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The Polar Express is Pure Magic

The other day I saw this tweet:

Now, I know that The Polar Express isn’t as popular as holiday favourites Elf or Christmas with the Kranks, but I had no idea that 178,121 people would toss a like to this outrageous statement. Although it may not be the source of well-loved quotes like “I’m sorry I ruined your lives and crammed 11 cookies into the VCR,” I thought we were all aware of the pure magic that is The Polar Express.

So, just as I did at every single one of my childhood birthday parties before forcing my friends to watch The Polar Express in November, I will explain why it is a masterpiece. I hope James from Twitter reads this.


The “Eerie Magic”

Have you ever been intrigued by something like an abandoned children’s theme park? Or the strange thought of Santa creeping down your chimney at 4:00 AM while you sleep? If you have, but can’t quite put your finger on why, the reason may be the combination of childhood magic and unsettledness. This “eerie magic” is threaded throughout The Polar Express. Some exemplary scenes include ‘Hero boy’ meeting ‘the Hobo’ on top of the moving train and the children wandering alone through the North Pole while an off-key, distant version of ‘Winter Wonderland’ plays. While Elf might make me laugh, The Polar Express summons a more complex emotion: disturbing enchantment.


The Almost-Too-Lifelike Animation

In a style that many have described as “creepy,” the movement and facial expressions of the characters fall somewhere between art and reality. The producers used a technique called performance capture in which live actors performed the movements that were then overlaid with animation. I think this animation style is unique and captivating, and adds to the “eerie magic.”



Tom Hanks

Hanks is not only the executive director of The Polar Express but also plays six different characters: Hero boy, the father, the Hobo, the train conductor, Scrooge and Santa Claus himself. The performance capture and voice acting are even more impressive when you know that a large chunk of the movie is a one-man show.



The Soundtrack

All Christmas music is magical, but the music from The Polar Express is something special. My favourites include ‘Seeing is Believing’ and ‘Suite from the Polar Express’ composed by Alan Silvestri, and ‘When Christmas Comes to Town’ performed by Meagan Moore and Matthew Hall.


The Hot Chocolate Scene

One of the greatest scenes, perhaps obviously so, is the hot chocolate dance number. If you can watch this scene and still think The Polar Express is “mediocre,” then you must think floating table cloths and back flips are “mediocre.”

From start to finish, The Polar Express is pure Christmas magic and delight. For the 178,121 of you who believe it is “overhyped,” I strongly recommend you reconsider the quality of its story, art and music instead of watching Love Actually for the 22nd time. I could go on about this all day, but I better end it here because you’ve got a movie to re-watch, James from Twitter. And remember—“seeing is believing.”

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Cassia Pelton

Western '21

Cassia Pelton is a Psychology student at Western University, figure skater, and dog lover.
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