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Director Robert Zemeckis brought in Chris Van Allsburg Polar Express alive in 2004 to the sound of a train whistle in a snowy town on Christmas Eve. Allsburg, known for his books Jumanji i Zathura, among many others, he told the story of a little boy on the brink of disbelief in the existence of Santa Claus until a mysterious train awaited him in his city. Zemeckis directed the films Forrest Gump i Discard, in which they both play Tom Hanks. Hanks portrays many characters in the Christmas fairy tale, including Santa Claus, the ghost of the train, the conductor and the main character when he grows up. With the struggle to find the existence of Santa Claus, the result of the film and the ending that still leaves me in awe, Polar Express is still the best Christmas movie for all ages. He also has unrivaled Christmas movies in live-action and animated films.
The story begins with a troubled boy, who remains unnamed in the film, watching newspaper clippings of articles about Santa’s prank until his parents check on him. As he pretends to be asleep, he remembers his parents talking about the “end of the spell,” suggesting the boy’s disbelief in Santa Claus. When the overwhelming whistle of the train rattles through the house, the boy embarks on a lifelong ride along with a young girl, who remains unnamed, and a boy named Billy, both unwavering in their faith in Santa Claus. As no one in the neighborhood was awakened by the train, it is suggested that the train is magical – only to be heard by children who believe in Santa Claus. Towards the end of the film it becomes clearer that this is not true, and the conducting method was more concise than the viewers believe.
As the barrel train crosses the frozen river, maneuvers the caribou crossing, and accelerates the Gluch Glacier, there are moments when inexplicable phenomena occur, such as train tickets leaving only to return moments later; the ghost that lives on top of the train sometimes helps the boy; and waiters who produce table tops from the air who ask the question: What train is it and where is it going? Polar Express focuses its attention on children, roughly older, who are on the verge of disbelief in Santa Claus, thus losing their Christmas spirit.
After the trio gets lost at the North Pole, the girl and Billy come across bells ringing from an unknown source. The boy repeatedly asks, “which bells?” The next scene – which is also the best scene in the film – is when the boy finds one of Santa’s dream bells rolling towards him, and he still can’t hear it even after he picks it up and rings it next to his ear. The bell becomes more significant than anything else in the film, announcing the boy’s belief in Santa Claus. The odds of Santa Claus being real or not are still heating up 16 years later as it hits a home for adults and children. No other Christmas movie could have imagined the unique theme that Christmas revolves around: Belief. Polar Express is believing in something, even if no one else believes it.
Alan Silvestri’s result is amazing. There is no other way to describe a recurring theme that appears in a film. When the boy loses the bell that Santa gave him, we see a small box lying under the Christmas tree. “Wait, there’s another one,” the boy’s sister says. She hands him the box revealing the bell and the result becomes even stronger and more powerful. When we learn that a boy continues to believe in Santa Claus even as he gets older, we realize how effective the boy’s experience was on the train. The reflection of Santa Claus flashes from the side of the bell, and we recognize the significance of the train.
At one time or another, many of us believed that a fat man dressed in a red suit slid down chimneys, put presents under a tree, and left cookies intact. Polar Express he tells his viewers that the power of something, like the Christmas spirit, is as strong as the faith of his followers in it. The film has a way to touch both adult and children’s hearts because it is nostalgic and brings back many of our childhood memories. That’s why Polar Express remains the best Christmas movie continuously after 16 years of magical fun.
Pictures: IMDB, Mental Thread
Featured image: Rail Events Inc.
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