Stranger Things 3 NeverEnding Story Reference

Stranger Things 3 is available on Netflix now, but you probably know that since over 40 million people reportedly watched the new season over the holiday weekend. Needless to say, there are plenty of new references and homages made to beloved movies of the 1980s, especially now that it’s 1985 in the series. But there’s one reference that is bigger and more satisfying than all the others, and it involves The NeverEnding Story from 1984. However, that particular reference almost didn’t happen at all.

In order to discuss this part of Stranger Things 3, we must dive into spoilers for the final episode, so you’ve been warned!

In the last episode of Stranger Things 3, Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) makes a Hail Mary call to his long distance camp girlfriend Suzie (Gabriella Pizzolo) by way of his makeshift long-range walkie-talkie system. After getting no response from her in the first episode, he finally gets through to her in Salt Lake City, Utah when he needs her the most. In order to gain access to the two-man key system that will shut down the device re-opening the gate into the Upside Down, Dustin needs the mathematical number known as Planck’s constant, or the quantum of electromagnetic action, and the brilliant Suzie can remember it off the top of her head.

However, the only problem is Suzie is a little annoyed that she hasn’t heard from Dustin since he’s been home from camp. And before she agrees to give him the number, she would like him to show a romantic gesture, something that they’ve apparently done with each other before. Dustin is hesitant about going through with it, looking absolutely terrified of the prospect. But forced into a corner, he starts belting out the theme song to The NeverEnding Story, written by Giorgio Moroder and sung by Christopher “Limahl” Hamill and Beth Anderson. Here’s a clip:

It’s an incredible moment that inexplicably goes on way longer than you’d think during a time of crisis. It’s almost too much, but it’s so damn charming and wonderful that it doesn’t even matter. But this moment was almost much less memorable due to one of the possible song choices that was considered.

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, creators and executive producers Matt & Ross Duffer revealed that there were various songs considered for this scene, but there’s one specific song that he mentions which is perplexing and not nearly as sastisfying. Matt Duffer revealed:

“At one point they were going to sing the Ent song from Lord of the Rings. Then we were like, ‘Oh, well, Amazon is making Lord of the Rings, that’s probably not going to go over well with Netflix.’ Then we came up, I think it was Curtis, our writer, who came up with I think a better idea, which was The NeverEnding Story theme song.”

Yes, Amazon is making a new Lord of the Rings series, and Netflix probably isn’t too keen on giving intellectual property they don’t own any more screentime (even if Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies have been on Netflix on-and-off again for years). But the real problem lies in the song choice itself.

The Ent song Matt Duffer refers to is “The Ent and the Entwife” poem written by J.R.R. Tolkien that is recited by the giant tree (or Ent) known as Treebeard. He delivers the poem to the hobbits Merry and Pippin as a song, but as far as we can tell, this poem was never sung in a recorded format available to the characters of Hawkins, Indiana in 1985. There was a recording by The Tolkien Ensemble in 1997, but before that, even J.R.R. Tolkien himself didn’t sing the poem when he recorded it on vinyl in 1975:

So how exactly would that song have sounded if Dustin and Suzie sung it instead? And would anyone outside of hardcore Lord of the Rings fans have known where it came from? Maybe that’s why it wasn’t chosen in the end. After all, the use of The NeverEnding Story theme song is already somewhat of a niche choice, but at least it’s a charming, catchy song that really made that moment uplifting and heroic. I can’t imagine the Ent song from The Two Towers having anywhere near the same impact.

Anyway, we’re just happy to see a resurgence of The NeverEnding Story theme song in such a big way. You can bet plenty of younger kids who have never seen that movie are renting it as soon as possible.

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