Hugo (2011)

Hugo (2011)The minute Hugo (2011) began I knew I had made a massive mistake in not seeing this in its intended format of 3D, something that I’ll be kicking myself for ages. There are certain films that once I have seen then in 3D I won’t want to see them any other way as my first encounter is the intended way it should be screened. Putting that niggle to one side I sat down to the only children’s film that Scorsese has ever made that is daughter can watch until she’s old enough to see the likes if Goodfellas (1990) and Taxi Driver (1976) et-al. At least she is able to see the passion that drives the man who has sneaked in a message of film preservation during an enchanting film that follows a young boy Hugo (Asa Butterfield) who wants to complete his late clock working father (Jude Law) work on an automaton that vaguely resembles the professors robotic creation in Metropolis (1927).

Silent movies are at the heart of this film that is opened up to a whole new generation, exploring the directors passion for film, not just when he was growing in the fifties, but that further exploration that influenced his films. Here relying not on the old techniques but those of the future of cinema filmed in 3D, instead not relying on gimmicky spectacle of the format, of things coming out at you, the camera moves into the immersive world of the Parisian train station with all the steam and the cogs of the clocks that Hugo is left to maintain. His drive to complete his fathers work comes to ahead when the note-book that was kept is confiscated by the owner Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley) of a clockwork toy booth in the station. What begins is a fascinating journey for Hugo as he completes the automaton which is only the beginning of this exciting adventure.

Along with Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) who is in the care of the toy shop owner who is evasive of the determined boy. Together they embark on an adventure through the station and Paris. As much as it is a children’s film there is still plenty to engage older viewers from the rich all british cast of character actors and Sacha Baron Cohen as the classic station inspector there really is something for everyone here in the slower moving film that allows everyone to take in the world of steam, cogs and projected images.

At the heart is a love for cinema, in its purest form from the beginning with the Lumiere Brothers first that first scared audiences as a train pulled into a station as a novelty act that scared audiences, lovingly recreated for a modern audience to view, history is brought alive in the perfect cinematic format. Yet it’s when we get to Georges Méliès and the films he made do we really see the director come into his own for this film. Taking us to a time where it was never really thought about documenting the making of early film, only the few remaining films of that era. You can really forgive the modern sensibility of restoration being discussed here, even building on the life of Georges Méliès

I really am kicking myself this time for not seeing this film earlier and in the intended format, for which us usually used to increase box-office takings or as a novelty attraction that really can ruin a film. I don’t really think that Scorsese will make many if any more children’s film, concerned more with adult themes that are the bulk of his body of work, this surely is him at play with one of his passions that works for everyone young and old.  

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3 responses

  1. Good review Tim. It’s not the type of movie I’d expect to see from Scorsese, but he does wonders with it and that’s why it works as well as it does. He’s fully committed, every step of the way.

    July 31, 2014 at 10:10 pm

  2. I liked this movie – yes definite homage to earlier films – and younger days and mores – of innocence and wonder.
    Worth another watch.

    August 1, 2014 at 10:28 pm

  3. Reblogged this on rebloggobbler.

    August 3, 2014 at 9:44 pm

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