Martin Scorsese’s Hugo is truly an enchanting cinematic experience. It may appear to be a fun children’s film, but there is too much depth and art to this film to simply be a “children’s film.”
Set in 1930’s Paris, the story revolves around an orphan, Hugo, who lives in the walls of a train station and is in charge of up-keeping the station’s clock. Before living in the train station, he learned his mechanical skills from his father (Jude Law) who was a master clock-maker. Tragically, Hugo’s father dad died in a museum fire, leaving him to his alcoholic uncle who lived in the train station. The only thing Hugo has left of his father is a half-fixed automaton, which he disparately tries to make work again.
The plot kicks in to high gear when Hugo gets caught stealing a wind up toy (pieces for the automaton) from a toy-shop proprietor. The owner, Monsieur Georges, makes Hugo work for him, in return, he will not turn him in to the authorities. While working for him, Hugo, and Monsieur Georges’ adopted daughter, Isabelle, become friends. Together, they bring to life the automaton and uncover the hidden past of Monsieur Georges. (SPOILER ALERT) He is the great Georges Melies; director, actor, and magician.
With this discovery, the film takes a great turn. One that film enthusiast will love. It takes you on a trip into cinematic history; taking a look back at the roots of film. It really opens up your eyes to see how far film has come since its beginnings. I think it is no coincidence that this film is in 3D or why Scorsese decided to make this film his first film in 3D (even though, Scorsese says it was his daughter’s influence). It is not a meaningless gimmick, it adds depth to the film and becomes integral in telling his story. It is a story wrapped up in innovation, film preservation, and the act of evoking emotions.
In the film, they talk about the Lumiere Brothers’ film, Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (1895). When they first screened this film, the audience shrieked and ducked when the train pulled into the station. We might not understand this today, especially when looking back at this film but, this was a completely new experience for audiences. Scorsese was able to reformat the Lumiere Brothers’ film in 3D for Hugo. So today’s audience could experience the same emotions of those back in 1895, making it seems like the train is barreling through the screen into the audience with the new innovation of 3D. Really spectacular.
If you love cinema, you will love this film. It is both artistic and thoughtful!