The Polar Express Journeys to Real Meaning of Christmas

For nearly 20 years, families around the world have made Chris Van Allsburg’s enchanting story “The Polar Express” part of their own holiday traditions. Now, Oscar Award-winning filmmaker Robert Zemeckis brings this captivating children’s holiday classic to life in a film that uncovers the true values of Christmas – faith, hope and love.
In 2001, this beloved children’s classic about a doubting boy who takes an extraordinary train ride to The North Pole on Christmas Eve caught the attention of acclaimed actor (and father of four) Tom Hanks.  He brought the book to his friend and colleague, filmmaker Robert Zemeckis.  The Oscar-winning pair previously explored issues of the human spirit together in Forrest Gump and Cast Away.   Both were excited by the important spiritual journey taken by the young hero in The Polar Express.
“It’s a story everyone can relate to,” says Zemeckis, who directs Hanks in multiple roles in the upcoming feature film adaptation of The Polar Express.  “So many of us, as children or adults, have questioned our belief in something or gone through the process of having our faith tested and restored.”
Equally excited to take part in this film, Hanks salutes Zemeckis for his ability to bring this holiday classic to life. “Bob will make a movie to test the art form, or to wrestle with some aspect of emotion or human nature,” says Hanks.  “He doesn’t take his job lightly.  He’s interested in making films that somehow break a mold or challenge not only himself as a filmmaker but the entire motion picture oeuvre in some way.”
Motive Entertainment’s Paul Lauer, who directed the marketing campaign for Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” was immediately drawn to Zemeckis’ production of the holiday classic and was honored to once again have the opportunity to bring an inspiring film to the faith and family community.
“Once in a while a film comes along that offers us a great example of biblical values. The Polar Express is one of those films,” says Lauer. “It’s filled with positive themes of kindness, generosity, self-sacrifice, and other core values common to people of faith. The Christian community will find many scenes in this film that can be used as parables to unpack biblical teachings and highlight the true meaning of Christmas.”
With an ongoing theme that encourages the audience to believe in the unseen, The Polar Express uses a childlike faith approach to convey its deep messages of hope and trust.
“The Polar Express invites everyone to a faith discussion,” best-selling author and minister, Max Lucado said. “This delightful story engages, not just the heart, but the mind, and stirs dialogue around a fundamental question: ‘Can I afford to believe in what I have never seen?’”
“Much of the media today is so negative but sometimes an opportunity comes along to engage kids and families in their world with Christ-honoring values,” says Jim Burns, president and founder of HomeWord. “The Polar Express presents a ‘believe again’ connection opportunity for churches to reach children and their parents with a faith message. This is definitely a movie you can invite friends to come and see, and then dialog on our faith in a most natural way.”
Max Lucado and Jim Burns have created teaching messages alongside clips of The Polar Express, provided by Warner Bros. for Motive Entertainment’s “Polar Express Sneak Peek” DVD, which is being distributed to 50,000 churches nationwide this month (available at
Renowned for his innovation in landmark movies like Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Forrest Gump, Zemeckis utilized a groundbreaking filmmaking process called performance capture, seen for the first time in The Polar Express,  “to offer the beauty and richness of Chris’s illustrations from the book.”  A highly advanced motion-capture technique, it allows the actors’ live-action performances to drive the emotions and movements of 3-dimensional digital characters as never before. 
The Polar Express opens nationwide on November 10, 2004.


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