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The Polar Express (2004)

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On Christmas Eve, a young boy embarks on a magical adventure to the North Pole on the Polar Express, while learning about friendship, bravery, and the spirit of Christmas.



(book), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
3,462 ( 285)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sister Sarah / Mother
Hero Girl (voice)
Brendan King ...
Pastry Chef
Andy Pellick ...
Pastry Chef
Josh Eli ...
Mark Mendonca ...
Rolandas Hendricks ...
Mark Goodman ...
Jon Scott ...
Sean Scott ...


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. Written by Anthony Pereyra {hypersonic91@yahoo.com}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


All Aboard In IMAX 3D this holiday See more »


G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

10 November 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Polar Express: An IMAX 3D Experience  »


Box Office


$165,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$23,323,463, 14 November 2004, Wide Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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Did You Know?


Steven Tyler: the Elf Lieutenant / Elf Singer. His daughter, Liv Tyler, appears in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy as the elf Arwen. See more »


When the Hero Boy is skiing with the Hobo atop the train, the camera angle pans several times. At one point, the view is from the front of the train, showing the engine and the two fellows are on the third car, with two cars between them and the engine. Subsequent pans show them jumping at least three more times, and traveling on more than just two cars. See more »


[first lines]
Hero Boy: On Christmas Eve many years ago I laid quietly in my bed. I did not rustle the sheets, I breathed slowly and silently. I was listening for a sound I was afraid I'd never hear: the sound of Santa's sleigh bells.
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Crazy Credits

At the very end, it reads "In Dedication to Michael Jeter" with a picture. See more »


Written and Produced by Glen Ballard and Alan Silvestri
Performed by Josh Groban
Josh Groban appears courtesy of 143 Records/Reprise Records
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

One Christmas Eve a group of kids aboard a mystery train that's headed to the North Pole
14 January 2012 | by See all my reviews

Charming and worthwhile adaptation about a timeless and marvelous Christmas story dealing with a boy boards a magical train which's driven to the North Pole and Santa Claus's home . Polar Express is an enjoyable Hollywood production , set on Christmas Eve , a wonderful and straight forward approach to the original's source material , based on a storybook written by Chris Van Allsburg who also created ¨Zahura¨ and ¨Jumanji¨ , being splendidly adopted . It is given the full ¨Motion Capture¨ deluxe treatment in this superior Holiday film . The production values & acting are both excellent, with just enough attractive to appeal to the tenderhearted, and with moving doses of allucinogenic adventure , thrilling events , case of the potentially frightening elements and adding sentiment ; all of them are blended into the mix, until, like a nice Christmas punch, the result appeals to all . The Christmas story tells of a boy who has reached an age when he begins to have materialistic doubts believing in Santa . The young boy is lying awake waiting for the sound of sleigh bells ringing from Santa's sleigh . The little boy receives a surprise, a steam engine's roar and whistle can be heard outside his window , he jumps from his bed and sees a train in the middle of his street , as he is visited by a strange Polar Express . A rare conductor (Tom Hanks) who displays no charity to mankind generally invites him on board to take an extraordinary trip to the outside his window . The doubting boy grabs his robe and rushes out the front North Pole with many other pajama-clad children . The little hero boy meets a group of children (voices from Nora Gaye , Eddie Deezen, Peter Scolari) . There, he gets an extraordinary gift only those who still believe in Santa can experience a nd will learn the error of his ways . To his delight, the roller-coaster ride complete his beliefs in one night giving him the opportunity to mend his thoughts to reaffirm Mr Claus .

Splendid Tom Hanks who plays the train conductor of a magical express heading for the North Pole, in addition to five other parts. A marvelous recounting of a Christmas tale and Tom Hanks demonstrates once again his versatility on screen in this retelling of a surrealist, fantastic adventure that results to be a kaleidoscopic marvel . It packs spectacular set pieces , breathtaking sound effects , highly imaginative camera angles and impressive special effects ; furthermore a sensible musical score by Alan Silvestri , including a touching leitmotif . Atmospherically as a complete package it demonstrates the perfection of modern computer animation techniques . The movie is as comfortable and heartwarming as an old Christmas card .The whole concept of looking at a rapid train towards North Pole is creative in and of itself. After watching the movie, you may look at your life from the same enjoyable perspectives . Special effects add a nice little touch , but it is Tom Hanks's interaction with the various characters that really steal the show . Hanks manages to capture pure magic with his stunningly awesome portrayal of main characters , the Hero boy and the conductor , and it is definitely worth a look . It's fun and different approach to the Christmas tale with top notch effects by means of ¨Motion Capture¨ , a technique magnificently developed by Robert Zemeckis who will repeat in other films as ¨Beowulf¨ and ¨Christmas Carol¨ . A highly recommended film that nobody should miss it especially during Christmas time . ¨Robert Zemeckis's Polar Express¨ still ranks as one of the best adaptations of Christmas stories ever. This animated retelling about a doubting little boy taken on a journey of self-redemption and knowledge will appeal to Tom Hanks buffs , computer games enthusiasts and eye-candy fans .

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