Otherwise Known As: Fuchur
Realm: Phantásien (Fantastica/Fantasia)
Featured In: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
Voiced By: Alan Oppenheimer, Donald Arthur, & William Hootkins
There are a great many books in this world and while a great many of them are without pictures; they are plenty that are without heart, without the very soul of imagination itself. The Neverending Story is one such story and a film that… does its best but frankly falls rather short. I admit, I like the movie and parts of the second but Michael Ende, the author of the book, hated the first one to such a degree that he wanted it either to be cancelled or to have the name changed as he felt it deviated too far from his book. When the studio, Warner Bros. Pictures by the way, refused to do so, he then tried to sue them and, unfortunately, lost.
I’ve heard there’s a third film out there as well but from what I hear, I’m better off pretending it doesn’t exist.
While I can understand that Michael Ende felt the movie deviated too far, I can’t help but wonder if a huge portion of that was a problem of translation when it came to The Neverending Story. For you see, ladies and gentlemen, the book was written and published first in Germany and only came to America four years after its first publication, a year ahead of the film’s release. A lot of the places and names in the book, while possible to translate to English, would not be pronounced the same way as it is in its native Germany.
For example to you purely English speakers, the letter “W” is often pronounced similarly to “V” hence why so many fanfiction writers replace the former with the latter if they’re attempting to emphasize an accent.
The world of Phantásien was one such place that ultimately was changed twice over. Firstly as “Fantasia,” which does sound a lot like the original German name but also has a far more, Disney-like ring to it to most Americans. Something I’m not sure Warner Bros. Pictures did intentionally or not considering the first film’s success and the failure of its sequel and the wretchedness of the supposed third film. In the translated book, it’s called Fantastica, which isn’t altogether that bad but not really carrying the same power as its original Germanic name.
Phantásien itself is a land without boundaries inhabited by a wide array of creatures and landscapes the likes of which I could spend the entirety of my life trying to name and likely die long before I could come close to finishing. For today though, I’ll talk of one creature, one character, in particular and that’s Falkor the Luckdragon.
Originally named as “Fuchur” in the original book, and changed because of how it sounds too much like “Future” to those who can’t read German pronunciations. Falkor’s name, and species, derives from a Japanese word: “Fukuryuu” that translates properly to lucky dragon. In the book, Falkor is only loosely described as possessing pink scales and fur that appear white in dull light along with rudimentary paws and eyes like rubies.
Overall, luckdragons are generally styled after Oriental Dragons, i.e. that they’re serpentine and lack wings but can fly with utmost ease. In point of fact, luckdragons stay in the open air so much that they can literally survive on it by “breathing” in nutrients through their scales, hence why going into water is a practical death sentence for them.
What makes luckdragons rather unique even amongst their Oriental brethren is that while they can breathe fire, azure tinted might I add, they are not known for it nor any physical strengths or magical feats. In fact, the one and only thing that luckdragons are known for is…
Their luck that breaks the very laws of casualty itself and drags probability out the door by its freaking ear. It may not always be obvious and it may not always come swiftly when needed, but a luckdragon’s luck will always come through for them when they need it the most.
On one particular cover of the book, Falkor possesses lion like features while in the films and animated series he has canine head and love of ear scratching. Frankly… I’m torn on it in all honesty. Oh, don’t get me wrong he’s quite a frightening sight in the first film regardless of how old one is when watching it, but the cartoon series at least tries to alleviate it somewhat. Besides, its not often one sees a dragon stylized after a dog rather than a bird or feline.
Falkor himself is a jovial character, always finding the bright side of things even when they seem their absolute bleakest because of his firm belief in his own inherent luck. His voice, in the films and book alike, is akin to the sound of large bells and is a true dragon’s voice though not one that can be called noteworthy compared to others.
All in all, if you have the option of reading the book or watching the movie, then I suggest that you turn off that television and find a cozy place to sit, because it will be a long journey ahead of you.