Friday, August 10, 1984
The Michigan Daily
'Story' never gets going
By Richard Campbell
F ANTASY filmmaking has almost
regained the respect of serious
critics. Not only have millions of eager
moviegoers shown their interest in such
epics by pouring millions of dollars into
the coffers of the major studios, but
many gifted directors have recently
used the genre in their films.
After the cold science-fiction of THX-
1138 and the warm high-school hi-jinx of
American Graffiti, George Lucas
played out the three-act space saga,
Star Wars; Steven Spielberg began
with the serio-comic Sugarland Ex-
press and thrilling Jaws and turned to
the epic Close Encounters of the Third
Kind and the serialized Indiana Jones;
Peter Yates, who had given us fast-
paced Bullitt and the small-town
Breaking Away, lately filmed the other-
worldly Krull. Now, Wolfgang Peter-
sen, who wowed American audiences
with the claustrophobic Das Boot, takes
us on a flight of fancy to the faraway
land of Fantasia in The Neverending
Not surprisingly Petersen is one of
Germany's most celebrated directors
and has been involved with countless
TV and movie productions. The inter-
national success of Das Boot,
nominated for best director and best
screenplay adaptation, certainly
proved Petersen's ability to work with
actors and draw from them performan-
ces of a unique and intense character.
Unfortunately little of that ability is
demonstrated in The Neverending
Story. Not only is the plot fragmented
into the most derivative of sections, but
the characters never rise out of the or-
dinary fantasy fare.
Even for those that have never read
the book, like myself, there can be no
doubt that the literary version is the
better of the two, for the film's chief
gimmick and most interesting festure
concerns the interaction between a
novel and the reader's imagination.
Tami Stronach as the Empress and Barret Oliver as Bastian plan to save the fantasy world of Fantasia from destruction
by The Nothing in Wolfgang Petersen's 'The Neverending Story'.
The star of the story is a hapless
child, Bastian, whose mother recently
died. Bastian's dad tries to make up for
the loss but can't get over reciting
platitudes like, "Get your head out of
the clouds," "Put your feet on the
ground," to the child.
After a brush with some classroom
bullies, Bastian retreats to a bookstore
where a gruff but loveable store owner
allows him to borrow a book titled The
Neverending Story. Bastian goes to
school, but hides in the attic all day
reading the fantasy novel.
As Bastian reads, he slowly becomes
a part of the story, guiding the action
and influencing events with the power
of his imagination.
It is an interesting idea, but one that
is undoubtedly better suited to a
reading format. When Bastian is finally
completely pulled into the world of Fan-
tasia, he is told that his imagination and
powers are the same as those of the
Bars and Clubs
The Blind Pig - Friday night the
Fabulous Checkers challenge you to a
game of wild dancing and good fun.
Saturday night it's rockabilly meets
Seargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts
Club Band with the Flying Tigers.
Joe's Star Lounge - Steve Nardella
and Trio are all set to rock both
Friday and Saturday nights.
Mr. Flood's Party - Al Hill and the
Headlites take you back a bit with
strong doses of Motown, '60s Soul, and
rock like they played it when Buddy
Holly was around, Friday and Satur-
Rick's American Cafe - Friday
and Saturday nights both it's a taste of
Southern rock with the Skyles
American Buffalo - David Hun-
sberger directs the David Mamet
story about three small-timers who
decide to try and strike it big by
stealing a valuable coin collection.
The play features very strong per-
formances by David Bernstein, David
Isaacson, and Gregg Henry.
Showtime is 8p.m. Friday, Saturday,
Sunday, and Thursday nights at the
Performance Network. Tickets are $6
for Friday and Saturday and $5 for
Thursday and Sunday with discounts
available for students and seniors.
For more information call 663-0681.
Ann Arbor Summer Orchestra -
Harvey Felder conducts the sym-
phony in its final concert of the sum-
mer season. Scheduled pieces include
the "Oberon" overture of Weber,i. e
Cid by Massenet, Mendelssohn's
Reformation, and Tchaikovsky's
March Slav. The concert begins at
8:30 p.m. Saturday night at Hill
Auditorium. Admission is free.
Footloose - As part of the Michigan
Voice coffeehouse, Ann Arbor's most
popular country/bluegrass band
plays Wednesday night at 8 p.m. at
Dominick's. Admission is $3.
Flint Symphony Orchestra - The
orchestra is in need of several
musicians for the positions of:
violinist (3), viola, principal bass,
principal oboe, principal horn, 3rd
horn, and percussion. Actual
auditions will not be held until Sep-
tember, but appointments can be
made now by calling Chris Schaum-
berg at 238-9651.
Dance Theater 2 Scholarship - The
theater will be awarding the Julie
Putnam scholarship to a student
taking classes at the studio in the fall.
Applications can be turned in at the
Studio (711 N. University) through
September 4. For more information
contact Judith Kahn at 995-4242.
people that are reading his story, i.e.
the viewer. Of course, when you are
watching the film version of the novel,
that immediate thematic impact is lost.
Yet it is in the relatively unimportant
area of creating and maintaining the
fantastic world of Fantasia that the
film bogs down and grows stale. Fan-
tasia is being consumed by The
Nothing, a great vortex that is
gradually destroying the beautiful lan-
ds and odd animals. The one person
that can save this land is Atreyu, a
fierce warrior, small boy, and alter ego
to Bastian. The plot limps onward as
Atreyu travels from one place after
another meeting unusual but unin-
The problem lies not in the standard
fantasy plot of the movie, but with the
dull manner in which that plot is
executed. The acting of the variously
costumed and made-up actors seems
more suited to children's theater. With
broad gestures and gross facial ex-
pressions, any subtlety or charac-
terization is lost on the close-up world of
the silver screen.
In addition, the adorable critters that
Atreyu meets and Bastian imagines
range from the passable to the silly.
And finally, the special effects seem to
work only half the time.
The only actors worth mentioning are
Barret Oliver as Bastian and Tami
Stronach as the Empress. Oliver
manages the naive and open-eyed role
of the reader-savior quite nicely, while
Stronach, though only ten-years-old,
presents a character of impressive
maturity and ageless beauty.
The music by Giorgio Moroder and
Klaus Doldinger includes an acceptable
rhythmic epic theme as well as an in-
sipid top-40 style bomb based on the