Oh, my, what visual splendor. A treat for the Holidays. Hugo is a film about the importance of purpose. This movie is a 3D homage to the early days of filmmaking and the genius of French film maker Georges Melies played superbly by Ben Kingsley. Melies, who deals in antiques, has lost his sense of purpose which is restored by Hugo, a twelve-year-old boy. It is an adventure into the world of awe, magic and dreams.
Filming in 3D gave Scorcese the opportunity to be 'in' the film with the characters and the story. "The fashion is to say 3D is a gimmick when it is not." Scorcese says. Based on the 2007 children's book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick with a screenplay by John Logan, this is a departure for Scorcese, a man fascinated with the darker sides of characters and what makes criminals run. Though a trifle slow in the beginning, Hugo turns into a breath of the finest French air. Set in Paris during the 1930s, this is a tender, compelling tale of a little boy who could be Oliver Twist, but whose life has a happy ending. (Which by the way the movie says only happens in films.) Here you have no shoot em ups, no bang bang your dead, no ya talkin' to me kid kinda dialogue. Kindness, warmth and love are what this film is about. Love for humanity. The only violence is the snarl of a mean Doberman and the obsessive need for a sad pitiful train station inspector played with wit and sensitivity by Sacha Baron Cohen. Cohen has lost a leg in the war and feels it is his duty to put Hugo into an orphanage. In the end even disparate dogs are able to relate and to be friends.
Hugo's (Asa Butterfield) father repairs clocks. Hugo's father (Jude Law) dies early in the film and leaves Hugo an orphan who learns to live inside the walls of a train station alone. Well he is not quite alone. He is surrounded by clocks and mechanical devices. One in particular is an automaton. This automaton or robot needs a key to make it work. This key is presented to Hugo through serendipity. Magic if you will. Hugo believes the robot has a message for him from his dead father. "I thought if I could fix it," Hugo says," I wouldn't be so alone.'
An enchanting Hugo meets a charming young girl Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moritz) of the same age who seeks adventure. Her life revolves around books. "Why are up helping me?" Hugo asks.
"Because it's an adventure and I"ve never had one outside of books."
Isabelle wants to protect Hugo, and takes him to her favorite book shop in the train station. The owner of this shop Monseiur Labisse (played with deft economy by Christopher Lee) introduces her to books on film and together with Hugo they devour a book about film from 1920.
Hugo sees a key on a chain hanging around Isabelle's neck. He asks her for the key and sure enough, it is the missing force, the magic, needed to bring life to his automaton.
A bitter Milies who had been a magician and Hugo become friends due to Isabelle.
She takes Hugo to Hugo's first movie. They experience awe, sheer awe . In the 30s the audience thought the train would come out of the screen into the audience.
"My father took me to movies and movies were a special place. I didn't miss my Mom so much." Isbelle tells Hugo.
Soon Isabella and Hugo discover that Milies was a famous filmmaker who destroyed his own films. He needed money as the war had taken away the interest of his audience in dreams and the magic of movies. His celluloid film was sold to make shoes so the Miles could eat.
"If you ever wondered where your dreams come from,"Milies tells a young Hugo," Just look around you. This is where they are made."
This film is about how dreams and magic give us images to record. Aside from directing, preservation of film is Marty Scorcese's raison d'etre.
His masterful manipulation of images and story telling herald his well deserved respect in the movie industry. Bravo Martin Scorcese who doesn't need violence to be interesting