The Backstage Magic of The NeverEnding Story

One of the most adored and cherished children’s movies of the 1980s is the charming fantasy tale, The NeverEnding Story. The movie follows a boy named Bastian who reads a book about a warrior tasked with preventing “the Nothing” from consuming his magical world. The family film is treasured by kids and adults alike. The mythical tale also introduced audiences to an array of memorable characters, such as Atreyu, the Moon Child, and Teeny Weeny.

Atreyu rides the white dragon.
Source: Copyright: Warner Bros.

This movie is jam-packed with enchanted fantasy, magical creatures, and magnificent moments that either crack us up or traumatize us for life (if you’ve seen the film, you know which scene I’m talking about). Buckle up and join us on our exciting journey into the behind-the-scenes magic of The NeverEnding Story.

The Most Expensive Movie in German Cinema

If you are an American fan, you may be surprised to find out that The NeverEnding Story is technically a German film. It was directed by acclaimed German director Wolfgang Peterson and filmed mostly in Germany. Before The NeverEnding Story, Petersen’s most successful movie was Das Boot, which was the most expensive film in German cinematic history at the time.

Noah Hathaway as
Photo by dpa/picture alliance/Getty Images

One to always outdo himself, Peterson had an enormous budget for The NeverEnding Story and easily surpassed his previous work. The production spent a whopping $27 million! That may not seem like a lot of money, but if you calculate inflation, that is about $65 million in today’s money.

Atreyu Got Injured on Set

Making a movie comes with its own set of risks, but for the kid who played Atreyu, it almost cost him an eye. Noah Hathaway was injured on several occasions while filming the movie. He was thrown off a horse which they stepped on him. But it was during the final fight scene between Atreyu and the Gmork that the young actor almost lost an eye.

Noah Hathaway gets scared in a scene from the film.
Photo by Impress Own/United Archives/Getty Images

The Gmork robot started to malfunction, and one of its claws slashed the child actor on the face – right next to his eye. It was super heavy, so Hathaway lost his breath completely when it fell on him, and his injuries were pretty bad. Since he got hurt, there is only one take of that scene, which is what you see on screen.

The Childlike Empress Wore Dentures

When you are working on a set with children, it’s important to follow child labor laws. Kids could only work for a short amount of time, and a guardian must be present. Honestly, this is something that should be expected. Someone has to make sure the child actors are being protected.

Tami Stronach as the Empress.
Photo by kpa/United Archives/Getty Images

Another thing that should be expected when working with a blossoming 11-year-old is that missing teeth is inevitable. Tami Stronach was still losing her baby teeth due to the natural course of growing up when she played the Childlike Empress. Directors felt that missing teeth would be distracting to audiences, so they fitted the young starlet with flippers – fake teeth, common with child stars. (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen famously wore flippers on famous).