WHEN: 9:07 am EST, December 1st, 2013
WHERE: The living room of my apartment in Portland
FORMAT: Blu-Ray on a Vizio 32″ LED HDTV
COMPANY: Cinemanaut Bill in and out while making his breakfast.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Feeling meh. I greatly dislike the cold, so I’m settling in with some hot coffee.
Cinemanaut Bill posed the question: Could The NeverEnding Story be told in a way that’s relevant to adults? The NeverEnding Story is a children’s movie that grown-ups can enjoy and appreciate, but they’re not the target audience. The themes certainly apply to adults as well as to children.
Everyone wants to ride a dragon, I don’t care how old you are.
If The NeverEnding Story was re-imagined as a film for adults, it would have to be an indie flick. Ideally it would be a mix of Office Space and Garden State. The whole cast would need to be older, but the basic story could remain the same. Bastian’s adult character would remain similar to his child counterpart (Bastian Prime). Adult Bastian would also be an avid reader, perhaps a fantasy nerd. Reading books would be his escape from the depressing reality that surrounds him.
Books are never depressing!
An office setting would be perfect because it’s so similar to schools. The cloying oppression of authority and the slow demise of creativity can be conveyed from a cubicle or a classroom. Adult Bastian would be an office worker in his mid-to-late-twenties. His father would be replaced by a boss who points out all of his recent failings despite the fact that he knows Adult Bastian’s mother recently died. Adult Bastian would be bullied by a few co-workers, too, and hide out in a spare office or storage room when he wanted to avoid them.
The paper clips understand his pain.
The plot of the book could remain the same. Since Adult Bastian’s character is already a facsimile of Bastian Prime, he wouldn’t need a tale that was too different to convince him to save Fantasia. Perhaps the biggest element to consider would be Atreyu. Atreyu is supposed to be the embodiment of all the things Bastian wishes he could be or do. Adult Bastian may accept a child hero, but it would be out of place. Atreyu would need to be closer to Adult Bastian’s age, but still have some sort of handicap so that Adult Bastian could find him relatable. Once that was ironed out, we would be golden.
The one snag that I came across while thinking about this faux film was romance. I feel like indie films and films directed at adults usually have some love stuff in there. My imaginary film wouldn’t have any of that kicking around. I don’t want to see Bastian moping about his breakup with the perfect girl because he couldn’t keep his head out of the clouds and she was looking to settle down. And I don’t want the book parallel to be a romance between Atreyu and the Childlike Empress. Could it work? Yes. But I’m the studio and my notes say to cut that romance crap out; it spoils the big picture.
Sorry, Zooey, there’s no place for you here.
While The NeverEnding Story is targeted at children, the basic themes are universal and definitely translate to the adult world: believe in yourself, do what you dream, be confident, read more books. Adults stuck in jobs they hate could find a hero in Atreyu and Adult Bastian. Adult Bastian would gain confidence knowing that he saved Fantasia and the ordinary world from the Nothing. Adult Bastian might resolve to finally report the workplace harassment.
Who’s canned now?
Adult Bastian would decide to leave his job and pursue some other career that actually interested him and even encouraged his imagination. Maybe he would choose to write his own book about his adventures or join some creative start-up company. Whatever his path, he would be happier, and that’s the biggest goal in life and the largest theme in the film. Everyone wants their own piece of happy pie.