Chris Van Allsburg wrote “The Polar Express” in 1985. This children’s book has become a Christmas classic. Children and adults alike all over the world have become enchanted with the story of a little boy who awakes in the middle of the night to find train outside his house, beckoning him to the North Pole. The book itself has beautiful illustrations that incorporate the darker shades that are associated with winter – rich reds, deep greys, thick greens. Each page draws the reader further and further into the story, building anticipation, just as if he was going on the same journey to the mystical North Pole as well. Like most children’s books, the physical size of the book is large and lends to an encompassing experience when flipping each wide page.
The 2004 adaptation for screen brought this wonderful story to life in a fresh visual way. Executive producer Tom Hanks led the movie both starring and narrating the story. Chris Van Allsburg was included as another executive producer, which ensured the authenticity and unique nature of the book being adapted into film. “The Polar Express” has definitely become a must see, in addition to a must read, every Christmas season. Accompanying the movie is a stellar soundtrack, which includes the astounding voice of Josh Groban and the compositional genius of Alan Silvestri.
The overall message of “The Polar Express” rings true for many of us. It follows the experience of a young child. He believes in magic and in the existence of the North Pole as more than just a symbolic location. As he grows older, he continues to believe, even though his friends and family are unable to share in his enthusiasm for the magic of Christmas. He keeps a small bell, which he received from Santa Claus during his trip to the North Pole, and he is able to hear the bell ring throughout his entire lifetime. All of his friends and family slowly lose the ability to hear the bell. Even as he grows old, the once-young boy is able to hear the bell ring loud and clear.
This is an important message to all. Even when faced with the harsh realities of the world, where science disproves magic, it is comforting to fondly remember the time as a child, when the magic of Christmas was experienced. Returning to the feeling can be comforting and inspiring. The most creative and imaginative people in the world are somehow able to maintain a close connection to childhood dreams – a sort of free spiritedness – that is joyful and fun. Christmas is the perfect time to revisit childhood dreams and put one’s current life in perspective. Many dreamed the same dreams as children, and it is important to keep those dreams relevant and to continue to pursue what those dreams have transformed into today.