Monday, February 26, 2007

A Neverending Story

In 1984, Warner Brothers released a movie called The Neverending Story for children. Do you remember it? I can't say that it was as magical as Harry Potter, or as moralistic as The Chronicles of Narnia, but I will say one thing:

I think about the movie at least once a week, and it's been twenty years since I've last seen it.

It taught me that one must know one's own true worth in life, and that facing our true selves can be the hardest task of all.

The plot is a fairly straightforward journey story. The blurb:

Bastian is a young boy who lives a dreary life being tormented by school bullies. On one such occasion he escapes into a book shop where the old proprieter reveals an ancient story-book to him, which he is warned can be dangerous. Shortly after, he "borrows" the book and begins to read it in the school attic where he is drawn into the mythical land of Fantasia, which desperately needs a hero to save it from destruction.

But that says nothing about the scene that has stuck in my mind for over twenty years. In order to save the world Atreyu (sorta Bastien), must go to the Southern Oracle. To do this, he must pass two gates.

The stakes are instant death by zapping. (LOL ... in 1984, that actually looked scary.) The skills needed to pass the gates? Boy, they're deep. Really. And they're why this movie has stayed with me for so long.

Engywook:
It's the first of the 2 gates you must pass through before you reach the Southern Oracle... Of course, most people never get that far.

Atreyu:
Why?

Engywook:
The sphinx's eyes stay closed until someone who does not feel his own worth tries to pass by... The sphinxes can see straight into your heart.

Of course, we get to see several people fail and die. When Atreyu goes through, the sphinx's eyes open, and he barely makes it through.

Engywook:
You don't understand anything! The worst one is coming up. Next is the Magic Mirror gate. Atreyu has to face his true self.

Falkor:
So what? That won't be too hard for him.

Engywook:
Oh ! That's what everyone thinks. But kind people find that they are cruel, brave men discover that they are really cowards. Confronted with their true selves most men run away screaming !

Go to this NeverEnding Story fansite to view the scene: Atreyu and the Mirror.

Nearly every week, I'm confronted with a truth about myself, my choices, and my life, that I'd rather not look at. I just finished a Career Check-Up Challenge at AuthorMBA. We looked at every aspect of ourselves and our career: goals, financials, visions, time, organization, priorities, reputation, skills, etc. Everything. A ton of people signed up.

But about 95% stopped doing the homework. They stopped looking at themselves in the mirror. It's just about the hardest thing to do. It hurts; it's uncomfortable. I procrastinated putting it off for a whole week!

Thanks to this movie, I finally said to myself: looking in the mirror is the hardest thing to do in this battle for a fulfilled life.

9 bonus scribbles:

meljean brook 2/26/2007 05:17:00 PM  

This movie is an enormous influence on me and my writing. I see it about once a year, and can't look away each time (and I ALWAYS bawl at the point where he decides to shout his mother's name through the window. Ah, crap. I'm tearing up now just thinking of it.)

But everything -- the Nothing, the creature of darkness (that scared the piss out of me when I was a kid) the Oracle ... just everything.

spyscribbler 2/26/2007 05:42:00 PM  

Wow! I've never met anyone else that's seen it, let alone someone else that was as profoundly affected. Isn't it the most amazing movie?

It's only 6.99 on DVD; I need to get it and watch it again!

Rob Brooks 2/26/2007 07:19:00 PM  

I actually saw the sequel first (ironically called "Neverending story 2: The last chapter."). Right afterward my cousin and I rented the first movie and watched it. That was the only time I've ever seen either one, although I got the first one from the library a few weeks ago. I didn't have enough time to watch it, though.

But I never forgot it. My wife still shouts "Atreyu!" through the house sometimes when the urge strikes her (she erroneously thought that Atreyu was his horse that gets stuck in the quicksand).

spyscribbler 2/26/2007 07:28:00 PM  

What did you think of the second one? I think I saw half of it, but it didn't do the same thing for me. I even saw a little of the cartoon series, but I didn't much like that, either.

I heard there's a book. I have to find it!

Edie 2/26/2007 08:32:00 PM  

It's been years since I've seen that movie. I remember thinking it was okay, but obviously the profundity escaped me. I'll have to rent it.

spyscribbler 2/27/2007 12:21:00 AM  

I don't know why it stuck with me, Edie. I remember thinking when I watched the mirror thing, that I was learning Something Important. I didn't understand it, but I knew it was meant to be profound.

Here I am twenty years later, finally starting to figure it out, LOL.

Therese 2/27/2007 08:46:00 AM  

I love that these kinds of profundities are in kids' movies and books! If only we got the messages way back then, right?

Your message here is a good one. I'm going through a similar process of self-assessment (maybe because I *finally* have the career I've struggled for--a life-altering truth).

Good for you that you're not shying away from that mirror!

Michele 2/27/2007 01:25:00 PM  

Such an insightful post!

I used to watch The NeverEnding Story (and sing the song) over and over and over and it always stressed me out: the Magic Mirror, the Nothing, the sphinxes. And I could never figure out Bastian's mother's name...the one he shouts into the storm. It's funny because I was just thinking about that this past weekend. :-)

Anonymous,  8/11/2016 10:48:00 AM  

I love the
movie
..I used to watch it several times before going to sleep.