In the film, The NeverEnding Story, a young boy, Bastian, begins to read a book and is progressively more enthralled by it, eventually coming to several surprising realizations about this story, what it has to say, and how it relates to his real life.
The key scene here is a very interesting dialog between the hero, Atreyu, and the villain, Gmork. It is here that Gmork speaks for the first time, before having been just a monstrous menace, and reveals his reasons for hunting Atreyu.
Here is the script of the scene.
Gmork: If you come any closer, I will rip you to shreds.
Atreyu: Who are you?
Gmork: I am Gmork. And you, whoever you are, can have the honor
of being my last victim.
Atreyu: I will not die easily. I am a warrior!
Gmork: Ha! Brave warrior, then fight the Nothing.
Atreyu: But I can’t! I can’t get beyond the boundaries of Fantasia!
[Gmork laughs, Atreyu gets a little angry.]
Atreyu: What’s so funny about that?
Gmork: Fantasia has no boundaries. [laughs]
Atreyu: That’s not true! You’re lying.
Gmork: Foolish boy. Don’t you know anything about Fantasia? It’s the
world of human fantasy. Every part, every creature of it, is a piece of the
dreams and hopes of mankind. Therefore, it has no boundaries.
Atreyu: But why is Fantasia dying then?
Gmork: Because people have begun to lose their hopes and forget their
dreams. So, the Nothing grows stronger.
Atreyu: What is the Nothing?
Gmork: It’s the emptiness that’s left. It’s like a despair destroying this world.
And I have been trying to help it.
Atreyu: But why?
Gmork: Because people who have no hopes are easy to control; and whoever
has the control… has the power!
Atreyu: Who are you, really?
Gmork: I am the servant of the power behind the Nothing. I was sent to kill
the only one who could have stopped the Nothing. I lost him in the Swamps
of Sadness. His name… was Atreyu!
[The ground shakes again, Atreyu is knocked down. He grabs
a knife-shaped shard of stone and stands up ready to fight.]
Atreyu: If were about to die anyway, I’d rather die fighting! Come for me, Gmork!
I am Atreyu!
The key ideas to note here is that Fantasia is made up of the “hopes and dreams of mankind” and that in losing their hopes, people become easier to control.
First, we have an acknowledgment of that material existence is only part of who we are. There exists another just as vital part beyond it. Our hopes and dreams are the world that we wish to create for ourselves and/or our community. This is an ideal that we strive for. All sorts of things may have influenced the individual before, however, at its conception and initial imagining, an ideal is the work of one person’s mind and soul. What someone holds as an ideal says a lot about that person. An ideal, in the general sense, is neither inherently good nor bad. Many ideals are selfish, however, some are convey a sincere altruism, and it is these that are most often, in our material obsessed world, called naive or simply impractical. Ironically, selfless heroes are popular throughout storytelling in most human cultures, yet hardly anyone attempts to seriously look at these ideas, rather most just shrug it off as “just a story” to the point that “idealist” and “someone who’s naive” have converged in some circles of thought. The focus is on practical material results, in education and in subsequent work. Indeed, “people have begun to lose their hopes and forget their dreams.”
Aryans strive for an absence of slavery (i.e. goys in any form) as their main ideal and the core of Aryan Idealism.
Appeal to Nobility (refusal to accept slavery, i.e. goys in any form) as a source of moral authority.
Any ideal is the simultaneous inner expression of individualism and of freedom. Most would be content with keeping such things for their own use, but Aryans have always sought to implement such ideals on a community and folk level. People cooperate in the physical world, and they can also cooperate in the metaphysical world.
Second, we have the link between ideals and freedom. Indeed, one must first have the former in order to achieve the latter. Gmork says, “…people who have no hopes are easy to control…” Those without hope, without ideals, are complacent with their mere existence and content with their probability of sustainability. This makes them material slaves who are routinely given doses of liberty (a form of bribery) to ensure their continued compliance. Gmork says that as Fantasia erodes, the Nothing takes its place. This is an apt metaphor for Secularism, or the reduction of ethics to material calculations. Secularism is, in effect, a conceding to Materialism. Aryans opt away from this defeatist line of thought and live according to Gnostic philosophy.
The belief that material existence is fundamentally evil, thus it is ultimately to be transcended.
Materials are but a tool to achieve something greater. They are a means to an end, and not an end by themselves. Aryans refuse to be controlled by materials and they refuse materials controlling others, Aryans stand against all forms of slavery and dependence. Freedom, in the truest sense of the word, is what Aryans stand for.
The story also has a solid bit of militarist symbolism. However, this is also the kind of thing that gets overlooked or ignored even when it is bluntly obvious and part of the main point such as in The Lord of the Rings. The point here is that Atreyu is a warrior, he proudly says that he is and he sure acts like one. Atreyu’s mission is to save the realm of Idealism and the replacement of humanity’s hopes with Secularism, the guiding force of Materialism. Atreyu’s mission is one of Aryan Transcendence. Gmork’s mission, on the other hand, is to further the strength of the Nothing, of Secularism and Materialism. Gmork even admits to being a “servant” and he is just that. Or more aptly put, Gmork is a golem, a soldier with no soul and no care for such an idea. In the end, his actions will be nothing more than a completed or failed transaction, and he is content with this.
The story’s transcendent quality is developed in a key scene in which Atreyu, looking into a mirror sees Bastian, the boy reading “The NeverEnding Story.” This story within a story motif is used to show how the Idealist reading the story is the Warrior on a mission, or at the very least, a reflection of that Warrior. The two are related and Bastian’s experience in reading the book gets him closer and closer to Fantasia until he actually saves it from destruction. Bastian and Atreyu are never shown as being the same person or “being one” as that would negate the idea of transcendence. Bastian intentionally becomes like Atreyu out of his own will, he goes from reading about ideals to actually living them.
By creating ideals, we take the first step in transcending materialism.
I D E A L
Two more interesting points here, first is that this idea of reading a story and being inspired by it goes back to the root and original meaning of the word “religion” – relegere – or “to go through again” either in thought or by reading. Bastian does this and then goes on to actually reiterate Atreyu’s heroic deeds in the context of his own real life. Second, is the name of the boy reading, Bastian. It sounds identical to “bastion,” which goes with the militarist/idealist theme of the story. As the film opens, Bastian is shown as a victim of bullying, though after reading the story he starts to live up to his name. Without ideals he was a victim, with ideals he is a warrior; an empty bastion can be easily overrun, a garrisoned bastion is a challenge for the opponent and actually fulfills its purpose.
This brief look has not been an exhaustive look at the symbolism of The NeverEnding Story. The first film is reasonably faithful to the book, however it only covers the first half. The second film only makes use of the book’s characters, while advancing its own storyline, and the third film is even less related to the source. The author, Michael Ende, was drafted into the Wehrmacht towards the end World War II, but then deserted to join an anti-establishment group still in Germany. Like so many people who lived through that time, and thus had a genuine connection to National Socialism, Ende was taken in by the Allies’ massive, and still persisting, re-education campaign. Yet, he was still able to imagine and express ideas that contain Aryanism.
It is that noble spark that we searching for.