The Polar Express
by Chris Van Allsburg. It is an animated film, but the work is so extraordinarily real, you’ll forget you’re watching animation.
On Christmas Eve, a young boy who is beginning to doubt the existence of Santa Claus, discovers the Polar Express boarding outside his front door. It is heading straight to the North Pole. He hops aboard where he meets other children clad in their pajamas, all hoping to meet Santa Claus.
The conductor is unmistakably Tom Hanks, with a huge pocket watch to help him stick to the schedule. All sorts of adventures arise en route to the North Pole, many of them taking on the dimensions of a roller coaster ride. I’d love to see this film at an IMAX theater for just that reason. Perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to find it playing at an IMAX in your town. There is also plenty of classic Christmas music, sweet songs sung by the children, and wonderful scenes of magic reindeer flying through the sky, Santa and the huge red sack of Christmas presents in tow. Our young hero is given a special gift by Santa, and for a while, still believes.
Robert Zemeckis of Back to the Future fame (another of my favorites), directed the film, and it is a delight from beginning to end. It is rated G, and young and old alike will enjoy this film. There are lots of beautiful messages about the spirit of Christmas in this story. The conductor tells our young hero as he disembarks the train, “One thing about trains; it doesn’t matter where they’re going. What matters is deciding to get on.” I recommend you board Polar Express this holiday season.