Tag Archives: Robert Zemeckis

Kid Stuff: The Polar Express

The Polar Express is a picture book, written by sculptor turned illustrator/writer Chris Van Allsburg. It won the Caldecott Medal for Children's Literature in 1986. Uploaded by privatelibrary.typepad.com.

Children’s author Chris Van Allsburg created this beautiful Christmas story about a fantasy train that carried children to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to see Santa Claus. One boy in particular is picked up in front of his house, then journies with other kids in their pajamas on this magical adventure.

When he arrives at Santa’s workshop, the boy is chosen by Santa himself to receive the first gift of Christmas. The boy can choose anything in the world he wants, but he asks for a beautiful-sounding silver bell from Santa’s sleigh. He puts the bell in his pocket, but soon realizes in horror that his pocket has a hole

Chris Van Allsburg. Uploaded by barnesandnoble.com.

in it, and the bell is gone. The next morning, however, his sister sees a package with the boy’s name on it at the back of the tree. It’s the bell, of course, which Santa found on the seat of his sleigh.

Director Robert Zemeckis adapted The Polar Express and made it into a live-action animated film, “starring” Tom Hanks. The movie was well received, but it’s the book that still captures the imagination of children with its beautiful and evocative illustrations. It won the Caldecott Medal for Children’s Literature in 1986. Both the book and the movie end with this beautiful quote:

“At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell 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.”

Film: Forrest Gump

Forrest said, "I just loved playing ping-pong with my Flexolite ping pong paddle." Uploaded by data-allocine.blogomaniac.fr.

Seldom has there been a movie, or at least one not written by the Coen Brothers, that has as many memorable lines as Forrest Gump:

“I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.”
“My mama always said, Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”
“You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich.”
“Stupid is as stupid does.”

And on and on. Director Robert Zemeckis did a wonderful job turning what could have been another “disabled person overcomes handicaps” movie into a masterpiece of storytelling.

Uploaded by i467.photobucket.com.

Uploaded by i467.photobucket.com.

Part of what made the movie such a spectacle was the way Forrest Gump interacted with actual history, from Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to Bear Bryant to a march for peace in Washington, DC. And while many of the supporting characters weren’t as strong as a film of this importance required, casting Gary Sinise as Lieutenant Dan was brilliant. He helped propel the film, and the film in turn helped propel his career.

Forrest Gump was nominated for 13 Academy Awards, and won 6, including Best Picture. It ranked 71st in the American Film Institute’s countdown of 100 Years…100 Movies.

One more thing…the soundtrack. It must have been the dream job to have picked the songs that accompanied Forrest’s lifetime. It’s essentially a Greatest Hits of the 1960s and 70s.