The NeverEnding Story Remake – With Leonardo DiCaprio?

Posted on 20 March 2012
By Martin Higgins
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If you happen to be an 80’s kid, then there is a good chance The Neverending Story played a part in your formative years, offering up a fertile landscape of pure fantasy for your growing imagination to explore.

Like all good fantasy tales, it crossed the fine line between light and dark, good and evil, and tackled some challenging issues around loss. It was pure escapism at its best.

Films that do this well, like Labrynth and The Page Master which are also of this era, quite often stand the test of time. Even later films like the highly graphic Pan’s Labrynth took this antagonism to its very heart.

One scene in particular is burnt across the retina of anyone who watches it, one involving the sadistic Captain Vidal and a rather large knife. Gruesome.

The original film was directed by Wolfgang Petersen, and followed the trials and tribulations of Bastian Balthazar Bux, a young boy who discovers a parallel world in a book entitled The NeverEnding Story in the attic of his school, a world that is in grave danger of being consumed by The Nothing. It is a parable about the loss of imagination and cynicism in the real world.

Bastian is something of a loner, and immerses himself in the narrative to compensate for his solitary existence. Only as he gets deeper into the storyline, it becomes apparent that his life is inextricably linked with the protagonist, a young warrior named Atreyu.

The two of them journey across Fantasia, through the deadly Swamps of Sadness to see the ancient Morla, only Atreyu’s horse (Artax) meets a sticky end in one of the most sobering scenes in the film, swallowed whole by the mud.

Only his trusty companion Falcor the luckdragon saves him from the poisonous lake as the vicious wolf-like creature Gmork closes in.

Rumours were swirling as far back as 2009, as Leonardo DiCaprio’s company Appian Way held preliminary talks with Warner Bros about the potential of a reboot.

The current state of the film is veiled in uncertainty. Imdb have listed 2014 as a tentative release date for a new film, but there is no clear signals from any other reputable news sources as to where the project currently stands.

The 25-year-old franchise has aged well, but fans can only imagine how spectacular a remake could look with modern special effects and CGI.

The sticking point at the moment surround the rights to the film, and the numerous legal obstacles standing in the way of a potential remake, as other films such as Inkheart have used similar characters and plot devices. All this bureaucracy has left in the current project in limbo.

Producer Kathleen Kennedy has bemoaned the politics around The NeverEnding Story, saying: “Nothing’s ever been able to be resolved with the rights, unfortunately. It’s very, very complicated with Warner Bros., and other books that have been written with similar characters.”

“It’s too bad, because there’s an opportunity with that book because it’s so beautifully written, but I guess it’s not meant to be.”

Since the film’s original release there have been two sequels, which have their individual charms but do not come close to the first in terms of quality, and poor scripts hampered the success of both.

The first sequel debuted in 1996 in the States and went straight to video, a sure sign a film is not firing on all cylinders.

But interest in the original film has never waned, and a number of big names have come out and expressed a desire to update this old classic.

For instance, the Kennedy/Marshall Company, who were instrumental in delivering Brad Pitt and David Fincher’s third body of work, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, have also held discussions with Warner Bros. So there could be exciting times ahead.

In the meantime, fans can only wait in anticipation and use whatever powers of imagination they possess to envisage their heroes, Bastian and Atreyu, riding atop Falcor, chasing down The Nothing and seeking out amazing adventures across Fantasia, perhaps with Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in the cast list somewhere. We can dream.

Words by Martin Higgins, at