It is said that Martin Scorsese’s daughter Francesca presented him a copy of the Brian Selznick book as a birthday gift which became the driving force behind the Academy Award Winner “Hugo”. And Scorsese does a wonderful job. Hugo is not just a story but its a celebration of cinema world over. As he says-
“Movies touch our hearts and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things. They take us to other places, they open doors and minds. Movies are the memories of our lifetime. We need to keep them alive.”
And that is exactly what Hugo does. He tells a tale of childhood adventure, with the earliest days of cinema and film preservation wrapped in a big-screen technology. The movie is an experience. The visual effects, cinematography, art direction everything is just technically superb. A flat story though to capture children’s attention for long but cinematically it is grand. It feels like Hugo is Scorsese’s homage to the history of cinema.
Hugo is set in the Montparnasse station of 1931 France. Hidden within the station’s giant clock is Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield), an orphaned 12-year-old with a talent for fixing things. When Hugo’s not tightening the screws and adjusting the levers of the clock, he’s sneaking his way through the crowded spaces of Montparnasse, stealing food from bakeries and fruit carts. The only thing that his father (Jude Law) left him was the broken automaton that they were determined to rebuild. Holding on to the belief that the machine contains a valuable message from his departed father, Hugo intends to finish the work that he and his dad had started. Dodging the tenacious station inspector (Baron Cohen), Hugo makes his way into the life of grouchy shopkeeper Georges (Ben Kingsley), and has a series of adventures with his goddaughter Isabelle (Moretz). When they learn that Georges is forgotten pioneer filmmaker Georges Melies, they decide to help bring him back in the limelight.
Scorsese recreates the legendary presentation of the Lumiere brothers’ 1897 Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat. As the plot thickens and Melies’s classic silent film A Tip To The Moon (1898) and the image of a rocket ship wedged in the eye of the Man in the Moon plays a large role in the film’s plot. Then movie kaes us to the journey of Melies’s work as a magician, his discovery of moving pictures at the hands of the Lumiere brothers and the construction of his glass-walled movie studio. The richness to detail and care in framing each and every old frame is tremendous. The movie shows resonance and intricacy of the theme of clocks, clockworks, animatronics and our fear. As the movie quotes -” It is like the whole world is a giant machine and we all are parts of that giant machine and everyone has a reason.”
Robert Richardson’s cinematography is quite beautiful, where as everybody’s acting is good. Dante Ferreti’s production design is amazing and Howard Shore’s scores keeps up to the tune. Ben Kingsley deleievers another impressive performance as George. He always makes you believe in the character. The young Asa Butterfield as Hugo gives a truly incredible performance. Sacha Baron Cohen is seffective as Station Inspector but would have been great if that French accent would have donned there.
Scorsese has not only brought a child’s dream to life but have also written a love letter to film-making with Hugo. The movie has a weak storyline and continuity but it makes up with the overall grandeur look and feel. It feels that as the film goes on Scorsese has forgotten the child and has concentrated more on telling the history of Cinema but then he does it through a child’s eye. A grand 3D experience one must say. Scorsese shows he is not just a film maker but he brings dreams alive. Its your time to be that Dream catcher.
Rating- 4 Out of 5