The NeverEnding Story
**½/**** Image C+ Sound B
starring Noah Hathaway, Barret Oliver, Tami Stronach, Moses Gunn
screenplay by Wolfgang Petersen, Herman Weigel
directed by Wolfgang Petersen
by Walter Chaw SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT. About two-thirds of the way through Wolfgang Petersen's The NeverEnding Story, the warrior/child Atreyu (Noah Hathaway) encounters a mirror that reveals a person's true self, and he discovers his reflection is that of Bastian (Barret Oliver, once synonymous with '80s genre fare as the child star of Cocoon, D.A.R.Y.L., and the original Frankenweenie), the reader of Atreyu's story. It's a fascinating, Oedipal (read: Lacanian) moment where the hero, enlisted to save his world from an inexorable plague called "The Nothing," realizes that his quest has led to himself and, more particularly, this self's ability to bestow a name upon his kingdom's stricken mistress (Tami Stronach). Atreyu encounters the mirror after he's survived a pair of gatekeepers who test his perception of himself. He makes it, but barely--suggesting, maybe, that he knows he has an author, but hasn't quite put together that he and his world are a boundless "piece of the hopes and dreams of mankind."