Monday, November 21, 2011
"The Invention of Hugo Cabret" written by Brian Selznick is the inspiration for Martin Scorsese in the film "Hugo". Brian Selznick has described the book as "not exactly a novel, not quite a picture book, not really a graphic novel, or a flip book or a movie, but a combination of all these things." Martin Scorsese has taken this book that shows appreciation for Georges Méliès, a French Filmmaker famous for leading many technical and narrative developments in the earliest cinema, and presents the story with modern techniques and equipment that invites your to dream. Georges Méliès most iconic film "Trip to the Moon" is used throughout "Hugo" and provides a refreshing viewing for a new audience.
The story centers around twelve-year-old Hugo (Asa Butterfield) who is an orphan, clock keeper, who lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station. He is desperately seeking to complete the project that he started with his father before his mysterious death of repairing an automaton and in doing so steals extra parts from a toy booth in the train station owned by Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley). After getting caught, his path becomes interlocks with the god-daughter of Georges Méliès who is a very eccentric girl (Chloë Grace Moretz).
Hugo finds solace in maintaining the clocks within the train station, and in repairing toys. He finds sadness in the broken machines and finds it as his purpose to repair them. Hugo feels that machines don't come with extra parts; they have the exact pieces they need. If we live in a machine then we all have a purpose and none of us can be extra. We just need to find out purpose.
Scorsese does a brilliant job presenting the silent films of Georges Méliès as the backdrop to the story being told in 3D. Film making began as a sideshow novelty that turned into a way to tell stories. However, today film making brings our dreams to life with amazing lighting, digital cameras, special effects and 3D technology. The performances from the adults and the wide-eyed children are all very well done. Ben Kingsley stands out along with the smaller roles from Emily Mortimer (also seen in "My Idiot Brother"), Michael Stuhlbarg (best known from "Boardwalk Empire"), Christopher Lee and several actors that fans of "Harry Potter" will recognize.
"Hugo" very well might be a sleeper selection for the Oscars as a best picture, but more realistically Scorsese will deserve a nomination along with some technical awards for editing. The story provides an excellent background to the film "The Artist" that will be coming to theaters soon. Overall the film starts slow, but finishes very strong and is worthy of a 4 Quack rating.