More than 30 years ago, in 1985, a children’s book called “The Polar Express” was born. Written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, the book was eventually turned into a movie in 2004. An American computer animated musical fantasy film, the film stars Daryl Sabara, Nona Gaye, Jimmy Bennett, and Eddie Deezen, with Tom Hanks in six distinct roles.
Set on Christmas Eve, a boy witnesses a train called the Polar Express that is about to depart for the North Pole. The train is on a trip to the North Pole for Christmas. Finding a ticket for the train in his jacket pocket, he boards the train. On the train, he meets a girl. The girl shows him a boy in the other carriage, and they resolve to help him. As the girl goes into the other carriage, her train ticket flies away and the boy tries to catch it when it is trapped in the carriage doors, but fails, as he watches the ticket fly away to the top of the train. The boy decides to locate the lost ticket and pursues the conductor and the girl. Later on, the boy finds the girl and the train has a little trouble as it meets bad weather and it swerves off the tracks. Thankfully, the train manages to get back in its track and continue the journey. At the North Pole, the three children have an adventure together, and on the way home, Santa gives the boy a bell, that will only sound you “believe”. In the train, the kids request the boy to show the bell, and he is devastated to learn that he has lost it. However, the next morning, the boy’s sister wakes him up to open presents, including the bell he lost. The parents hear nothing, and the boy leaves it on the table. The narrator ends the story by saying the bell only rings for those who truly believe.
A movie that “is now seen by many as a classic” (The Independent, 2011), The Polar Express is overall popular over audiences, with some critics giving it a low rating for the “creepy” look of the characters. In my opinion, this movie is one of my personal favourites, and I would always make it a point to watch this movie the day before Christmas. Contrary to some of the critics’ opinions, I feel that The Polar Express’ computer animation of the humans in the film is highly realistic for the technology of the past. This movie gives me a sense of nostalgia when I watch it, as when I was a child, I used to believe in Santa Claus, but now I do not believe in Santa Claus anymore. I find that the themes of friendship and bravery in the movie are highly important to shape our daily lives as well. I also feel that the story is meaningful and sweet and I would highly recommend it for both children and adults. Be sure to watch it, especially during the Christmas season, where it’ll get you in the Christmas mood really quick!
Germaine Ong (2L)