Sunday, October 7, 2012

Hugo (2011)

 Hugo Cabret: Maybe that's why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn't able to do what it was meant to do... Maybe it's the same with people. If you lose your purpose... it's like you're broken.~from Hugo (2011)
 One of the most delightful films of 2011 is indubitably Martin Scorsese's Hugo, about an orphan boy in 1920's Paris who lives inside the walls of the Gare de Montparnasse. The son of a watchmaker, Hugo Cabret winds the many clocks in the train station for his drunken uncle, who has abandoned him, leaving him without food, which he is compelled to steal. His only possession is a broken automaton, which he is trying to fix so he will not feel so alone in the world. In the meantime, he meets a charming little girl named Isabelle, the goddaughter of the crusty old toy seller in the station. Together they are determined to discover the mystery of the automaton. Told with a fairy tale quality, what begins as the adventure of a lost child becomes a story of the rediscovery of a great artist and inventor, Georges Méliès.

 According to The Guardian:
Hugo has more secrets: he is trying to repair and restore a remarkable automaton which had come into the possession of his late father (Jude Law), a kindly watchmaker. But without Hugo quite realising it, this robot hides within its workings the secret of the 20th century's great new art form. Young Hugo is to come into contact with Isabelle (Chloë Moretz) and her formidable old grandpa, who runs a toy stall on the station platform: he is, in fact, M Georges Méliès, the great film-maker and innovator, now fallen on hard times. Ben Kingsley plays Méliès, and gives him the melancholy air of a deposed and exiled king, or at any rate someone who has been marginalised by great historical forces which he himself has brought into being: a little like Robert Donat's William Friese-Greene, the British cinema pioneer, in John Boulting's 1951 film The Magic Box. The illustrated novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, on which this movie is based, was inspired by the nonfiction study Edison's Eve, by British author Gaby Wood, which discussed Méliès's lost collection of automata.
Many clips from the amazing films of Georges Méliès are woven into the movie. To quote a review from science fiction site
Silent movie director, inventor and magician Georges Méliès is easily the grandfather of science fiction film. We even included his adaptation of Jules Verne's 1866 novel The Adventures of Captain Hatteras "The Conquest of the Pole" in our Top 50 Scariest Films of all Time. But you probably know him best as the man who launched a rocket into the eye of the moon. This turn-of-the-century film maker is a very important part of Martin Scorsese's new movie Hugo, you could even argue that this entire movie is Scorsese's love letter to Méliès. Hidden inside Hugo are loads of real-life facts about the grandfather of science fiction.
  As one would expect from Scorsese, Hugo is a lavish, magnificently crafted film, celebrating the wonder of childhood. Not that Hugo is necessarily a children's film, in fact some small children might find parts of it distressing. It nevertheless captures the childlike sense of awe with which all of us are born, and which filmmakers like Méliès and Scorsese are able to capture.


1 comment:

julygirl said...

Thanks for sharing your insight on this remarkable film. I am not a fan of Martin Scorses films in general wherein the blood flows freely, but in films such as "Hugo" and "The Age of Innocence" he invokes his range as a director and his ability to delve into the souls of the characters.