WHEN: 6:20 pm EST, April 9th, 2013
WHERE: The living room of my apartment in Portland
FORMAT: Blu-Ray on a Vizio 32″ LED HDTV
COMPANY: Adam Ferguson
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Chock-full of dinner. Also excited to have company for a viewing.
There are some characters in The NeverEnding Story who maintain their childhood charm. Then there’s Falkor. Falkor, as a child, was fucking awesome. He was a luck dragon with characteristics of a sweet doggy companion. He saved Atreyu from the Swamps of Sadness, brought the hero to the Southern Oracle, and transported him to the Ivory Tower when it looked like Fantasia was a complete loss. And he can fly.
Luck dragon in the sky, I can go twice as high. Take a look, you fell in a book…
Now that I’m older, Falkor is a confusing character. The luck dragon has so much potential, but I’m left questioning his role. Who is he working for? Why is he so creepy? Why is he helping Atreyu? Is he really lucky? Falkor is a luck dragon without any clear motivation, leaving me disappointed and unsatisfied with how much he changes through the eyes of an adult.
Why is it that every time someone joins me for a viewing, I feel awkward as soon as Falkor opens his mouth? It’s not the shoddy puppetry, but the lines he says and the delivery that voice actor Alan Oppenheimer gives. Falkor sounds like he routinely offers young boys candy and rides in his windowless van.
For example, Falkor assures Atreyu, “I like children.” Atreyu is skeptical, but is convinced by a playful wink from the luck dragon. A wink. It’s supposed to be folksy and charming, but translates now as creepy. And for geek cred, Falkor winks a total of three times, all at Atreyu. Falkor then beckons Atreyu over to scratch behind his right ear. For some reason, Atreyu obliges and Falkor makes noises like he’s getting a handski. Since this is Fantasia and anything is possible, it’s possible that luck dragons feel amorous when somebody caresses their ears. Just like the Ferengi.
I’m not sure which Rule of Acquisition this is.
Falkor attempts to further endear himself by letting Atreyu know that he brought the boy to the Southern Oracle. This information was gathered while Atreyu was unconscious because, Falkor reveals, “You talk in your sleep.” Just– I can’t… It’s like a cheesy line from a sexy spy movie, not a children’s film. And now Falkor is even more pedophile-like. How were any of these lines deemed appropriate? I realize that maybe 1984 was a more innocent time, but someone must have taken Wolfgang Petersen aside and asked him to stop catering to NAMBLA.
Then there’s the foreboding chuckle. Falkor sends Atreyu to a small cave opening with the promise of more friends. As Atreyu walks away, Falkor laughs. Ominously. Like there’s something horrible about to happen to our hero. Is this supposed to be a clue that Falkor is secretly evil, perhaps sent by the power behind the Nothing? Is his mission to befriend, then betray Atreyu? Is he sending Atreyu into a sex den? These are all the ridiculous theories I can come up with because of that one creepy laugh.
Other than flying and being faster than Artax, Falkor isn’t much help. Once Atreyu discovers that he must find a human child who resides beyond the boundaries of Fantasia, he enlists Falkor for the trip. Atreyu asks if the luck dragon knows where the boundaries are. Falkor just chuckles his creepy chuckle and responds, “I have no idea.” Thanks, Falkor. You and Atreyu can just aimlessly fly until something happens, maybe. Good plan. Oh, wait, I have to share Falkor’s solution: luck. Luck will help Atreyu find Fantasia’s boundaries. You know what helps me find where places touch other places? A map. Or pulling over to ask for directions.
Seriously, Falkor, you’ve passed the Desert of Shattered Hopes, like, four times.
Falkor is supposed to be seen as a fierce dragon with a heart of gold. He’s fluffy, cotton candy pink with big brown puppy-dog eyes. His appeal is to show children that people aren’t always what they seem. Atreyu assumes that Falkor, being a dragon, eats children. Falkor finds this funny and swears, “Never.” But what does Falkor actually eat? He has canine teeth made for biting and tearing, so he’s no herbivore. Maybe he doesn’t eat anything he can have a conversation with, but how can you be sure in a place like Fantasia?
Wait, how did I not notice the Skeksis and Lion-O?
In the ordinary world, Falkor assists Bastian in terrorizing the bullies. As a kid, Falkor’s roar and laughter were there to assure me that he was only pretending to be fierce and wasn’t going to actually eat the bullies. Not so much assurance, now. Falkor roars as he flies down a city street populated by adults and children, terrifying everybody. Once the bullies are sufficiently dealt with, Falkor lets out a satisfied laugh, happy that he’s had a chance to revel in his dragony ferociousness for a few moments. He assists in a horrible piece of petty revenge gladly.
Destroying lives is fun!
And what is a luck dragon, exactly? Is it a species of dragon or actually lucky? Falkor provides about as much luck as a rabbit’s foot. That would be equivalent to “none” for you superstitious types. His one bit of wisdom is: “Never give up and good luck will find you.” Bullshit. That’s called coincidence. Or chaos theory. Jungians would call it synchronicity. I guess luck is a magic thing that happens in Fantasia, but Falkor’s luck tank needs to be refueled. Yes, he saves Atreyu just before G’mork eats the boy. Falkor was probably sent by the Childlike Empress to keep an eye on Atreyu since she knew he had to get Bastian invested in the quest. This would make Falkor more like a secret service agent or a spy. Which is awesome and helps mitigate all the pedophilia. Falkor also finds the AURYN in the ocean, but as a secret agent for the Childlike Empress, he would of course be able to home in on such a powerfully magic item. Actually, the secret agent thing would also explain why he didn’t give any fucks about finding the boundaries of Fantasia. But the lack of useful “luck” is still staggering. You can’t call yourself a luck dragon and not pull some crazy probability tricks.
Falkor could be a pedophile, a victim of poor writing, an agent of the Nothing, a folksy helper and companion, a broken GPS, a maniacal sociopath, an agent of the Childlike Empress, or useless. His character is so hodge-podge that it’s no wonder he makes me uncomfortable now. I couldn’t see all these possibilities as a child since my decoding skills were still developing. I wish Falkor had just remained a fun companion for Atreyu to me and hadn’t transformed into a list of sinister possibilities.
Graph based on subjective data reporting.