The Polar Express (2004)
Description: This is the story of a young hero boy on Christmas Eve who boards on a powerful magical train that’s headed to the North Pole and Santa Claus’s home. What unfolds is an adventure which follows a doubting boy, who takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole; during this ride, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery which shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe.
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writers: Chris Van Allsburg (book), Robert Zemeckis (screenplay)
Stars: Tom Hanks, Chris Coppola, Michael Jeter
The film is listed in the 2006 Guinness Book of World Records as the “first all-digital capture” film, where all acted parts were done in digital capture.
Hero Boy’s real name is never mentioned. However, according to books containing information about The Polar Express, including art books and fact books, Hero Boy’s name is Chris, after the novel’s author, Chris Van Allsburg.
Before Hero Boy boards the Polar Express, the clock says 11:55. The time doesn’t change until the first gift of Christmas is given, near the end of the film.
In the scene where the engineer and fireman are trying to grab the pin necessary for the trains throttle, in the background you can see a working flux capacitor. This is a reference to Back to The Future and can possibly mean the the Polar Express is a functioning time machine.
The movie takes place in the year 1955
When the Hero Boy first meets the Hobo on the roof of the train, he is playing the carol “Good King Wenceslas.” The story of Saint Wenceslas I, Duke of Bohemia is that of a king braving the harsh winter to bring alms to the poor on the Feast of Stephan, December 26th. His page finds he can’t go on through the harsh conditions and is directed to walk in the footprints that the king has made in the snow. The Hobo directs Hero Boy to follow behind him and ultimately helps him reach the engine before they make it to the tunnel, thus allowing him to find and help his friend. This is also a representation of the Holy Spirit idea of the Hobo, that he guides those who believe in Him to safety, even in perilous times.
The address spoken by the conductor early in the film “11344 Edbrooke” is the real address of Robert Zemeckis’ childhood house. The house is in a south side Chicago neighborhood called Roseland.
The film used 3D motion capture techniques to digitally record the actors’ physical performances before “skinning” them with their animated forms. The children’s roles were acted by adults, using oversized props to get the movement right.