The Polar Express

2004 US-Canadian-UK animated film directed by Robert Zemeckis

The Polar Express is a 2004 film about a boy who learns the the true meaning of Christmas when he takes a train ride to the North Pole.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Written by Robert Zemeckis and William Broyles, based on the children's book of the same title by Chris Van Allsburg.
This Holiday Season... Believe (taglines)


Conductor: Well? Are you comin'?
Hero Boy: [confused] Where?
Conductor: Why, to the North Pole, of course! This is the Polar Express!
Hero Boy: [unsure of how to react] The North Pole?

Conductor: [angrily storms in] Who in the blazes applied that emergency brake?!
Know-It-All: [points to the Hero Boy] He did!
Conductor: [sternly] You. [angrily approaches the Hero Boy] In case you didn't know, that cord is for emergency purposes only. And in case you weren't aware, tonight [waves his hand out the window to signal the engineer to get moving] is Christmas Eve! [closes the window] And in case you hadn't noticed, this train is on a very tight schedule. Now, young man, Christmas may not be important to some people, but it is very important to the [points to his face] rest of us!
Hero Boy: [appalled] But-But-But-But... [stammers]
Hero Girl: [points to the next car; raising her voice] He was just trying to stop the train so that kid could get on.
[The Conductor grunts and sees Billy sitting down alone in the next car]
Conductor: [calms down] Hmm. I see. Young man, is that what happened? [Hero Boy and Hero Girl nod; clicks his tongue, clearly feeling somewhat bad about getting so worked up] Well...let me remind you. We are on a very tight schedule, [checks watch; urgently yet stern] a-and I've never been late before, and I am certainly not going to be late tonight! Now, everybody, take your seats, please! [everyone sits down; venomously] Thank you.

Conductor: [to Hero Girl; incredulous] You mean, you have lost your ticket?
Hero Boy: [comes forward; shamefully] She didn't lose her ticket. I did. I was trying to return it to you, [lowly] but the wind blew it out of my hand. [the conductor gasps and scoffs in annoyance and disbelief. Hero Boy offers Hero Girl his ticket] You can have my ticket.
Conductor: Ah! [snatches it] These tickets... [hissingly] are not...transferable. [gives back the Hero Boy his ticket] Young lady, you will just have to come along with me. [they leave through the back of the car. He glares and shakes his head at Hero Boy in disappointment through the window]
Know-It-All: You know what's gonna happen now, don't ya? He’s gonna throw her off the train. [the others gasp and murmur in horror at the very thought] Yeah, he's gonna probably throw her right at the rear platform. It’s standard procedure. [Hero Boy looks through the window and sees the conductor escorting Hero Girl to the very back of the train] That way, she won’t get sucked down under the wheels. They may slow the train down a little bit, but they’re never gonna stop it.
Hero Boy: "Stop it"? [realizes] That’s it! I have to stop the train again.
Know-It-All: [worriedly] No, please, don’t do that again!
[As the other kids protest, Hero Boy prepares to pull the brake, but notices Hero Girl's ticket in the vent and pulls it out before it can get sucked in]

Hobo: Is there somethin' I can do for you?
Hero Boy: I'm looking for a girl.
Hobo: A gi-? [bursts out laughing hysterically] Ain't we all?!
Hero Boy: I have her ticket.

Hobo: What exactly your persuasion...on the big man? Since you brought him up.
Hero Boy: Well, I...I want to believe, but-
Hobo: But... you don’t wanna be bamboozled. You don't wanna be led down the primrose path! You don’t wanna be conned or duped, have the wool pulled over your eyes. Hoodwinked. You don't wanna be taken for a ride, railroaded! [extinguishes his campfire] Seeing is believing. Am I right?
Hero Boy: But what about this train?

Hobo: That skirt you're chasin' must've moved on ahead. We gotta hightail it to the hog, pronto!
Hero Boy: [confused] To the hog?
Hobo: The engine. The engine, you tenderfoot. We gotta make the engine before we hit Flat-Top Tunnel.
Hero Boy: H-How come?
Hobo: [exasperated] So many questions. There is but one inch of clearance between the roof of this rattler and the roof of Flat-Top Tunnel. Savvy? It's just a run up to the hump, kid! This'll be interesting! [slides backward and uses his muck stick on the handle, but Hero Boy slips off him] Get back on, kid! Hurry! Grab my muck stick! [Hero Boy does so and he swings him back on the roof and the sled down to the engine] There's only one trick to this, kid! When I say "jump"... [Flat-Top Tunnel's eyes and teeth emit an orange smoke] JUMP!!!
[Hero Boy jumps and slides down the tender filled with coal and finds Hero Girl in charge of the train]
Hero Boy: [to Hero Girl; dumbfounded] You?! I thought you got thrown off’re drivin’ the train!?
Hero Girl: They put me in charge. The engineer had to check the light.
Steamer: [holding a light bulb for Smokey to install on the train] Here's the light! Careful. All right, now!

[After Hero Boy stops the train seconds before impact with thousands of caribou, the fireman and engineer, the twins on the front of the engine on the train are shocked to see what they find]
Engineer: Caribou?! [the caribou sniffs in his face] Ugh.
Conductor: There can be no Christmas without the Polar Express arriving on time! Am I the only one who understands that?[enters the engine cab; notices Hero Boy] YOU?! [Hero Boy stands up] I should've known. [angrily] Young man, are you bound and determined that this train never reaches the North Pole?!
Hero Girl: [points outside] But look!
[The conductor looks outside and is utterly in disbelief]
Conductor: [shouts] CARIBOU CROSSING?!
Engineer: I make that herd to be at least a hundred thousand, maybe even a million. It's gonna be hours before they clear this track!

Hero Boy: We're goin' pretty fast.
Conductor: Tell the engineer to slow down.
Hero Girl: Slow it down! Watch the speed!
[The cotter pin comes apart]
Engineer: Ah! Jumping jeepers, the cotter pin sheared off!
Fireman: What?
Engineer: The pin!
Fireman: Where?
Engineer: There!
[The cotter pin falls through a vent]
Engineer and Fireman: Oh, no!
Hero Girl: They can't hear me!
Conductor: They can't? [notices they're approaching Glacier Gulch; gasps] I don't like the look of this. Quick, under the safety bar!
Hero Boy: [scared to death] Is every...Is everything all right?! [the conductor pulls his robe belt off and ties it around them to the safety bar] What should we do?!
Conductor: Well, considering the fact that we have lost communication with the engineer, we are standing totally exposed on the front of the locomotive, the train appears to be accelerating uncontrollably, and we are rapidly approaching Glacier Gulch, [Hero Girl whimpers] which just happens to be the steepest downhill grade in the world, I suggest we all hold on...TIGHTLY!!!!!!!!!
[The train speeds down with the Conductor, Hero Boy, and Hero Girl standing on the front of the engine while everyone screams]
Engineer and Fireman: Whoa! The pin!
[They try to grab it, but goes down to the engineer's stomach leaving him yelling]
Conductor: Jiminy Christmas, the ice has frozen over the tracks!

Conductor: All right. All right, ladies and gentlemen, two columns, if you please. Shorter in the front, taller in the rear. Even-numbered birthdays on the right, odd-numbered on the left. No pushing. No pushing. But let's not dilly-dally, it's five minutes to midnight.
Know-It-All: Hey, what gives? It was 5 minutes until midnight 4 minutes ago.
Conductor: Exactly!

Hero Boy: We're gonna be okay. [they get diverted onto another track downhill] MAYBE NOT!!! The emergency brake! The emergency brake! [hurries to the front of the car] There's no brake! I CAN'T FIND THE BRAKE!!!!

[Something grabs Billy's foot]
Billy: AAAH! Something's got me! It's got my leg!
[The Hero Boy and Hero Girl grab Billy's arm]
Hero Girl: I can't hold him!
Hero Boy: Give me your other hand. Give me your other hand!
Billy: I can't!
Hero Boy: On 3! 1, 2, 3! [they pull Billy up, but he is still stuck] Look! [sees a hand grabbing Billy's foot]
Billy: It's still got me!
Hero Boy: On three again! One, two, three! [they pull Billy up again, and the person pulling Billy is revealed to be the Know-It-All] YOU!
Know-It-All: [feigning shock] You?!
Hero Girl: What are you doing here??
Know-It-All: Same as you, I'm checkin' out my Christmas presents. I wanna make sure I'm gettin' everything on my list. All I found was one present, and all it had was a bunch of stupid underwear!

Hero Girl: It's everything I dreamed it would be.
Billy: Could all this be nothing but a dream?
Hero Boy: [proudly] No.
Know-It-All: Hey! You'll get coonies on 'em!

[All the children gather with the Conductor and elves in the North Pole city square. The elves bring the reindeer out]
Elves: [singing] It's the spirit of the season! You can feel it in the air! You can hear it if you listen! Everywhere, so much care, like a prayer, whatever it is, you need to share it! [the reindeer are lined up] It's the spirit of the season! [horns are played. The elves bring the harnesses out] It's the spirit of the season! You can feel it in the air! [Everyone cheers. The elves place the harnesses on the reindeer]
Hero Girl: Aren't those bells the most beautiful sound?
[The Hero Boy is unable to hear the bells. The entire square grows silent]
Elves: [singing] Ohhh, you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm tellin' you why! Santa Claus is comin'...TO TOWN!
[Santa finally emerges from the doors. A massive cheer erupts from the children and elves as Frank Sinatra's 1948 recording of "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" begins blaring over the city's PA system]
Hero Girl: [elated] He's here! He's here!
Hero Boy: [confused] Where!?
Billy: [ecstatic] I see him! He's over there!
Hero Boy: I can't see him! [the Conductor takes off his hat in respect. He's unable to see Santa, due to the elves stacking themselves on top of each other, blocking his view] I can't see him! I CAN'T SEE HIM!!!
[Suddenly, a loud clatter erupts from the reindeer, who prance about excitedly. The camera zooms in on the Hero Boy's eyes. The sequence begins to slow down. A bell breaks loose from the harness and is thrown into the air. The bell falls back down, bounces on the ground and rolls right to the Hero Boy]

Santa: I see you've made some new friends.
Billy: Yes, sir. I sure have.
Santa: That's a lucky lad. There’s no greater gift than friendship.
Conductor: We made it! With 5 minutes to spare! We made it!

Adult Hero Boy: [narrating] At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell. But as years passed, it felt silent for all of them. Even Sarah found, one Christmas, that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me. As it does for all who truly believe.


  • This Holiday Season... Believe
  • Journey Beyond Your Imagination
  • Don't miss the holiday film of the season


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