The Movie Special

DVD Reviews 'n More

HUGO (2011)

Martin Scorsese pays homage to the magic of cinema with his first 3D family film, Hugo, which is based on Brian Selznick’s children’s novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”. Hugo is not only for kids, but also for the film lovers of all ages who will be enchanted by this visually stunning adventure and the homage paid to the early pioneer filmmakers.

It’s year 1931 and Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan living inside a clock in the Parisian train station, Gare Montparnasse. He maintains all the clocks at the station – a job his uncle had before he disappeared. Hugo’s dad (Jude Law) was a horologist and passed on his passion of anything mechanical to Hugo. He also left Hugo an automaton and Hugo is determined to fix it – just like he and his dad had planned. Hugo receives help from Isabelle (Chloë Moretz), whose grandfather Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley) runs the toy store at the station. Together Hugo and Isabelle discover that Méliès was a filmmaker who made hundreds of movies. Hugo decides to help Méliès to find his passion and art again while he also unravels the secrets of the automation.

In real life Georges Méliès made more than 500 short films between 1896 and 1913 – his most famous film was also the first ever science fiction film Voyage to the Moon or A Trip to the Moon (French: Le Voyage dans la lune). His company went bankrupt and most of his films were melted and turned into shoe heels. Méliès did end up working in a toy store before he was discovered again and copies of his films were found one by one – and still new discoveries are being made.

The Smashing Pumpkins’ music video Tonight, Tonight based on the movies of Georges Méliès

Hugo is Martin Scorsese’s direction at its best with an incredible focus on even the tiniest detail. No wonder this movie won 5 Oscars including Art Direction, Cinematography and Visual Effects. Scorsese focuses on the mechanics of the clocks, automaton, train station, camera etc. by showing how the wheels, gears, shutters or tracks turn and create a world of movement. Cinematographer Robert Richardson does an incredible job.

In this screenplay adapted by John Logan there is a fascinating mixture of secondary storylines at the train station including the love stories between the pompous station inspector (incredibly funny Sacha Baron Cohen) and the flower girl Lisette (Emily Mortimer); and between Madame Emilie (Frances de la Tour) and Monsieur Frick (Richard Griffiths). All roles splendidly acted.

Last but by no means least Scorsese masterfully recreates Méliès’ early films and Méliès working in his glass studio. Pure magic!

Truly a magical film about how a boy looking for a family and a filmmaker who has lost his passion are brought together by their shared love for the cinema. Martin Scorsese simply is the best director of our time.

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May 2012
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