WHEN: 5:03 pm EST, October 2nd, 2013
WHERE: The living room of my apartment in Portland
FORMAT: Blu-Ray on a Vizio 32″ LED HDTV
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Eating dinner after a long day at work.
I like to think of myself as a scientifically-minded individual. The world around us is understandable through the use of logic and science. There are no mysterious forces (only things we haven’t been able to measure yet) or beings who control the universe: it’s sweet, beautiful science. This mindset is responsible for my dislike of the fantasy genre. The NeverEnding Story doesn’t bother me too much since the message at the end is to read more and dream big, the perfect type of encouragement any budding scientist needs. But I finally figured out what does bother me: Falkor.
“Who needs empirical evidence when you have luck?”
It’s not just his creep factor that I’m talking about. Falkor embodies what I don’t like about people who just assume the world around them has some sort of cosmic plan attached to it and that they are just being swept along down the stream of existence. That’s bullshit, Falkor. The luck dragon epitomizes destiny and fate which I just can’t get behind. Those thoughts are the gateway to believing you have no choices or control over your own life.
When Atreyu awakens from his coma, he’s vulnerable, but relieved to still be alive. He only remembers the glowing clouds parting and a flying, white figure descending to save him from near death.
Fantasia: where angels look more like dragons.
Falkor’s role as a celestial savior and messenger is too close to religion for my tastes. What really rankles me is his nonchalant attitude towards Atreyu’s desperate quest. Falkor’s bit of wisdom is: “Never give up and good luck will find you.” Bah! Perhaps this is good advice in a fantasy world where everything will be fine in the end because good always prevails over evil. In the real world, this is dumb advice. It’s like saying, “Keep beating your head against that immovable object and eventually something good will come along.” Double bullshit, Falkor.
Falkor’s advice is supposed to seem folksy and endearing, but it’s not. In a film that encourages Bastian to dream and rally against his father’s advice to be responsible, telling kids to just sit around and things will work out is just so not the message. Bastian has to take charge, make a choice, and stand up for himself. He doesn’t just accept the hand he’s been given. If he had, then Fantasia would’ve been doomed.
Not the best day in the Empress’ reign.
Falkor is a force that believes in destiny and fate. Events will unfold as they should and wherever you are and whatever you’re doing is exactly what should be. We are all part of a larger plan that we may not know about, but if we have any doubts, then Luck, take the wheel. This mentality is why I despise people who get shafted in some way and shrug it off by saying, “There’s a reason for everything.” No, there’s not. The reason that you didn’t get that promotion was because you need more experience and you’re always late to meetings. These are things you have control over.
Life is random circumstances. Random. With no intent. When Falkor mentions luck, it implies purpose. Lady Luck, the Wheel of Fortune, synchronicity, etc. are personifications that suggest a force is behind the events that occur in our lives. There’s no man behind the curtain, people. At least not in the ordinary world.
Except for Pat Sajak.
Fantasy stories are consistently guilty of using fate and destiny to spur their heroes into action. It’s the way fantasy works. But destiny has the negative side effect of teaching that free will doesn’t exist. We are not at the mercy of an unseen force driving us to some intended conclusion. We are all on a chaotic ride through life. There’s no meaning behind events except what we attach to them. Surrounded by this tumultuous universe, what we can do is make our own choices and deal with the consequences, awesome or shitty. The NeverEnding Story sends conflicting messages: take charge of your dreams and let luck do all the work. Between Falkor seeming like a religious symbol and giving advice about luck, he just reiterates all the things I dislike about the fantasy genre.