Friday, December 7, 2007

The Polar Express

Tonight, ABC Family's 25 days of Christmas movie is the Polar Express. I have not actually read the book all the way through, but I understand the movie's story was added to and developed into a larger plot, not like the story book legend type that is in the actual book written, by the way, by Chris Van Allsburg, the writer of Jumanji and Zathura. It is not a bit like those two, and I think it is considered more popular and perhaps a better story than the others. The movie is pretty good for an animated Christmas movie. There are some really good action parts in it, and seeing it in the theater was like actually being there, some of the time.
Tom Hanks plays most of the characters, including the little boy, who's name is not given in the movie, the conductor, the hobo, (my favorite character) Mr. C (Santa Clause) and the little boy's dad. He may have played a few others. The hobo is by far the most mysterious, and oddly enough, he does give the impression that he is a ghost, and that very word is intimidating, whether he is friendly or not. This is an odd trait for a Christmas movie...or at least I thought so, until all of a sudden I wondered...just now, as I am writing this. I have begun to wonder this Christmas how much fantasy and legend is actually behind traditional American Christmas. Santa Clause is referred to as a jolly old elf in 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. In one of our popular Christmas tunes, the last part of a verse goes like this:

They'll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long long ago.....

Ghost stories. The movie, although cheerful, funny, absolutely Christmasy, but while traveling to the North Pole, I got the idea that they were crossing this amazingly bleak and dangerous winter frontier that was full of secrets, and ghosts, and the only comfort was that there was this one glimmer of hope and sanity and civilization in that train. I think I read that the hobo was actually a ghost (at one point in the movie he asks the boy who learns to believe: "Do you believe in ghosts?" Believing Boy fervently shakes his head, and the hobo replies, "Interesting."

This was the middle of the movie, where it seemed the most mysterious. It grows more cheerful when they arrive at the North Pole, and we get to see wise-cracking elves, which were especially charming, as they were half the size of children. In most movies and popular stories, they are made out to be the size of children. I like the idea of them being super duper small. Plus, I really like the part with elves handling the reindeer, and the long harness/rein thing that has silver bells all over it. Like, within 1/10 of an inch of each other. That many bells! All ringing. Mr. C was pretty cool too. He seemed to be almost twice the size of most humans, and that was interesting too, just like the elves being smaller than most movies and stories.
In short, this is a really great Christmas movie, despite the dead-eye syndrome.

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