The Childlike Empress is Desire
Think about it: the golden-eyed commander of wishes
. And she(or s/he?) is described as "neither human nor Fantastican" and as more beautiful than any other character or person. What's more, it would not be out of character for Desire to set up a realm like the Dreaming and make itself the fickle ruler of it, just to piss Dream off.
- But the Desire would meddle with things - that's what s/he is and that's what s/he does. The Childlike Empress never meddles directly.
The Childlike Empress is Apathy.
The Childlike Empress doesn't care if humans escape from Fantastica or not, even though she can't live without them. Also, she shows signs of Sloth by not giving orders.
The Childlike Empress is Dream
The Childlike Empress is a child's vision of Dream, and the Auryn is one of his Dream Gems. We know the Endless look different depending on who sees them (Martian Manhunter sees him as a flaming skull while Shazam simultaneously sees him as we do) and Fantastica is the world of story and archetype just like the Dreaming. The Old Man of Wandering Mountain is either Destiny, or a dream of Destiny: since stories of the Endless are told, then Dreams of the Endless exist.
The Neverending Story is one big metaphor of the Thelemic philosophy/religion
The entire story is built around the desire to realize one's True Will through going through multitudes of inferior wishes that may help or hinder you in this search. The AURYN is inscribed with the words "Do what you wish", a variation of the Code of Thelema: "Do what thou Wilt, shall be whole of the Law". Like many unfamiliar with the philosophy, Bastian assumes it's a hedonistic command to do as you please, when its real purpose is to encourage you to find your deepest Wish, that is, your True Will.
- Confirmed by the author in a text in his Nachlass, with some bashing of the movie for good measure: "[...] der Satz ursprünglich aus dem Englischen stammt, und zwar von dem Schriftsteller Aleister Crowley (gestorben 1947), und dort heißt: Do what thou wilt (feierliches Kirchenenglisch). Das Do what you dream! ist Petersens Interpretation, und zwar die falsche. Es ist genau der Irrtum, dem auch Bastian unterliegt und um dessentwillen er aus Phantásien nicht mehr zurückfindet. Auch er meint zunächst, es ginge darum, zu tun, was man wünscht, ersehnt, gern möchte. Der Löwe Graógráman wird zornig, als Bastian ihm diese Deutung sagt. Seinen Wahren Willen finden, heißt ganz und gar nicht, zu tun, was man möchte. Diese Formel Tu, was du willst! geht über Rabelais bis zum Heiligen Augustin zurück." note
And Bastian's true wish at the end is to love and be loved, which mirrors how the Code continues: "Love is the Law, Love under Will". And finally, the name which Bastian gives to the Childlike Empress is Moon Child, which is almost certainly a direct reference to a novel and ritual by the same name from Aleister Crowley, the founder of the Thelemic faith. There are many other lesser parallels, but these are the most noticeable.
- The ritual described above is from "Liber Astarte" and is a form of invocation through ritual. A version that combines both ritual AND immersion is described in the novel Moonchild.
The movie's Ivory Tower design
In the movie, the Ivory Towers top is designed to look like a flower. Flowers are where seeds come from, and what does the Childlike Empress give the hero at the end?
The Neverending Story is influenced by Ancient Egyptian religion.
The Nothing is strikingly similar to Isfet, the Egyptians' Big Bad
, while G'mork takes the role of Apep, its (fairly literal) dragon
The G'mork was lying about Fantastica being the world of human fantasy.
Or at least choosing his words carefully. Fantastica isn't the realm of the fantasies of all of mankind, it's the world born of the imagination of one specific person at a time. The one that dreamed up Fantastica? Moon Child. When she died, Fantastica passed onto her son who was the only person in the world to be as greater dreamer as she was. So why is Fantastica dying? Because Bastian is so broken up with grief over his mother's death, that he can't dream as he once did. The description of the Nothing and its effects sound very similar to depression caused by grief. A dead emptiness, a loss of hope, an inability to imagine or dream, etc. The Nothing is a manifestation of Bastian's depression. Hell, it's servant is a literal black dog that pursues the story's protagonist who is part of Bastian. This explains why the Nothing is a recent phenomenon and why Bastian finally starting to move beyond his grief and be able to dream again, is what destroys it. The explanation that's sort of given as to why the Nothing has just now suddenly started to appear is the usual New Media Are Evil
excuse. But that doesn't really make sense when you think about it. For one, TV and video games rotting a person's brain is suspect anyway. Plus, Fantastica is meant to be human fantasy, not just book
human fantasy. So, what, people like Disney, Miyazaki and Newell have no imagination? Don't buy it for a second. Human fantasy may be evolving with new media, but it isn't dying. Finally there's just the sheer numbers to contend with. There're more people alive in Bastian's time than have ever been. So even if ninety percent of human beings had lost the ability to dream through watching TV, there still should be enough left to keep Fantastica alive. What about cultures that have no new media? Don't they count? Anyway, Bastian pushes through the funk he'd been lost in, decides to dream again and Fantastica is healed. When he dies, it'll pass onto someone else and keep on going forever that way. As for why the G'mork lied to Ateyu, either he just didn't know (why would he? The Nothing is never presented as being all knowing, just powerful and deadly) or he didn't want to give away too much. Fun to torment Atreyu, too dangerous to tell him the truth.
The Childlike Empress is actually evil
She's been around for thousands of years, so the only way she can entertain herself is by torturing whoever picks up the book. Bastian was just lucky enough to get away.
- When would she risk being trapped in a time loop just for some entertainment?
- (this is the original poster) I was saying that she was never in any actual danger. She was just kinda faking it. I might have missed something in the book, but since she's supposed to be something like the goddess of the place, it would have been easy enough to fake something like this, right?
- She certainly wasn't in any danger from The Nothing, but the time loop was caused by the Old Man On Wandering Mountain who's the same kind of being she is. Though it could still work if he is also evil.
- The Old Man warned her quite strongly that neither he nor she would be able to escape the time loop unless her Batman Gambit worked and Bastian named her.
Ende named the sorceress Xayide so he would have an "X."
The book's chapters follow an alphabetical order pattern of the first word, thus her name serves well for the difficult "X" word in Chapter 24. After all, it would be hard to start a chapter with "X-ray" or "Xylophone." A similar case can be made for Chapter 26, maybe Chapter 25 (I can't remember).
- Chapter 25. It had to start with the also difficult "Y", and the character Yor provided a good example for this. Chapter 26 began with, "Zigzagging."
- Don't forget Q, which was lucky enough to get Queroquobad.
- "Z" is not that difficult in German, being much more common than in English, so Ende didn't have to work for that one (the word that starts the chapter in German is "zögernd" - "hesitatingly"). "Q", "X" and "Y", on the other hand, are very probably cases of characters invented for the sake of having appropriate words to start the chapters. There are a few other chapters that start with characters' names where that doesn't apply, though ("C" and "F", for instance).
The Sphinxes let people through based on how good their stories are.
Engywook can't find any scientific pattern based on physical traits, causes, or anything else that he can observe. However, he can't tell which of the inhabitants of Fantastica is leading the most interesting life and is the hero of an important story. What could be a more diverse group, in such a manner that only them being let through seems random, than the protagonists of stories? Red Shirts
, Flat Characters
, and others of their ilk are kept out, while people who are the heroes of important stories get through, regardless of why they have come. This ensures that the ones who really need to get to the Oracle will get through, and not just anyone will be able to get Uyulala's advice.
Think about it. He writes the story as it happens, the way that the author would, and he's not just recording events, no, no, no. "Everything I write down, happens
." He's also one of the most powerful beings in Fantastica, the only one who is of a stature similar to the Empress, and Bastian refers to him again later in the story as the one writing the book.
Every person who visits Fantastica but doesn't succeed in leaving it ends up as a lobotomized zombie imprisoned in the City of Old Emperors for all eternity. This happens because, at the moment they crown themselves Emperor or Empress, the Childlike Empress sucks out their mind and soul
and melds them into her personality, leaving only a clueless body who is too incompetent to operate a blanket behind. This explains why the Empress is so unfathomably neutral
; she's taken on the minds and personalities of so many distinct humans that she can no longer take just one opinion on anything, except preserving and continuing Fantastica.
Perhaps it was just a relic from an earlier script and the Nasties were supposed to alter Fantastica more drastically than they did and Bastian was meant to have to escape their warped Fantastica but they didn't have the funds to make a more realistic Fantastica, so they rewrote it to mostly take place in the real world and already had the 'altered' character's scenes made (once more, no reshoots due to lack of funds). This would also explain why the subtitle is "Escape From Fantastica", despite in the actual movie, that's insanely easy to do. Think about it, wouldn't it make sense?...Or at least be a much better story?
- The opening scene suggested that things were turning to shit even before the Nasties discovered the book.
Everything is really Fantastica and there is no real world
I have been able to successfully wish things into existence and there's a book with a weird snake symbol in my room.
And Helena has the Auryn somewhere on her. Maybe it's a small sun logo on her pajamas or... OH! The Charm!!
- The White Queen is the Childlike Empress and the Dark Queen is Xayide
- Mr. Coreander did say there were other doors into Fantastica.
The deterioration in Fantastica, the character derailment, bad pop culture references and a lot of the other "quirks" in the 3rd movie are a result of TV rotting Bastian's imagination
It makes sense. The world becomes less vivid and cohesive, everyone becomes more shallow and changes in nonsensical ways, and Bastian can no longer think with as much imagination as before. The Childlike Empress arbitrarily restricts his wish, because that's what they do in The Fairly OddParents
Bastian's mother was not named "Moon Child"
She had the Japanese name "Tsukiko" or something similar, and told Bastian what it meant.
- This would only apply to the movie anyway, since in the book there is no reference to using his mother's name. Bastian's special ability is his imagination, his skill to create new names and stories out of nothing, so it wouldn't have been so impressive to use a name that he already knew.
Or maybe, his father had an Imaginary Wife
Luck Dragons genitalia are behind their right ears
Based on this
is all I need to prove as much.
Atreyu actually failed the test of self-worth in the movie.
The point of the first gate in the movie is that you must feel your own self-worth and pass the Sphinxes without getting zapped. If this is so, then Atreyu technically failed. Sure he dodges their attack and runs through safely, but this means he only "passes" in the sense that he has quick feet and good reflexes. He still failed the test of self-worth because the Sphinxes didn't keep their eyes closed and attacked him.
- Where is the guess in this? That's literally what happened.
- On the other hand, while he failed the test of being confident in his self-worth, he still passed a test of bravery by running through rather than simply freezing and letting them blast him, or fleeing back the way he came in cowardice. It's also a good and realistic way of showing heroes can be flawed and make mistakes, yet still be heroes and manage to win in the end.
The Empress changes to suit whomever's reading the book.
No one knows what she looks like, few have met her, and her appearance is said to change. The fact she is Childlike
suggests that appearing as a young girl is a conceit she adopts. Whether this is her choosing A Form You Are Comfortable With
or if she too is being shaped by Bastian's expectations isn't clear, but it is surely no accident that she, Bastian, and Atreyu are all children. Coreander would likely have met an old woman version of the Empress (which only leaves one left to complete The Hecate Sisters
Hero Hynreck is the one who set the Ivory Tower on fire
As a hero, it would be his duty to help Atreyu save Bastian from himself, and what better way to prevent Bastian from crowning himself Emperor than by burning down the place where the ceremony would have taken place?
Bastian caused the Nothing by stealing the book from Mr. Coriander
Because Bastian stole the book while Mr. Coriander was in the middle of reading it, Fantastica had to go through a "reset" sequence before the normal story could take place. This is because a new reader would require a new story to draw them into Fantastica. But because cause and effect tend to run back on each other (not unlike the double-Ouroboros emblem), the reset sequence becomes a critical part of Bastian's story.
- The Nothing, then, is analogous to pages in the book being made blank for the new reader. No matter how much you try to stare at a blank page, you will never be able to make sense of the story written on it (because there is nothing there to read).
- This may be a typical result, as it can be expected that most people do not finish reading the book.
Mr. Coriander is re-reading his own adventures
Quite simply, once you have gone through The Neverending Story you can never go back, but only re-read about your past adventure there. In the same way that a book is always new and unexpected the first time you read it, but doesn't change for the second reading.
- However, re-reading it after somebody else has gone through it may then populate the book with a new story. One might even say that the story in this book never ends.
The Manipulators are The Grey Men from Momo
- Gmork says that the Manipulators tell lies to humans to gain power over them - By stealing a human's time, the Grey Men gain absolute power over them, as Master Hora explains. They gain that power by distorting the truth and make people believe their lies
- When falling victim to the manipulation, the people in The Neverending Story just as the citizens of the unnamed city in Momo lost their ability to dream and their happiness.
- The Grey Men state children are their greatest enemy - The Childlike Empress knows the human rescuing her will be a child.
- When Fantasticans fall victim to The Nothing, they turn from dreams into lies - Gigi looses his ability to dream and instead begins to lie, when the Grey Men make him a TV star and he is kept under constant stress and pressure to succeed as a consequence
The second half of the book is a metaphor for the Mary Sue concept
Imagination gives life to the world of fiction, but the more wishes are fulfilled the more empty a character ultimately becomes. Bastian strives to become an idealised version of himself, but instead comes close to becoming an inhuman abomination.
- Xayide is ultimately responsible for every Sue/Stu in existence.
- What metaphor? They all but tell you this point blank.
All of fiction lives in Fantastica
During the Ivory Tower scene near the beginning of the first movie, you can JUST make out Mickey Mouse
and even a few Star Wars
characters gathered in the small crowd atop the tower. At first glance, these seem to be little more than Easter Eggs
the filmmakers snuck in for funsies. That is, up until you remember that Fantastica is the realm of Human Fantasy. As in, the realm of imagination and fiction. So while Mickey and Chewbacca weren't book characters, they were nonetheless in their own stories, and all stories are true in Fantastica.
Basically, Fantastica is home to every fictional character.....ever.
The Manipulators from the book are related to Nyarlathotep
Former visitors to Fantastica
The Childlike Empress' seven powers are the personifications of the seven chakras.
The Manipulators from the book, the ones who unleashed the Nothing upon Fantastica, are The Psicoanalists from our own world
They are the ones who can decide if you're sane or insane, which kind of thoughts are right or wrong. And they even catalogue the use of fantasy as a "Toxic Defense Mechanism".They are described as proselitizers and manipulators, who have an agenda to direct the people.