Neverending Story: courage, confidence and self-worth. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
One of my two favourite movies is The Neverending Story. Despite the protagonist being a ten year old boy, Bastian; it contains two powerful messages that can be pondered when one is questioning one’s worth and place in the world.
He takes The Neverending Story from a bookshop, intrigued by the advice from the grumpy owner who advised that “this book was not for him,” and to “not to worry about it”. At any rate, his curiosity is piqued and he runs off with the book, finding refuge in a lockable warehouse of some kind at his school, evading a maths test.
As an avid reader by nature, he becomes totally absorbed and engrossed in the book which concerns a world that is dying. It is slowly disappearing, being replaced by a whole, at the hands of the so-called Nothing, in a fantasy world, Fantasia The reason? People in the human world were losing hopes in their dreams. In this way, the two worlds connect.
The champion of the book, Atreyu,is a warrior. By the end of the book, Bastion realises he does have the qualities of this fearless, and infinitely courageous warrior - the protagonist in the fantasy land.
However, for Fantasia to be saved, Bastian has to recognise that he does have courage, confidence and self-worth that he previously did not recognise.
Atreyu accepts the task of finding a way to save Fantasia and the empress of this land with no guide whatsoever.
He trudges through many obstacles. However, I am only going to describe two of the most inspirational ‘gates’ that this young boy himself must pass through to even have a chance at finding success. This is because I am always moved, and reminded of important things to remember in my life; and even though this is a movie you may have first seen as a child, I unashamedly admit I have watched it as an adult as it still inspires me.
The first gate is passing two sphinxes of whose eyes remain shut unless someone who does recognise themselves as being truly worthwhile in their own eyes passes by. We see Atreyu a young boy, terrified but simultaneously courageous summons the knowledge he knows to be true. He is okay. Meanwhile an armoured knight is knocked to the ground.
The second gate is even harder. At first I was not sure why. Upon recently living my own life, I know why.It’s about looking yourself in the eye and facing who you are, and the motivations for doing what you do. This requires courage. Perhaps it’s about self-acceptance. Knowing that you are a combination of good and bad, but that you can face that…
Bastian sees himself reflected, and this is where the book’s second lesson of empathy is entwined around those of courage, confidence and self-worth. Bastian feels everything the young warrior feels through his suffering, as if it was his own pain.
Bastian realises he is Atreyu, in a sense, and has the qualities he doesn’t realise.
Finally when this is realised, a seemingly meaningless, grief-stricken and painful journey finds it purpose when Bastian sees himself reflected in Otrieu, and finds the courage that he is important enough to give the empress a new name.
This is an amazing movie for adults and children alike. It’s about knowing even if the world can make you feel small, you are on equal footing. You are no less. It’s a movie about courage, confidence and self-worth more than anything.