WHEN: 1:29 pm EST, January 27th, 2013
WHERE: In the living room of my apartment in Portland, ME
FORMAT: DVD on a Vizio 32″ LED HDTV
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: A bit tired and somewhat chilly. I’ve had a revelation about The NeverEnding Story as a myth, so I’m poised to take notes on anything moon-related.
REACTIONS OF NOTE:
- The DVD automatically starts after one run-through of the music. Good thing I was ready.
- The DVD quality is quite grainy. There’s a little hair in the opening sequence I can watch travel across the screen.
- Bastian knows that the attic key is available. How often does he hide in there? Also, why is the key hidden behind glass? Is the attic for emergency use only?
Bastian busted the glass during the last math test. Polynomials are a bitch.
- The matte paintings hold up on the DVD. The filters seem brighter, but the colors are a little washed out.
- The Blu-Ray definitely did a nice job cleaning up the green screen shots. The outlines and the coloring look dismal on the DVD.
Let me preface the following with a bit of information about myself. I’ve been a fan of world mythology for most of my life. I can remember being seven or eight years old at the library and choosing American Indian folktales to read. This evolved over time into reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Greek and Roman myths, Chinese folktales, and the Norse Eddas. Throw in Carl Gustav Jung, Sigmund Freud, and Joseph Campbell and you have a very happy Becca. Myths exist as a reflection of the progress of man’s unconscious mind through time. Creation myths evolved into individual heroic tales as human consciousness became more self-aware. If we look at the larger plot of The NeverEnding Story– not the individual hero’s journey– but the story of Fantasia and the Childlike Empress, evidence that this is a moon myth emerges. I’m not crazy, just a bit obsessive about mythology. There’s plenty of evidence that we’re dealing with a classic myth explaining the moon’s phases. Looking at the basic story, Fantasia is a great and prosperous land, then is slowly destroyed by darkness, only to return again.
The biggest clue is the Childlike Empress. Very few cultures exist as matriarchies, yet Fantasia is ruled by a wise female. She exists simultaneously as a young girl and as a wise ancient. The moon is linked to the female principle in 99% of cultures. This is because the phases are associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle. The Childlike Empress is the symbol of the lunar entity. She is also reminiscent of the Greek goddess Artemis. Artemis (the Roman Diana) is the goddess of the moon and of the hunt. The Childlike Empress chooses Atreyu, a hunter, to go on the quest to restore the dying Fantasia.
The Childlike Empress has symbols surrounding her that echo this moon theme. For example, she lives aloft and nearly unreachable in the heart of Fantasia: The Ivory Tower. As we approach the tower, it shines white with the reflected light of the sun, just as the moon does.
When Fantasia lies in ruins, Atreyu and Falkor find it, floating in the vastness of space, still shining with the sun’s light. The tower could be seen as a phallic symbol, but it is more reminiscent, from this view, of being birthed from the mother earth. The tower’s masculine properties are also tempered by the decor. The Childlike Empress resides inside an ivory rose chamber, again evoking more female imagery.
Instead of a crown, the Childlike Empress wears a pearl headpiece. According to Jack Tresidder’s Dictionary of Symbols, the pearl is ” the quintessential symbol both of light and femininity– its pale iridescence associated with the moon, its watery origins with fertility, its secret life in the shell with miraculous birth or rebirth. Hidden light also made the pearl a symbol of spiritual wisdom or esoteric knowledge. The pearl is an emblem both of fecundity and of purity, virginity and perfection.” The passage describes the Childlike Empress through her adornments and her adornments represent her qualities. Thus, she is further linked to the moon.
The Childlike Empress also chooses the AURYN as her protective emblem. The AURYN forms an uroboros (alternately, ouroboros), a symbol of cyclical rebirth. Hans Biedermann remarks in his Dictionary of Symbolism that the uroboros “offers an expressive metaphor for cyclical repetition, for the sequence of ‘ends’ of the world and restorations of it.” The AURYN serves to further solidify the pattern of death and rebirth as a cycle, just as the moon continues its waxing and waning.
Perhaps the most obvious indication that the moon is a huge theme is that Bastian names the Childlike Empress Moonchild. Yes, it’s garbled in the film, but the book confirms it. Bastian chooses his recently deceased mother’s name, which may be evidence of an Oedipus complex, but makes more sense in the mythological interpretation. The Childlike Empress, the leader of a great world, receives a mother’s name just as she is about to rebuild. She possesses the last grain of Fantasia, the seed into which Bastian must pour his dreams and wishes. It takes the two to create a new beginning.
Hardcore myth sex.
Fantasia is slowly being consumed by The Nothing. When the the Childlike Empress meets Bastian after Fantasia has been eradicated, she remarks, “In the beginning, it is always dark.” This is the analogous to the new moon phase for Fantasia and the Childlike Empress. There is no moon in the sky, but it will return and grow to it’s former glory as a full moon. The remark also implies that the Childlike Empress has seen other beginnings and that there is an unending cycle of destruction and rebirth inherent to Fantasia’s existence.
For a little icing to this interpretation, there is the fact that Fantasia’s destruction is heralded by the wolf, G’mork. This echoes Ragnarok (the apocalypse) in the Norse Eddas. I bring this collection of stories up since they were popular in German culture and both Michael Ende, the author of The Neverending Story, and Wolfgang Petersen, the writer and director of the film, are German. (Grimm’s various wolves would also serve equally.) Anyways, as the Twilight of the Gods descends, a great wolf from the underworld leaps and begins to devour the light. In some tellings, the wolf is Fenrir, who was wrongly bound by the gods and who also joins the battle to destroy Asgard and the rest of the world. Ragnarok is often read as a seasonal myth. Near the Arctic Circle, the sun disappears during the winter, but emerges again as spring arrives.
Yes, this analysis may be a bit involved for a children’s movie, but there is certainly enough evidence to prove my point. Children’s stories can have depth like this. Many films intended for kids are filled with allegory and symbols, sometimes only by accident, but The NeverEnding Story smacks of detailed planning. All of these small pieces add up to a coherent whole. I love that I can enjoy the film on a superficial level and that I can also find so many amazing facets. And there’s certainly more to come, dear readers.