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“The Polar Express”: a journey into a mesmerizing winter wonderland

A Christmas Classic
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Photo Credit: Production Companies: Castle Rock Entertainment, Shangri-La Entertainment, Playtone, ImageMovers, Golden Mean Productions

With Christmas approaching, one movie that embodies the magic of the holiday season is “The Polar Express”. The film is directed by Robert Zemeckis and based on the children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg. This heartwarming classic has captured the hearts of audiences since its release in 2004. The story revolves around a young boy who embarks on a journey aboard the “Polar Express”, a train bound for the North Pole.

The Idea

Van Allsburg derived the narrative from the concept of a child in a misty forest at night,  finding a train. He stated, “The Polar Express” began with the idea of a train standing in the woods. I asked myself, What if a boy gets on that train? Where does he go?”

Plot

The movie begins on Christmas Eve and follows a skeptical young boy who doubts the existence of Santa Claus. In the dead of night, “the Polar Express” appears outside his house, ready to transport him and other children on an adventure to the North Pole. With curiosity and excitement, the boy and his fellow passengers embark on the mysterious yet enchanting train journey to the land of Santa Claus.

Throughout the film, we meet a variety of interesting characters, including the train conductor, a mysterious hobo, and a girl who unwaverly believes in Santa. Each character adds depth to the story and helps the young boy rediscover the magic and beauty of Christmas.

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Theme

The recurring theme of the bell in “The Polar Express” symbolizes belief in the magic of Christmas and the wonder of childhood. It begins when the protagonist, the young boy, hears the bell ring from Santa’s sleigh. This theme emphasizes the importance of believing in unseen wonders and deriving joy from intangible aspects of life. The bell ultimately serves as a symbol of faith, reminding individuals to hold onto their belief in magic. The book’s concluding lines beautifully capture this theme:

“At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”

Review

Music & Visuals

“The Polar Express” impresses with its stunning animation and breathtaking visuals. From the meticulously designed train to the picturesque landscapes, every detail contributes to an enchanting experience. The film’s beautiful illustrations bring the story to life, from the iconic image of the steam train gliding through a snow-covered landscape to the intricately animated North Pole.

The enchanting musical score by Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard further enhances the magical atmosphere of the film. Songs like “Believe” and “When Christmas Comes to Town” perfectly capture the spirit of Christmas.

However, there are a couple of aspects that could be improved. The character design, although generally excellent, can be slightly eerie due to the lack of facial expressions at times. Additionally, the film’s pacing could have allowed for more character development.

The Film

“The Polar Express” is widely loved as a heartwarming holiday classic. However, some viewers have pointed out a darker and eerie side to the film. There are numerous theories and interpretations regarding hidden meanings in the movie. For example, scenes involving the hobo character testing the young boy’s belief in Santa can be seen as darker elements. Some viewers have also found the concept of a strange man in a train arriving in the middle of the night and demanding children to board unsettling. Despite these interpretations, Chris Van Allsburg masterfully captures the magic and innocence of childhood through his mesmerizing artwork and engaging storytelling.

Overall, “The Polar Express” is a film that can be enjoyed by viewers of all ages. However, it is especially recommended for young children and families seeking a heartwarming holiday movie. The themes of belief and the magic of Christmas resonate deeply with young audiences. Reminding us all of the importance of imagination, faith, and wonder.

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About the Contributor
Joe Okoroagu, Reporter
Joe Okoroagu is a Junior at Colonia High School. He is an aspiring author and writer with a passion for the written word and a devotion to creativity. He is an idiosyncratic, yet vibrant soul who finds joy in delving into books. When Joe isn't occupied with school, you will find him spending his free time outdoors, working on creative writing pieces, penning characters, and gathering ideas. Though he occasionally overthinks or overanalyzes, he believes that there's always more to it. With this being his first year with The Declaration he aspires to become a better writer and journalist and is always looking for ways to achieve his goals. With his dedication and passion for writing, Okoroagu is confident that he can make a positive impact at CHS.

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