October 26, 2011 marked the 100th anniversary of the first motion picture ever filmed in Hollywood. Since then, the art of creating dreams and telling stories has evolved to a level that no one person could ever have predicted at its inception.
For one filmmaker though, the task of finding the right tale to capture his love and adoration for cinema, came in the form of a novel, The Invention of Hugo Caberet written by Brian Selznick. Martin Scorsese became enamored with the idea of being able to pay homage to a medium that has inspired and transformed his world around him.
But HUGO has become more than Scorsese’s first family film. It is a pioneer in itself, a film to pay homage to the godfather of special effects, George Méliès while being technologically advanced in the realm of three dimensional cinema.
“Méliès’s films have an exuberance, joy, and excitement I associate with the actual creation of this new art form and I wanted to capture that,” Scoreses said. “As a moviemaker, I feel we owe everything to Georges Méliès. And when I go back and look at his original films, I feel inspired, because they carry the thrill of discovery over one hundred years after they were made; and because they are among the first, powerful expressions of an art form that I’ve loved, and to which I’ve devoted myself for the better part of my life.”
The beginning of HUGO transports us to Paris of the early 30’s. The spansive views of the city, illuminate the entire screen while the perception of snowflakes falls on the audience. We then are swooped down into the station and soar between the trains, gliding effortlessly among the luggage and travelers. From there, we are taken to an alluring section of the station, where the inner workings of the massive clocks are exposed raw for us to absorb. They are bewitching as each gear, married, moves in conjunction with the other. And there lies a little boy, making sure that it is oiled and on time. Scorsese had us within the first five minutes of the film.
But to summarize, Hugo is about a young boy that has to deal with real life issues as he becomes orphaned at young age. Living inconspicuously in a Paris train station, winding and repairing the numerous clocks all around him, his anonymity in his work provides shelter while continuing the the trade of his father. With the only remaining artifact from a life he once led, the young boy spends his free time desperately trying to restore an Automaton, in the hopes of something magical happening.
However, the young boy soon finds himself in trouble and unknowingly befriends a local toymaker in the station along with his goddaughter. It is through these relationships that he forms does the boy discover what the definition of magic truly is.
HUGO is a film that I cannot sing enough praise over. The acting is superb and cinematically, the film is absolutely groundbreaking and visually stunning. The 3D graphics are not used as gimmicks but as a total enhancement to the movie going experience. In addition, the last half of the film becomes an ode to original cinema and an homage to the great, George Melies. As there is something magical about the story and the relationships that evolve, there is undeniably something magical about this film.
What James Cameron and Avator did for 3D, Martin Scorsese and HUGO took to another level. This is how three dimensional films should be viewed!
Cast and Credit:
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Ben Kingsley-George Melies
Sasha Baron Cohen-Station Inspector
Asa Butterfield-Hugo Cabret
Chloe Grace Moretz-Isabelle
Christopher Lee-Monsieur Labisse