The Polar Express

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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)

Adult Hero Boy[edit]

  • [opening narration] On Christmas Eve, many years ago, I lay 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 ringing bells of Santa's sleigh.
  • [closing narration] 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!


  • One thing about trains; it doesn't matter where you're going. What matters is get on. [winks at Hero Boy]


Conductor: Well? You coming?
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: I see. Hold this, please. Thank you. Is this you?
Hero Boy: Yeah?
Conductor: Well, it says here: No photo with a department-store Santa this year, no letter to Santa. And you made your sister put out the milk and cookies. Mm-mm.Sounds to me like this is your crucial year. If I were you... I would think about climbing onboard.

Know-It-All: Hey! Hey, you! Yeah, you! Do you know what kind of train this is?
Hero Boy: Huh?
Know-It-All: Train, do you know what kind of train this is? Well, do ya?
Hero Boy: Uh...
Hero Girl: Of course! It's a MAGIC train! We're going to the North Pole.
Know-It-All: Ah, I know it's a magic train. Actually, it's a Baldwin 284 S3-class Berkshire steam locomotive, built in 1931 at the Baldwin Locomotive Works. It weighs 456,100 pounds and has attractive 456,450 pounds, top speed is --
Hero Boy: [overlapping] Are we really going to the North Pole?
Hero Girl: Mm-hmm.
Know-It-All: Hey, look everybody!
Hero Girl: Isn't that wonderful?
Know-It-All: Herpolsheimer's! Herpolsheimer's!
[Herpolsheimer's passes by outside.]
Know-It-All: Wow, look at all those presents! I want ALL of 'em!
Hero Girl: It's so Christmassy and cozy and beautiful.

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 a number of the kids, and then to his own face] rest of us!
Hero Boy: [appalled] But-But-But-But... [stammers]
Hero Girl: [points to the next car; voice breaking] 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. [The train starts again, and he grabs his microphone.] Your attention, please. Are there any Polar Express passengers in need of refreshment?
Kids: [raising their hands] Me! Me! Me! Me!
Conductor: I thought so.

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 anger 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 off 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.]
Hero Boy: Where'd they go? What happened to them?! [Billy doesn't respond.] Please! She's in big trouble! You have to help me! [He then sees the shadows of both the conductor and Hero Girl heading towards the engine after Billy looks up to show him where. He then rushes towards the ladder of the Observation Car to chase after the two. The space is narrow and he struggles to climb up, but he reaches the top and calls out to Hero Girl.] Hey! Hey! I found your ticket! Wait! Hey! Wait! I have your ticket!
[He slowly struggles to move forward because of the snow and the winds. He then finds a campfire ahead and the Hobo behind it. He is humming the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas".]

Hobo: [humming] When the snow lay 'round 'bout, deep and crisp... [notices Hero Boy] 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: [takes the ticket] Well, lookie. Lookie here. Oh, this is a... this is an official, authentic, genuine ticket to ride. Oh, you'd better keep this in a safe place, young man. [gives the ticket back to Hero Boy] If I was you, I keep all my valuables right here. [shows his shoe] Right here in the old size 13. Experience shows this is the safest place. [Hero Boy places Hero Girl's ticket inside his shoe, under his foot where it will be safe.] Not that I have much use for those. Tickets. Nah. I ride for free. Oh, yeah, yeah. I hop aboard this rattler anytime I feels like it. I own this train. Oh, yeah. It's like I'm the king of this train. Yeah. The king of the Pol Ex. In fact, I am the king of the North Pole! [voice echoes and laughs] Oh, where's my manners? Sit, sit. Sit. Sit. Take a... take a load off. Hey, would you like some Joe? Nice hot refreshment. Perfect for a cold winter's night. [He pours some Joe in a cup and gives it to Hero Boy, who looks at it and takes a sip, but then coughs and chokes.] There, bless you.

Hobo: What exactly is... is 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: What about it?

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.
Smokey: [holding a light bulb for Steamer to install on the train] Here's the light! Careful. All right, now!
Steamer: I got it!
[He catches the light bulb while holding onto Smokey's long beard, but while doing so, he pulls his twin's beard, causing him to yell in pain. Meanwhile, back inside the engine...]
Hero Boy: How do you know how?
Hero Girl: It's easy. Come here, I'll show you. This big lever here, that's the throttle. This little one here, that's the brake. And those are the pressure gauges. And that rope is the whistle.
Hero Boy: The whistle?
Hero Girl: Mmm-hmm. You wanna try it?
Hero Boy: [does so and pulls the rope, blowing the whistle] I've wanted to do that my whole life!
[He blows the whistle again. Back to Smokey and Steamer, the former is screaming in pain as his beard is being pulled by the latter trying to install the light bulb in the light socket of the engine.]
Steamer: Hold still! Hold still! Don't move!
[He finally installs the light bulb in the socket, turning the train's light back on. Smokey then sees something up ahead.]
Smokey: [points forward] Look!
Steamer: [looks to where his twin is pointing, and becomes alarmed] What?! [He lets go of Smokey's beard and he gets his head stuck in the train's bell. He then takes a further look up ahead, and yells out to Hero Girl.] Stop the train! Stop the train! Stop the train! STOP...THE...TRAIN!
Hero Boy: What?!
Hero Girl: They want us to stop the train.

[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]
Steamer: Caribou?! [the caribou sniffs in his face] Ugh.
Conductor: [sick and tired of all the delays tonight] 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 in utter disbelief]
Conductor: [screams angrily] CARIBOU CROSSING?!
Steamer: 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!
Smokey: A tough nut to crack!
Conductor: We are in some serious jelly.
Steamer: And a jam.
Smokey: Tight spot!
Steamer: Up a creek.
Smokey: Up a tree!
Steamer: Lost in the grass.
Smokey: I'll tell you what's grass! Our --
[Hero Boy tugs on his beard, causing him to groan loudly akin to a caribou's call; the lead caribou responds and snorts. Then the conductor pulls Smokey's beard, causing him to groan louder and longer, followed by another response. One more hard tug causes Smokey to groan his loudest, and the lead caribou responds and backs away; all the caribou start to move off the track.]
Conductor: Problem solved! All ahead, slow!

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]
Steamer: Ah! Jumping jeepers, the cotter pin sheared off!
Smokey: What?
Steamer: The pin!
Smokey: Where?
Steamer: There!
[The cotter pin falls through a vent]
Smokey and Steamer: 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 alright?! [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 they scream]
Smokey and Steamer: Whoa! The pin!
[They try to grab it, but goes down to the engineer's stomach leaving him screaming]
Conductor: Jiminy Christmas, the ice has frozen over the tracks!
[The train hits the Ice Lake and slips and slides on the ice. Smokey uses a shovel to force the cotter pin out of Steamer but it flies out of the cab and onto the ice, fracturing it. The train hits an iceberg, causing it to lean sideways and Hero Girl almost falls off, but is grabbed by the conductor and Hero Boy]

Conductor: Alright. Alright, 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 5 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!!!!
Hobo: [materializes next to the manual brake] Take a BREAK, kid! How 'bout a nice, hot cup o' Joe?!

Hero Boy: Hey, look...a present! It's goin' to my town! ...To someone named Billy.
Lonely Boy/Billy: MY name is Billy!!
Hero Girl: It says it's going to 11344 Edbrooke Avenue.
Lonely Boy/Billy: That's MY address!!

[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 yank Billy up, but he is still stuck] Look! [sees a hand grabbing Billy's foot]
Billy: It's still got me!
Hero Boy: On 3 again! 1, 2, 3! [they yank Billy up again, and the person grabbing onto Billy is revealed to be the Know-It-All] [sternly] YOU!
Know-It-All: [feigning shock] You?!
Hero Girl: What are you doing here??
Know-It-All: Same as you, I'm checking out my Christmas presents. I wanna make sure I'm getting everything on my list. All I found was one present, and all it had was a bunch of stupid underwear!

Hero Girl: It's still five to! I think we're gonna make it!
Know-It-All: Of course. It's been five to for the last hour. We got plenty of time. We got nothing but time. We got time to kill.
Hero Boy: You know what? I don't think we're gonna make it.
[The zeppelin is about to crash into the tree.]
Conductor: I may be just an old railroader, and know nothing about lighter-than-air craft, but from my layman's perspective, you need more altitude!!
Elves in crowd: MORE ALTITUDE!!!!!
Elf over speaker: Altitude, please. A bit more altitude, please.
Zeppelin elves: [jumping off] Geronimo!!!
[The decreased weight causes the zeppelin to rise up over the tree safely; the elves parachute to the ground.]
Conductor: The Flying Elves. They are specialists. Do not try that at home, kids. Do not try that at home.

[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 telling you why! Santa Claus is coming... 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 Coming To Town" begins blaring over the city's P.A. sound 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.

Hero Girl: It's everything I dreamed it would be.
Billy: Could all this be nothing but a dream?
Hero Boy: [proudly] No.


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


External links[edit]

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