote of it:
“The living being had no need of eyes when there was nothing remaining outside him to be seen; nor of ears when there was nothing to be heard; and there was no surrounding atmosphere to be breathed; nor would there have been any use of organs by the help of which he might receive his food or get rid of what he had already digested, since there was nothing which went from him or came into him: for there was nothing beside him. Of design he was created thus, his own waste providing his own food, and all that he did or suffered taking place in and by himself. For the Creator conceived that a being which was self-sufficient would be far more excellent than one which lacked anything; and, as he had no need to take anything or defend himself against any one, the Creator did not think it necessary to bestow upon him hands: nor had he any need of feet, nor of the whole apparatus of walking; but the movement suited to his spherical form was assigned to him, being of all the seven that which is most appropriate to mind and intelligence; and he was made to move in the same manner and on the same spot, within his own limits revolving in a circle. All the other six motions were taken away from him, and he was made not to partake of their deviations. And as this circular movement required no feet, the universe was created without legs and without feet.”
In this scheme, it is a symbol of all created reality itself. The view of time and reality here is one of cyclical, eternal return, as it’s called. This is shared in common with Hinduism and ancient Egypt, and is a staple characteristic of pagan religions, in distinction to biblical religions, which view time as linear, with a progression, beginning and end, rather than time and history being a deterministic, karmic trap which must be escaped. In biblical religions, time itself becomes “redeemed” in some fashion. In paganism, time is a dismal illusion of determined, neverending brute force. Thus the film’s title. In the film’s paradigm, the ancient and occultic exterior doctrines of archetypes and cyclical, eternal return are internalized and psychologized, as for example, Hindusim does, as well as other occult systems. Carl Jung did this, for example. In this absurd scheme, the individual is himself the god creating the external reality, writing the whole narrative. This is precisely what is happening in The Neverending Story–it’s Balthazar’s neverending story of eternal return, which is the gateway to the supposed realization of apotheosis.
It is also very significant that the film includes the concept of sphinxes as gateways. This gets very complex and uber deep, but suffice to say this is also an ancient notion that is shared in numerous religions. Ancient Egyptian theology in particular placed emphasis on the sphinx as the gateway guardian to the temple. This same idea exists in Jewish theology, too, in regard to the Temple’s Seraphic and Cherubic imagery, in particular the Ark of the Covenant, as well as places like Eden. The Jewish Encyclopedia notes (aside from the article’s liberal bias):
“The sphinx image also has been adopted into Masonic architecture. Among the Egyptians, sphinxes were placed at the entrance of the temple to guard the mysteries, by warning those who penetrated within, that they should conceal a knowledge of them from the uninitiated. Champollion says that the sphinx became successively the symbol of each of the gods, by which Portal suggests that the priests intended to express the idea that all the gods were hidden from the people, and that the knowledge of them, guarded in the sanctuaries, was revealed to the initiates only. As a Masonic emblem, the sphinx has been adopted in its Egyptian character as a symbol of mystery, and as such often is found as a decoration sculptured in front of Masonic temples, or engraved at the head of Masonic documents. It cannot, however, be properly called an ancient, recognized symbol of the Order. Its introduction has been of comparatively recent date, and rather as a symbolic decoration than as a symbol that announces any dogma.” (source)
In The Neverending Stor Bastian has a “higher self” in the alternate world of Fantasia named Atreyu, a wild buffalo hunter of the “plains people,” somewhat reminiscent of an American Indian. In fact, Bastian has an experience of synchronicity when he first reads about Atreyu, noticing that he had placed a sticker of an Indian hunting a buffalo on a plain. The film chronicles Bastian’s pregressive realization that the actual story is about him, while Atreyu is also on a journey of self-discovery to realize that he is also Bastian, similar to something you would find in Stephen King’s Gunslinger series.
With the introduction of the Ouroboros, and then meeting the characters named Engywook and Urgl, who represent respectively science and superstition in tension, an alchemical angle. They aid Atreyu on his journey, but turn out to be bumbling and silly, showing the film’s thesis to partly be that those who only see reality as from a base superstitious perspective or from a naive scientism have not but scratched the surface of the true nature of reality, which is only to be found through initiation into “the mysteries.”
Many esotericists and gnostics took the perceived metaphysical statements about the gods and archetypes and internalized them into the individual psyche, thus psychologizing them. Alchemy was done this way too, and the alchemical process comes to symbolize instead an innner progressive realization of godhood. That is what is happening here. Bastion must realize that he is Atreyu, and vice versa. Once this realization occurs at the magic mirror gate, after the sphinx explains the mystery of Fantasia to Atreyu, Atreyu and Bastian see each other reflected in the mirror. In standard Jungian lingo, this is common. This is the mirror of the psyche, reflecting itself. In other words, Bastian is supposed to realize these are manifestations of his psyche, and then reintegrate them. Now, I think this is ridiculous, but there is something to all this. Synchronicity is real, and the inner worlds are connected to the outer worlds, but in my estimation all this needs to be purged of the gnostic notions of external reality being an “illusion.” It’s also manifestly false that reality is created by an individual’s mind. Solipsism is manifestly absurd and self-refuting.
The reason Atreyu is on his quest is to save the childlike empress of Fantasia, who is nameless. In many esoteric traditions, the concept of a name controlling and in some sense containing the essence of the thing, is fundamental. The Empress, we discover, needs a name. Atreyu doesn’t learn this until the end, but this is clearly working from the magian worldview, as Spengler termed it, where word and thing are intimately bound up in one another. This is also found in kabbalistic ideas, as well. Bizarrely, Bastian must rename the Empress, we discover, and it must be given the name of his dead mother, who we find out is called “Moon Child.” Bastian actually screams “Moon Child!” when Fantasia is imploding. “Moonchild” has the occult association with a novel by Satanist Aleister Crowley, as well as associating the Empress with Bastian’s mother, or the feminine sophia archetype. Indeed, research into the scheme Ende drew up for Fantasia includes the idea that the Empress is the feminine embodiment of the spirit of Fantasia. She is then the ‘soul of the world,’ or the anima mundi, in Platonic parlance. It is also interesting that she appears as a kind of Venus or Aphrodite, as well as with vaginal imagery. She is the virgin queen sophia, who lacks the male principle. This is why Atreyu more or less enters he chamber at the end. Naturally, in anything esoteric, there must be a sexual component.
Fantasia is imploding due to “The Nothing,” which is used to represent the classical idea of chaos, or Tiamat, existing prior to form being imposed upon it. In the cyclical pagan view, matter is eternal and form is imposed on it, being recycled after a few aeons into new forms, but since eternal means eternal, everntually all possible potentialities will become actual. Much of modern theoretical physics deals with this, in attempts to show that reality si a multi-verse, as well as that all potentialities are actual, and so on, in writers like Michio Kaku and Lisa Randall. Now I’m not saying all of this is incorrect–I think there are other worlds, but when it becomes a mere platform for promoting a pagan agenda under the guise of “science,” it’s manifetly dishonest.
So, in the end, the world implodes in on itself, because Fantasia is all of humanities desires and dreams. It is the astral realm, and Bastian figures out how to magically conquer it, reappropraite it into his psyche and become god of his own ‘world.’ When he speaks to sophia/Empress at the end, having ‘named’ her, he, as his higher self, had penetrated into the Empresses’ overtly vaginal throne room. It is here that she gives him a “grain of light” and tells him it is another genesis scenario. It is the beginning again, and all is darkness. The empress tells Bastian to make up a whole new world. Bastian is god. He takes the raw stuff of matter from the feminine principle, and imprints upon it form and order. A new order must be brought out of the old chaos. Bastion has opened the gatway/portal to Fantasia and brings his astral realm fantasies into the “real” world of the 1980s, riding that goofy looking dragon around and getting revenge on his bullies. So while much of the film is pure 80s cheese, the actual deeper, esoteric themes and subplots are some of the most overt and pagan I’ve seen yet.