WHEN: 8:18 am EST, February 16th, 2013

WHERE: In the bedroom of my mom’s place in Eddington, ME

FORMAT: DVD on a 32″ Toshiba TV with combination VHS and DVD player

COMPANY: My mom and her dog, Buffie

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Just woke up. I have a nice cup of coffee. I’m also a bit sick with a sore throat and cough, so it feels nice to be hanging with my mom on a lazy weekend.

REACTIONS OF NOTE:

  • Dammit, I forgot that Bastian’s love of horses is established at his breakfast conversation with dad. It makes Artax’s death even more emotional.
  • Mr. Koreander talks about Captain Nemo being stuck on his submarine. I think Wolfgang Petersen wrote that specifically because of his other film/mini-series, Das Boot. If you didn’t know, it’s about being on a German submarine during WWII.
  • When the stupid bat gets ready for takeoff to the Ivory Tower, my mother commented, “Now that’s a real bat-mobile.”
  • My mother’s comment about Engywook and Urgl’s cave: “Ancient meth lab.”

Bat Wing Broth is the street name for Urgl’s recipe.

  • My mother insists that The NeverEnding Story and The Lion King are her favorite children’s movies.

THOUGHTS:

Throughout my whole viewing I kept waiting for my mom to say things or comment on the film more. She was a pleasant person to watch this with since she didn’t talk over the movie too much. She did say to me, “I used to watch this with you all the time when you were a little girl. This and that stupid Robin Hood over and over and over. Jesus, I got sick of it!” So, I was a little spoiled as a child. This meant that I usually got to read and watch whatever I wanted. And since I was not a wild child like my siblings, my viewing choices were not monitored as strictly as they perhaps should have been.

Let me explain some of my movie-watching history. As a wee child, I watched your normal kid’s movies, mostly Disney, which is typical. However, as a young child, perhaps age five, my mother and I lived with her boyfriend who had a daughter about four years older than me. As a result of her more “mature” movie choices, I saw many movies that I can admit now were entirely inappropriate for me. Examples would include mostly horror films like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser, Friday the 13th, Alien, Candyman, and any other permutations within those franchises. I spent many nights sleeping on the couch because of nightmares. But, my mother let me watch these films only reminding me, “It’s only a movie. It’s so fake.”

Very real to a five-year-old.

Needless to say, this lack of supervision continued into my adolescence. I’m not a huge fan of censorship. I’m also not a huge fan of sheltering children from films. However, I do think that each individual child’s capacity to comprehend the difference between reality and film needs to be considered. Young children do not understand visual effects and make-up and CG unless someone explains movie magic to them. I was one of those uninformed children.

Most parents use the MPAA and CARA to decide if a film is appropriate. The film rating system has its flaws, but most people get the gist of what a rating potentially means for a movie. If you take a quick look at the history of the film rating system, you can see how it has evolved to fit the changing landscape of movies. In 1984, the addition of the PG-13 rating allowed for a larger middle ground in which film makers could play. The NeverEnding Story was released in July 1984, months before the December release of The Flamingo Kid, the first movie to receive the PG-13 rating. Utilizing the MPAA and the film rating system, is PG the correct rating for The NeverEnding Story, or should it receive a higher or lower rating?

If we look at the qualifications for a G-rated film, The NeverEnding Story does not fit. According to the MPAA website, in a G rated movie “depictions of violence are minimal. No nudity, sex scenes or drug use are present.” Bastian contends with minimally violent bullies. But I would call Atreyu stabbing G’mork with a stone dagger, leaving trails of blood on his hands, violent. The rotting knight is a bit gory, too. And while there is no sex, there are prominent breasts on the sphinx gate and the Southern Oracle. Also, no drugs, unless you agree with my mom and believe that Urgl’s potions are a front for her crystal meth operation.

For a PG-13 rating, “any drug use will initially require at least a PG-13 rating. More than brief nudity will require at least a PG-13 rating, but such nudity in a PG-13 rated motion picture generally will not be sexually oriented. There may be depictions of violence in a PG-13 movie, but generally not both realistic and extreme or persistent violence. A motion picture’s single use of one of the harsher sexually-derived words, though only as an expletive, initially requires at least a PG-13 rating.” There’s no drug use in The NeverEnding Story. The stone breasts may be considered non-sexual nudity, but I think that since they are not fleshy mammary glands attached to an attractive female, they get a pass. G’mork’s blood seems a bit extreme, but there’s no theme of stabbings or bloody fights anywhere else in the film. And finally, not a single swear or curse word is uttered. The closest we get is Engywook calling Urgl a “wench” three times for humor purposes.

Some sheltered kid’s wanking material.

So, PG seems the most appropriate rating. Now, as a responsible adult, at what age do you decide to show this movie? There are some scary scenes: the Nothing destroying Fantasia, G’mork, Bastian being thrown into a dumpster, Artax dying, G’mork, Atreyu nearly being blasted my magic sphinx eyes, G’mork, Fantasia’s annihilation, and G’mork’s death. Having been exposed to certain films that were too mature for me, I would recommend age 6 or 7. At this point, you can talk about how cartoons and movies are both fake. Nobody gets hurt and there are no demon wolves out to destroy you. Yes, a child might still be frightened, but I still get spooked by horror films. Emotions occur when a movie does the job of putting them in you. Good on you, films. It’s up to an adult to teach a child what to do after.

It’s important to think about how movies affect children. With Netflix and Hulu so easily accessible these days, we’re basically handing children the internet and walking away saying, “Good luck!” Now, especially, viewing should be monitored for children. To some extent. In my opinion, I’d be more likely to monitor violence than sexuality. Sex is not dirty, but it’s not okay to hit other people, I might explain to my hypothetical 6-year-old child. In the end, The NeverEnding Story has a message that outweighs any scariness or violence. Encouraging children to read, to dream, and to continue to imagine even in the face of adult nay-sayers is more important to share. Sheltering a child based on your own fears is unfair to the child. The world itself is scary, but we teach our children how to cope, live, and thrive in it. The same goes for the world of motion pictures.