Christmas Marathon: Polar Express (2004)

After an extremely late night partying on Christmas eve with my family and finally getting back to sleep at around 3am, which is extremely late for me, my boyfriend and I both sat down to watch this beautiful flick.  One of the two we always leave for Christmas Day to see.  While he has decided to nap a bit to continue our feasting tonight, I’m taking a moment to sit down and write this.

Before that, I’d like to talk about the how the belief in Santa.  A child’s belief in Santa may be naive but it keeps that childhood happy spirit going.  It gives them hope and joy to find surprises.  Its magical how a little belief can make the little ones so happy.  Every year I watch my boyfriend’s niece and nephew open their presents.  When they were younger, they would have my boyfriend disguise as Santa Claus and play out the whole Santa Claus scene, now we just scurry them off into another room and have all the women make lots of noise to cover up the guys moving everything up and pretending that Santa visit. Its just amazing to see their faces light up when they walk into the living room and see a surprise pile of gifts for not only them but EVERYONE in the room.

This movie ties in exactly to that feeling, the idea of believing.

Polar ExpressPOLAR EXPRESS (2004)

Director: Robert Zemeckis (A Christmas Carol)

Cast: Tom Hanks, Eddie Deezen, Nona Gaye, Peter Scolari

Its Christmas Eve and we zoom into a little boy (Tom Hanks) and his family.  We learn through a conversation with  his parents and his younger sister Sarah that he doubts Santa’s existence.  In the middle of the night, he hears a loud sound and goes outside and there he sees a magical train called Polar Express.  He is invited by the Conductor (Tom Hanks). Unsure at first, still he decides to board the train that is supposed to reach North Pole.  There he meets a little girl (Nona Gaye) who believes in Santa and thinks its the most wonderful experience to go and Billy (Peter Scolari), a little boy who feels lonely and scared.  During the path, they meet have obstacles to get to the final destination to actually witness Santa’s liftoff to start his night long task of delivering gifts.  Its a story of belief, faith and trust.

A movie that amazes me every time because of its values that it tries to carry out.  Even as an adult now, its so crucial to believe and have faith and trust even though it can be hard at times.  Especially when we have something as imaginary as Santa Claus, who appears to accomplish the impossible.  However, this flick attempts to bring this whole idea alive to show that when you believe, thats when you will feel and sense certain things that could fade away.  It shows us that belief can easily be forgotten if we don’t hold on to it.

Aside from that, this one has beautiful animation and a wonderful plot to add to all the characters they introduce.  The majority of the characters don’t have a name and we only know them for the roles they do.  Tom Hanks voices 6 of the characters and does a phenomenal job at it.  He can be a palette of different emotions portrayed on all the characters.  There was a bit of singing and music everywhere which helped lift up the mood.  One word on the director though, he’s also the director of another movie I watched for this Christmas marathon.  Also starring one actor voicing multiple parts in an animation, called Disney’s A Christmas Carol (you can click HERE to see that). He seems particularly skilled at doing Christmas movies and using this one actor multiple parts concept.  Very fun and unique way to arrange the voices of an animation.  Plus the animated characters actually sometimes resemble a bit of the actor voicing them.

One of my favorite characters in this has to be the Conductor of the train.  That character seems to be so insightful.  I’d like to quote a few that I liked:

“Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.” -Conductor, Polar Express

“The thing about trains… it doesn’t matter where they’re going. What matters is deciding to get on.”- Conductor, Polar Express

Was the belief of Santa a part of your childhood?

 

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Christmas Marathon: Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas (2011)

Ice_Age_A_Mammoth_ChristmasMy first reaction to this was WAIT! it was a TV short.  That’s what happens when you don’t have cable or satellite TV.  All I have is my beautiful HD bunny ears.  I upgraded them last year to be able to catch my normal public television broadcasting channels.  They were pretty awesome because now I get a fuzzy NBC and CBS.  And you wonder why I buy all my movies, right?

ICE AGE: A MAMMOTH CHRISTMAS

Cast: Ray Ramano, Queen Latifah, Dennis Leary, John Leguizamo

A Mammoth Christmas is the about Christmas in the Ice Age world.  We start by seeing Manny’s heirloom rock that will lead Santa to know where his family is.  Sid has his wonderful ideas as usual and throws in the idea of decorating a Christmas tree a la Ice Age style with worms as tinsels and fish skeletons as ornaments. In the process, of course he destroys it, as he does to everything else.  Its here that Manny  makes up the idea of Santa’s naughty list and then Peaches (his daughter) overhears that he doesn’t believe in Santa.  With this, Sid goes with Peaches  along with the two possum brothers, Eddie and Crash to go to North Pole to find Santa to take themselves off the naughty list and to prove that Santa exists.  Along the way, we meet Prancer, a flying magical reindeer and the infamous Santa Claus.

This is a TV short so its about 25 mins or so.  Seeing as its a short, it actually does accomplish quite a bit and makes it easy to get into especially when it brings up all the Christmas traditions we know customized to Ice Age.  Even if I’m not a big fan of Ice Age, (and my review on the 4th one proves it.  You can check that out HERE if you’re interested) this one was alright.  It had a nice Christmas spirit going.  I can see how certain Ice Age fans would appreciate it and maybe get some new fans.  Just a nice relaxing kids movie to put in your DVD or Blu-ray or catch on TV to end off your night and get some family time.

I always wonder after How I Train a Dragon Christmas movie and now this one, why I ever pick up these movies.  Its not that they are bad and some times, its actually quite fun and lighthearted watch but still, to spend money on a 20-30 minute Christmas special (that is not a classic) is a bit silly in my book.  However, here they are, sitting in my movie collection.  The things we do, right?

So ICE AGE, do you dig it? Which movie (out of the 4 and this one) do you like? Have you seen this Christmas special?

Santa Claus Around the World

Last Friday, I had a little lunch stroll to take some pictures around the area.  I made it a point to stop at the World Trade Centre Building because every year they have a fantastic exhibit of Santa Claus.  Its from the traditions of all over the world and how they came to be.  Its pretty neat actually.

As a part of Christmas celebrations, I’m taking you on a Santa journey around the world.  Sounds fun, right? Lets go!

Father Ice

The first one we have is Father Ice (also known as Dedt Moroz) and his legend is originated from Siberia.  The story is that a kind and gentle girl was pushed from her own home by her (Evil) Stepmother to the Frozen Forest during a storm.  Father Ice appeared and showered her with diamonds.  The stepmother learns about this and sends her own daughter to do the same.  Disgusted by this, Father Ice froze her for eternity.

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21st Century Santa

Santa Claus is rocking it in the 21st Century here with his gadgets and staying fit.  It seems 21st Century Santa is doing what we saw in Arthur Christmas. Cellphone to keep in contact with the North Pole headquarters and he even has a tablet to track the gifts for the children.

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Black Peter

Black Peter helps St. Nicholas in taking care of the bad children.  He is more known in Central Europe through different names such as Butz and Hans Trapp in different parts of Germany and Pere Fouettard in France.  If you’re a naughty one, he’ll be the one dropping off that lump of coal.  Apparently if the naughty child’s behaviour has changed, he will deliver a gift instead.

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Russian Saint Nicholas

Russian Saint Nicholas is actually a Ukrainian version of Saint Nicholas from the growth of belief in Christianity into Russia.  By the 1800s, it had established this figure as the Russian Saint Nicholas that gave birch rod switches as punishment and a reward of gift symbolized by the christmas tree.

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Saint-Nicholas- Bishop of Myra

This is seemingly where it all started.  Saint Nicholas was a bishop at the church in Myra, a city in Asia Minor.  He has a deep understanding of the church at a young age and this made him a church high official and was called “Boy Bishop”.  There aren’t many written stories about him as they were mostly passed on generation after generation secretly by families.  We know him by all the names around Santa Claus, Kriss Kringle,  Pere Noel, Father Christmas, etc but he remains a symbol of unselfish generosity, good cheer and joy.

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Medieval Santa

Medieval Santa was known to be around the twelfth century when there were kings and castles and wizardry and so on and so forth. During the Christmas season, the castle gates would remain open and Medieval Santa would give out gifts by foot and spreading good cheer.  The folklore goes that when his load was too heavy, he would have merry gnomes helping him out.

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Bavarian Santa

The Lutheran Church in Bavaria saw Santa in a different way. They saw him as the messenger of the Angels.  This Santa would bring the requests of the children up to heaven and then would descend to give the gifts from the angels.

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 North Pole Santa Claus

So we finally arrive at the one that is most widely known and its North Pole Santa Claus to end things off.

Its a nice little exhibit on Santa Claus all around the world.  Which one do you like the best? Have you heard of any of these before?  I’ve only heard of North Pole Santa and Saint Nicholas-Bishop of Myra, the other ones are actually quite new to me.