I’m about to say something controversial so brace yourselves: I love the movie The Polar Express. Now, give me a minute to defend myself. I feel like it is a somewhat widely held opinion among our generation that the film The Polar Express is creepy. Something about the animation puts people off and makes them uneasy. I’ve heard others say they just find it boring or it doesn’t make sense. However, I for one find this to be one of the most sentimental and magical Christmas movies. I’m tired of the hate this film receives, I’m here to defend it.
- The Music
I can’t talk about The Polar Express and not highlight the spectacular score. Alan Silvestri composed the music for this movie, most known for making the music behind the Back to the Future franchise, several Marvel movies, Forrest Gump, and even The Parent Trap. The musical motif of the opening sequence of the film as the title appears alone invites a sense of wonder and magic that continues throughout the film. The orchestra swells as the train departs the main character’s house and as the train navigates the Arctic are so moving, it captures an indescribable feeling.
Maybe it’s just the personal memories of my childhood, but this film invokes an immense amount of nostalgia for me. The silent falling of snow in the early hours of Christmas Day, the stillness of the neighborhood, the desire to believe in something and feel like a child again, the sense of unadulterated excitement. Watching the characters in the film experience this journey makes me feel in touch with a younger self. It reminds me of watching this movie in elementary school in pajamas when the anticipation of Christmas was in the air. Is it a bit strange and nonsensical? Perhaps. Why is there a hot chocolate dance sequence? I can’t answer that. What is the significance of the man on top of the train? To this day, I don’t know. However, this film continues to evoke that feeling of childhood for me.
I’ve never seen this movie in IMAX 3D, although I imagine it would be a transcending experience. The shots of the train rushing through the Arctic wilderness, the sequence of the train ticket on the loose, it’s breathtaking imagery. It’s vivid and surreal; it really brings you into the world of the story. The way the North Pole is depicted feels inviting and timeless.
I can see how some may not appreciate this movie. I’ll admit, the marionette scene still unnerves me. Despite its flaws, however, I can’t help but feel a sense of elation and joy every time I watch it. I continue to re-watch this movie every year, and I’d recommend everyone give it at least one more try. You may be surprised.