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Die Unendliche Geschichte (The NeverEnding Story)

The primary reason I watched this: nostalgia trip. That's it.

Just listening to the opening song by Limahl will already make your hair stand on end. That is, of course, if you were already born when this came out.

One thing this film has successfully done is to make me appreciate old school special effects techniques. I used to laugh and sneer at special effects shots that looked really fake, like when you could tell that it was shot against a blue screen, or when you could tell that a movie monster used animatronics. This movie was a typical early eighties film: bold, and expensive. Bold because it wanted to accomplish stuff that everybody knew couldn't be done properly, yet it simply relied on the audience's suspension of disbelief. Expensive because during its time, this film was the most expensive non-Hollywood film ever made (this film was actually produced by ze Germans). Director Wolfgang Petersen may have been ambitious, but his heart was in the right place.

Old school filmmaking is totally different from modern CGI, in that the interactions are real. Atreyu wasn't pretending to ride Falkor the Luck Dragon, waving around like a fool against an empty backdrop. Atreyu was actually riding the Luck Dragon. And animatronic animals aren't that bad at all. I mean, the black wolf still scares me, twenty-five years after this film's debut. And that choker scene where Artax the horse dies in the swamps? It wouldn't have been much of a tear-jerker if the horse were computer-generated.

So yes, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas may be raking in millions from the computer-generated special effects software they've developed through the years, but still, every filmmaker should have knowledge of the basics. And besides, Lucas wouldn't have developed new school effects without going through the old school methods.

Lesson learned: never, ever diss the old school. It may be an ancient art form, but we wouldn't be where we are now without it.

P.S. There are some talks about some major studios collaborating to do a remake of this film. Yes, the special effects may be quite an eyesore, but for the reasons I stated above, I vote to leave this film alone. Can't screenwriters come up with anything original in this day and age?


*some info from IMDb
pic from ugo.com


Die Unendliche Geschichte (The NeverEnding Story). West Germany. 1984.


Rating: Seven and a half stars.

8 comments :

tina said...

i have fond childhood memories of animatronics in movies... i used to think they were real animals/beasts/whatever 'cause they looked so solid. ^^; this tangibility just hasn't been captured by computer animation, and i'm not sure if it can be. on the other hand, computer animation has made some of my dreams come true... such as seeing yoda fighting the emperor with his tiny lightsaber XD those scenes are priceless. unfortunately, the process of animating yoda eliminated some of the lovable quirks of the original puppet, such as the way he walked (it was so obvious that he was a puppet, but i loved him all the more for it :P), and the way his ears twitched while he was talking. there's this unmistakable character that comes from being solid - the medium gives its own brand of life to the creature being portrayed - and so far computer animation just can't deliver that yet. maybe there's just a limit to optical illusions? ^^; if that's the case, then that's just too bad. really.

there's this article about how the rapid development of computer animation can adversely affect sf/fantasy movies in general ^^ that sounds kinda counter-intuitive, but the insights are pretty interesting. and i'm all for being able to watch movies on handhelds XD hehehe.

J.J. said...

I haven't seen this flick, but when it comes to old time special effects... well I, for one, get the experience of nostalgia when I see them. My brain slows down and I start to think about where I was when (in a lot of senses) when I thought that those effects looked incredible. The beheld becomes the beholden or some such nonsense like that.

@tina: a girl who loves Star Wars is very rare. hahaha.

so imagine a computer-generated admiral ackbar. or an ewok. not quite the same thing. anyway, next on my download list is Labyrinth. hahaha :-D

@J.J.: thank you for your comment. and for more nostalgia, watch jim henson. the nostalgia would be strongest if you were an 80s kid. that was the golden age of pre-CG special effects.

tina said...

@jj haha! i know that feeling... ^^

@sting a computer-animated ewok?? noooooooooooo XP computer animation can't substitute for teh furry kewtness X3 hehe.

in one of my cw classes i had a female classmate who's into star wars too. she's in her thirties though, so maybe she doesn't count? not to mention my teacher from that class, who's also female and is probably around that age. star wars was from their generation (and yours? ^^ peace)... it makes sense for them to like it, or at least have fond memories of it. :D in my case it's just a family thing... i grew up watching star wars videos during the holidays (we own complete vhs, vcd and dvd sets XP hehe); my father and brothers' enthusiasm for it just rubbed off on me.

and now you mention jim henson. i was a fan of the muppet show when i was a kid XD i watched all the episodes on tv, even when they were mostly reruns. i thought jim henson's puppets were the height of technological wizardry as far as imaginary/fantastic creatures were concerned. i was really happy when i found out that yoda was a jim henson creation XD there was this one jim henson show that i really loved, maybe you know it? it's called the storyteller. non-computer-animated awesomeness coupled with clever storytelling. if you haven't seen it put it on your download list too :D hehe.

Anonymous said...

My dog looks like Falcor.

@tina: yes i too have seen all episodes of the jim henson hour. and i loved the storyteller, and john hurt's storytelling. i remember The Heartless Giant, Sapsorrow, and that episode with the devil in a sack. i heart jim henson.

@Anonymous: Hahahaha! God bless you, anonymous person!

i think Lamahl's hair was pretty special wasn't it? and my dog def. does resemble whatitsname. wasn't bowie in this film? he looks so good they could get him to reprise his role...and as for the title - it's so much better in deutsch! but i agree...no more bloody remakes!

@The Captain: Hahaha. Bowie was in Labyrinth. And he does look good. Haha.

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