Get your cocoas and stir it with a peppermint stick! Afterwards snack on some pancakes and gingerbread cookies. Remind yourself that we are t-minus one week away from Christmas! And what better way to celebrate one week away than with our day 5 movie review? Maybe some more cocoa.
I’m excited for this one. My nostalgia meter overloads when this movie starts. A perfect childhood movie full of magnificent visuals and a clear message to keep the faith, keep the hope, and always keep believing, no matter what life throws your way.
I just have one question for you…
Do you believe in ghosts?
Any Dickens fans fooled? I might’ve had you believe today was time for A Christmas Carol. But Christmas ghosts greet more than one non-believer on the night before Santa’s trip down from the North Pole. Our day 5 movie focuses on a young boy, not an old man.
In fact, this movie makes subtle references to our grouchy friend Ebenezer Scrooge. But the many references and nuances are only part of what makes this movie a classic. The animations may become dated in time, but the story itself is timeless.
Based on the 1984 picture book of the same name, The Polar Express film was produced in 2004 with the book’s writer and illustrator, Chris Van Allsburg, serving as the executive producer. Gladly so, because without him it makes one wonder if filmmakers would’ve been able to capture the beautiful imagery as perfectly as the movie does. The 2004 film almost identically transposes the picture book onto the screen.
The Polar Express is all we want when Christmas comes to town. And oh! We got it! Hot-hot, say we got it!
The Polar Express begins with our hero’s sleepless night on Christmas Eve, waiting for Santa. Only he waits for Santa for reasons other than pure excitement. Young Hero Boy (voiced by Spy Kids star Daryl Sabara), finds reasons to be skeptical of Old St. Nick. He wants to believe, but only through proof. Hero Boy fights the same struggle we all face: growing up.
Just when the magic fades away, a train engine awakens Hero Boy and to say the least, surprises him. Who would react normally to that? Other than Chicago kids seeing the El Train go by their window. This locomotive stops in front of Hero Boy’s house and the conductor (voiced by Tom Hanks) beckons him on board. Announcing the train’s name as the Polar Express, Hero Boy hesitates but ultimately climbs aboard on a trip to the North Pole and a venture to retrieve again any glimmer of belief.
The North Pole
There’s not one, but many aspects to this film that make the case for this movie garnering a spot in the Christmas Movie Hall of Fame, if there were such a thing.
The Polar Express depicts one of the best renditions of the North Pole. Santa’s hometown appears so small from a distance, hard to spot by the naked human eye, and yet so vast up close. Winding tunnels, a pneumatic system, and seemingly miles and miles of tiny buildings for tiny elves. The North Pole is depicted as a city this time, instead of a small village or castle. Why shouldn’t the North Pole be so grand?
The Polar Express fans have grown up and most likely lost the luster of Santa Claus himself, but their love for the movie has created one of the most mind-bending fan theories in film history. All because Tom Hanks voices four titular characters: the father, the conductor, the ghost, and Santa Claus.
We all remember the ghost. As a kid I saw him as a strange obstacle to the plot. Now that I’m older I look at the Hobo differently. In fact, his first scene atop the train might be my new favorite scene in the movie as he denounces Santa, mocks him and brings to light the same pessimism about the holidays that comes with growing up.
The Hobo adds a depth to the movie that doesn’t normally appear in Christmas kids’ movies. Dickens fans will like this theory. The Hobo represents the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Conductor represents the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Santa represents the Ghost of Christmas Future. How’s that for a twist? With so many references to A Christmas Carol, this theory is more than plausible.
However, this other main theory makes viewers salivate. Much like the path in the woods, forking in two different directions, Hero boy splits into two versions of himself. His decision to board the train leads him on the path to becoming the conductor, the main believer who returns holiday spirit to disheartened children. The second path is decided by Hero Boy should he not board the train. He becomes a Scrooge, tattered and dirty, riding the train without a ticket all. ‘Seeing is believing’ versus ‘believing is seeing.’
There’s so much to say about The Polar Express. I could go on, but I’ll let you enjoy it for yourselves. Also, take a notice of the engineers. One is tall, skinny, and hairy. The other is short, round, and bald. Fans, have at it! We need a new fan theory!
Next time you watch this flick, look closely. You’ll see things that are only meant to be seen by those looking for them. Much like the spirit of Christmas. And the bell, if you remember.
Tune in tomorrow for day 6 of our countdown to Christmas. Today, our day 5 movie review puts us a week away! Seven more movies and we’ll be there!
What is your favorite The Polar Express theory? Let us know below in the comments!
Featured Image Source: IMDB Polar Express