TV dinners are a rarity in our house. I am a bit of a stickler for sitting at the table and Talking Properly. I made an exception though, for an hour or so of magical escapism shared with my teenage son to watch ‘The Polar Express‘ on ITV2. Sure, he did it to humour me, but I appreciated the gesture.
Tom Hanks plays several main characters in this motion-capture generated movie, which looks on the screen rather like computer drawings – each eyebrow, bird feather, snowflake is stylized yet detailed. I like the finished product, it adds to the make-believe atmosphere of the movie.
It’s Christmas Eve and a small boy is laying awake, listening for Santa, when he hears the sound of a steam train outside. The conductor seems to be expecting him, and despite his initial reluctance, the boy boards the train. Destination : North Pole, where all the Doubters are confronted by the big man himself, resplendent in red and just about to set off on his magical present-dropping sky-ride. A sleigh-bell falls from the reindeers’ reins and the hero gets to keep it, savouring its sweet jingle as a reminder of the truth of the Spirit of Christmas. When he gets the bell home though, and his parents think it is broken, it becomes obvious that only those who Believe, can hear its tinkling.
Some parents take the view that there is no Santa Claus and to pretend to our children that he is real, is tantamount to a gross dishonesty. How can we impress the importance of telling the truth upon the kids, at the same time as lying to them about Father Christmas (and the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy…)? Rubbish. I cannot recall ever having met a single adult whose life has been blighted by the myth of St Nick. On the other hand, I know many, many people whose recollections of hanging stockings and leaving a carrot for the reindeer, form the bedrock of a lifetime of happy memories. Long live the Spirit of Christmas.
If the Polar Express passes through your town this Christmas, have your ticket ready.