The Neverending Story (1984) – Film Analysis

Original Film Poster

By: Jay 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." Which is: "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 and Atreyu’s pagan, gnostic, occultic, eternal return, Ouroboros, the “Auryn”

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):

“Primitive Hebrew tradition must have conceived of the cherubim as guardians of the Garden of Eden (Gen. iii. 34; see also Ezek. xxviii. 14). Back of this lies the primitive Semitic belief in beings of superhuman power and devoid of human feelings, whose duty it was to represent the gods, and as guardians of their sanctuaries to repel intruders. Compare the account in the Nimrod-Epos, Tablet IX.” (reference) The purpose of this article is not to prove conclusively how close Babylonian griffins were or Egyptian shinxes were to which angelic beings, and is outside of its scope.  However, what is clear is that there are similarities and an association with the sphix guarding a portal or gateway ot the gods, as well as esoteric knowledge due to their riddles, and also an association with initiation.  That is precisely their usage in The Neverending story, as well.  Wikipedia explains of the sphinx in Freemasonry, for example:

If you like this analysis, read the rest of the best and click the image below to order a signed copy of Jay’s book!  This analysis is now redone and in print. 

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20 Comments on The Neverending Story (1984) – Film Analysis

  1. Excellent critique. Didn’t know about the whole anthroposophy angle. Did you yourself attend a Waldorf academy specifically or just a similar type of new age school? What was that like?

    • It was a performing arts elementary in San Diego that was for gifted children under unesco funding. It was green twenty years ago. It was mainly just reading books and discussion as well a lot of art.

      • damn that’s the worst news i’ve heard in a while when worst’ doesn’t have much currency anaywy different currency’: another of morrissey’s devastating ballads he was a real balladeer barstow, cold fingers, inside, long gone what a songwriter! (emphasis on writer’) i saw bill play so many times loved his gallows humor from the stage the only way, i suppose, to leaven the mood of those devastating ballads off white’ another fuckin’ gem containing hope which was of rare currency in bill’s repertoire he had some silly stuff too: like you pick car, i’ll pick the driver’ the united nations songs i loved that guy last time i saw him, i took my mom this was just a few years ago it was the only time i ever saw him less than great he’d just gotten out of rehab and was real shaky the whole thing left me feeling sad but not as sad as thisthanks for your words, PC i’m glad i found out about it HERE ackles

  2. Balthazar is a name attributed to one of the wise men that visit Jesus after his birth. Maybe this name places the main character as, unknowingly, following a trail towards his divinity within. The full name having initials B.B.B. I assume would be significant as well to fully understanding the esoteric depth of this movie, but I have no idea what it would be. As far as this film, and many others from this time period, I couldn’t remember if it was actually something i watched, or some bizarre, inappropriatly emotional dream. Sometimes artwork, especially deeply occult themed artwork, acts on your subconcios and pulls out some seemingly genetic memory, or something hardwired in your brain. If I remember right, the Empress being a young girl was similar in the Matrix. I wouldn’t consider it at all cheesy, especially not by today’s standards of pre-adolescent programming. Its alwasy easy to find the abstractions of any given era of style in music, cinema and art cheesy when viewing them from a 20 year buffer zone and outside of the society of that time. The world was an inocent place before the ghettoization of out culture, and its hard to shrink our scopes back to a smaller viewing angle when we look back in time. In hindsight, I find it very tastfull and elegant, even the synthpop theme song, as a bridge, takeing you from this profound epic and transporting you from the movie back into your regular life. Id like your anaysis of movies because you stay away from the all “I think this is monarch mind controll, mkultra” lingo that everyone else uses and then never explains. Thank you.

  3. Nice critique of the movie. I would HIGHLY recommend that you consider reading the book (a very fast read), as the movie is only about one-half of the book and even that half has unfortunately been modified. I found the ending of the movie rather rushede, but with the book there is a whole other half with which to resolve the story. It just feels more complete (I guess because it is). According to Wiki, he actually wanted to not release the movie because it didn’t fit with his view of the story, but it was too late at that point.

  4. Holy fucking jumping Jesus you just blew my mind!!

    • i wish i could say that i saw that movie and thus could understand evtyrehing you are quoting in this post, but alas, you know i hate flying dog movies. sorry

  5. That’s quite an interesting analysis. I saw the movie in the theater with my Mom who is an English professor. She explained to me that the “the nothing was actually the boy’s depression after the loss of his mother and something that his father, depcited in the guise of the “rock monster” in the fantasywas incapble of challenging it in spite of his strength (If you recall he opens a jar that the boy cannot).

  6. What about our role as the viewer the empress mentions bastions being observed by us I’m sure it was to obvious to mention but I used to watch this movie every day when I was a kid and never caught that bit

  7. I agreed with the majority of the analysis however some of the Christian ideas are a fish out of water with paganism. Alastair Crowley was not a Satanist. Satan is a Christian interpretation of scripture which has scant evidence for. ‘Satan’ means ‘deceiver’ and ‘opposer’ and remember Jesus said ‘Get thee behind me Satan’ to Peter. Not because there is a true entity named Satan but rather he was opposing his will. When Emperor Constantine came to power he assembled the bible and propagated interpretations that suited his state control of religion. Theosophy rather has nothing to do with Christianity nor is it ‘satanic’ rather it is the philosophy of other spiritual dimensions. The snake actually represents the kundalini force which is the life force activated through the seven main chakras. This film viewed through the glasses of Christianity could be considered satanic but I believe as I mentioned previously this was due to propaganda in order to stop people developing gnosis or insights through revelation which is true spiritual progress. The vaginal imagery is clever with the ivory tower however as in Taoism the ‘middle path’ and ‘left handed path’ is facilitated through sexual energy as this stimulates the kundalini force. The book The Neverending Story was my favourite as a child and your analysis was insightful.

  8. I love reading a post that will make men and women think.

    Also, thank you for allowing me to comment!

  9. As a psychotherapist, I find I recommend ‘The Never Ending Story’ to many of my clients. Enough said.

  10. the book is different in many ways from the film. To start with, the films ends in the middle of a book 😀

  11. i rewatched the movie years later after not having seen it since i was a child. since then i have been interested in the occult, the unconscious, etc..etc… and i was completely blown away. really great article. made it even more moving.

  12. sajjad ali // May 13, 2015 at 3:45 pm // Reply

    if ure saying the empress is the goddess and he’s a human god you’ve got it right 🙂

  13. Thanks, just rented this from the library and was noticing some odd themes running through it. Rewatching it as an adult. Oh my!

  14. I would be interested in your thoughts on this movie in relation to Nietzsche. It’s easy to make parallels to the occult (which tends to be esoteric and flaky, especially in related to solipsism etc), but this movie is also just straight up ballsy.

    How many kids programs today would have one of the characters say “Most people, when confronted with their true selves, run away screaming!” That is in line with Jung’s concept of The Shadow.

    How would you relate this movie to Nietzsche’s “eternal return/recurrence”, and the Ubermensch, and the idea of self-overcoming?

  15. This is by far one of my favorite movies.and after reading the well thought out analysis I love this movie even more! My mind has been officially blasted! The comments on here helped me see other points of views as well, like the guy who said “the nothing was actually the depression from his dead mother” which makes sense that he had to name the empress his mother’s own name to stop it..basically making her reborn(in a sense) ..thus ending the nothing… Also I never noticed that he has penetrated his way to her vaginal throne room..the start of a new beginning! Two thumbs up for all of yous 🙂 I’m gonna watch it again with all these new insights!

    • I think reducing “the nothing” to just his dead mother, and the resulting despair, is rather shallow. Of course that’s part of it, but there are also archetypes at play here. For instance, calling out his mother’s name “moon child”, is connected with broader themes of understanding darkness/light, and there relation to each other. The mother/child bond is of course important, but it relates to broader themes. Personally, I think “the nothing” is ultimately Nihilism.

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