Polar Express

4 out of 10


Flashy CGI trip to the Nuremberg Rally

"Santa is an anagram", was a piece of memorable graffitti that someone had scrawled ironically at my local railway station in England, and it is worth considering. Every year we throw an ever more lavish birthday party for someone who had sought world peace and every year we increasingly ignore him, preferring to engage in the planet's biggest conspiracy where one half of humanity convinces the other to believe instead in a phoney God Of Greed. And, in a world so worried about paedophiles, we all tell our kids to look forward to a fat, drunk old dude climbing into their room, supposedly to fill their underwear with sweeties.

Adolf Hitler's 1935 epic "Triumph of the Will" has much in common with "Polar Express". Not only did it represent a major breakthrough in motion picture technique on the same scale as the amazing CGI of Polar Express and was likewiuse set in the 1930's too, but it was also a piece of almost pure propaganda about an autocratic Eastern European dictator with ideas of world domination. As Santa likewise appears before the turmultuous ocean of adoring slave-labour elves, all uniformly dressed in battle scarlet,, it closely resembles scenes from the Fuhrer's Nazi Party Rally at Nuremberg. (Ironically, the elves arrive on screen to the tune of the Communist anthem, "Red Flag"). Indeed, both have proclaimed that their deep love of children and that they (and not democracy) have the answer to the world's problems. Indeed, it has been calculated by economists that for Santa to run his operation the way he assures us that he does, he would have to have been running up a Budget Deficit bigger than that of the US for many, many years.

No-one can fault the sheer quality of "Polar Express". Based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg, the author of Zanthura and Jumanji, it features some of the most fabulous CGI ever seen on screen and has been enhanced in the screenplay by its director, Robert Zemeckis, a true master of special effects. Here, a little boy is picked up from his home by a truly magnificient train, pulled by a magnificent specimen of classic American steam locomotion. The journey involves such delights as a team of stewards who tap dance in formation Buzby Berkley-style, a struggle to hand back a lost ticket to a little girl, involving walking along the ropf of the racing train where he meets a Sean Bean-lookalike ghost and a race across the collapsing ice shelf of a frozen lake. The ride is truly thrilling, even for an adult.

Cast as the voice of almost every adult is Tom Hanks in one of his all-time best performances, from his onscreen lookalike conductor who fearlessly climbs around, over and onto the train to Santa himself in what surely must be one of the greatest acts of hypocracy of all time. For, it was Mr Hanks himself who spoke out so determinedly against advanced CGI and how it was going to destroy the actring profession at the time of the release of the movie "Final Fantasy, the Spirits Within". So bad a press did it give it, that it was a contributory factor to the failure of this rival motion picture...hardly an act of a benevolent Santa!.

All-in-all, "Polar Express" is enjoyable and spectacular, but represents a singular push of a particular brand of culture, a corruption of the true message of Christmas and says little that will educate children to be better citizens in the real world.

Training our kids to enjoy Dictatorship

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett