German director Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot) may have thought he was making a Spielberg-style fantasy-adventure, though his 1984 film neatly reverses the Spielberg archetypes: the motivating force is the death of the mother rather than the search for the father, and it's the young hero himself who must fill the lack (by making the mother live again in his imagination) rather than an extraterrestrial deus ex machina. Petersen briefly invokes the Spielbergian suburban setting, then plunges into a Wagnerian nightmare world rife with dark Teutonic images of sex and death. Despite the sophistication of the source material, the film isn't particularly successful: Petersen insists on forcing the superficial moral lessons, and the half hour removed from the film by its American distributors leaves it with a harsh, choppy rhythm. But some force and elegance remain in isolated incidents. With Barret Oliver.
Director: Wolfgang Peterson
Producer: Mark Damon, Bernd Eichinger, Dieter Geissler, John Hyde, Klaus Kaehler and Günter Rohrbach
Cast: Barret Oliver, Noah Hathaway, Tami Stronach, Moses Gunn, Patricia Hayes, Sydney Bromley and Gerald McRaney