Friday, March 23, 2012


Directed by Martin Scorsese

Asa Butterfield - Hugo Cabret
Chloe Grace Moretz - Isabelle
Ben Kingsley -  Georges Melies

     Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.

     The Oscars have come and gone. The lights and false glamor has faded and the inflated egos of the some have been fed even more. Where does this leave the films that were nominated for different categories?   Well where I live, most are not around here. No big surprise there. Bear with me on what I'm about to say, and think about it before anyone starts to complain to much. What does it say about the movie that won best picture this year, The Artist, where the dog from that film has gotten more press than the actually film. No, keep thinking about it. Okay. Not pretty is it. There were other choices for Best Picture, even though compared to previous years, the 2012 Oscars choices were not really that exciting or, to me worth mentioning most of them save Midnight In Paris and Hugo.

     There was just something about the actors and actresses in this film that fit it so well. Each person was perfectly cast to fill their roles and each showed a love that usually isn't there in most other films. The two main actors, Asa Butterfield as Hugo Cabret and Cloe Grace Moretz as Isabelle are both quite amazing in their roles. Butterfield plays an orphan who has been on his own for over a year living in the walls and ductworks of a train station keeping all the clockworks running ever since his father died. His portrayal of Hugo has  an innocence, but at the same time a adult trickster feel to it after having to fend for himself for so long. Moretz though is the better of the two young leads as she just has a sense of wonderment to her character as Hugo opens her eyes to a wider world than what she knew previously before meeting Hugo. Even with the trouble Hugo gets Isabelle into and a less than pleasant introduction to each other, they form a bond that opens each others view of the world around them. Ben Kingsley who play Georges Melies, though is the true star of the film. Kingsley is both elegant and surly in his role of a old, and I could easily say, broken down store owner. The rest of the cast is filled out by a amazing cast. And Sacha Baron Cohen is actually fully watchable in this film as I must admit most of the things he has done I can't stand. Yet in this, he is fun to watch as a mean, love struck Station Inspector who's luck is far from the best.

     So what is the film, or I should say what is it really about. While on the outside thanks to the trailers, it seems as if the film is only about Hugo and a robot. This is just a simple way to put this story, and doesn't do it justice at all. There's so much more going on as there is a dual story going on at the same time. One is Hugo, with the help of Isabelle, trying to figure out the secret from an automaton that Hugo and his father was working on before his father's death. Hugo's passion to fix and see what mystery lives inside the automaton, which is his last relic from his old life and his one true possession that Hugo can call his own, is what drives only half of the story. It is also with Hugo's side of the story that he shows Isabelle the wonder that is cinema at the time and the excitement and escapism that is present while watching movies. This is also when the second storyline comes into play as it deals with Georges Melies and why he seems so broken, as he seems a shell of a man. I don't want to give away Georges Melies story as when his life starts to intertwine with Hugo's to me the film truly came to life and I was hooked. This is also when the film became more magical as it shows why we love film and the experiences and emotions it can evoke from us.

     The one hit I can put against the film is that the beginning of the film starts out slow and shows to many characters all at one time, yet this is also done to help set up the world that exist around Hugo. There is a bit of wondering off during the first thirty or so minutes, thankfully this also helps establish the world in the train station where most of the story takes place and also to make the station feel like a living entity more than a landmark. After this, the true story and the ride that is this film really starts.  Scorsese is just a master behind the camera as there is always motion in this film whether it be from the clockworks in the train station to the living that occupy the station. Even the background characters played from such respected actors as Christopher Lee, Frances de la Tour, and Richard Griffiths are always in motion and help add to the world of the station. The audio and special effects (specially Hugo's nightmare, now that was creepy) are all above great and just add to what we are seeing before our eyes and hearing. This film is an experience to be had for people that love film. It shows what can be done with film still if the creators are willing to take a chance against the studios expectations (which is why movies are less now than what they were before thanks to the studios). If you, the reader of this love film, truly love film, this is for you and a must watch no matter what. 

     The death of Georges Melies dream during wartime.

     No it's not. It worked perfectly!

     The cam mechanism in the automaton is heavily inspired by the machinery in the Jaquet-Droz automata, built between 1768 and 1774. Indeed these automata are still in working condition (they can be seen at the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire of Neuchâtel, in Switzerland) and are capable of drawing figures as complicated as the drawing depicted in the film. Many nuances such as the head following the pen as it was drawing and dipping the pen in ink were also present in the automata in real life.

     The opening track shot of the city ending at the train station was the very first shot designed and it took one year to complete. It required 1000 computers to render each frame required for the shot.

     The train station depicted is the Gare Montparnasse. In real life Georges Melies did in fact work as a toymaker at that station after World War I. The derailment scene during Hugo's dream is a reference to the famous 1895 derailment at the station.

     This is the first Martin Scorsese feature film to not feature Leonardo DiCaprio in a the starring role in over 12 years.

No comments:

Post a Comment