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Directed by Martin Scorsese
Produced in 2011
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - American film
A wise and wonderful fantasy that draws inspiration from an unabashed love for the magic of early cinema, Hugo will make you fall in love with cinema all over again, says Milo Wakelin.
Sergei Eisenstein once said, 'to doubt that stereoscopic cinema has its tomorrows, is as naïve as doubting whether there will be tomorrows at all.'
Martin Scorsese's wise, wonderful children's film employs the very the latest 3D technology and special effects, and though they may well represent cinema's future, they are used to evoke the magic of its yesterdays. Based on Brian Selznick's 2007 novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, this is a charming adventure and an intricate mystery, but also a heartfelt love letter to the early days of cinema which reflects Scorsese’s passion for preserving and popularising the work of forgotten filmmakers (in this case, Georges Méliès).
Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan. His father (Jude Law), a watchmaker, perished in a museum fire, leaving behind only the charred automaton he was restoring. Abandoned by his alcoholic uncle (Ray Winstone), Hugo makes his home behind the ornate walls of Paris's Gare Montparnasse train station, trying to ensure the station clock runs on time while staying one step ahead of the dogged station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen). Convinced the automaton contains a message from his father, Hugo steals parts from a toy stall run by a mysterious old gentleman (Ben Kingsley). When he’s finally captured, Hugo is given a chance to solve the puzzle, aided by the gentleman’s goddaughter, Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz).
Scorsese mixes spirited adventure with sweet character-based comedy, and as our young heroes continue their quest, we observe the daily routines of the station's regular inhabitants, including Frances de la Tour and Richard Griffiths as a pair of lovelorn shopkeepers and Emily Mortimer as a shy flowergirl. Younger viewers of a certain temperament may fidget, and Scorsese does take his time before cutting to the chase, but anyone with a curiosity for film history will be well rewarded with a treasure trove of snippets and sequences that recall its earliest days.
Scorsese even stages a spectacular re-enactment of the Lumière brothers’ L'Arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat, which cleverly segues into the famous 1895 derailment of the Granville–Paris Express. It's just one example of the way Scorsese has turned cinematic literacy into seat-of-your-pants entertainment. In many ways, Hugo is a companion piece to The Artist; it’ll make you fall in love with cinema all over again.
Milo Wakelin on 23rd February 2012
Author of 106 reviews
An extravagant, elegant fantasy that draws inspiration from an unabashed love for the magic of early cinema, Martin Scorsese's Hugo is based on the illustrated historical fiction by Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
Asa Butterfield stars as Hugo, an orphan who lives in the hidden nooks of a train station in 1920s Paris. With the help of his friend, Isabelle (Chloe Moretz), he sets out to solve a mystery left behind by his late father (Jude Law): a curious puzzle involving a heart-shaped key, a cranky toy shop owner (Ben Kingsley) and a broken automaton, while constantly having to hide from the threat of being sent to the orphanage by the unrelenting Station Inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen). Along the way, the tangled lives of the staff and passengers at the station provide numerous colourful detours, and Scorsese pays homage to early pioneers of cinema including the Lumiere brothers and Georges Melies.
The cast also features Christopher Lee, Ray Winstone and Emily Mortimer.
Publisher: Entertainment in Video
Length: 126 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 widescreen
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 2nd April 2012
Cat No: EDV9707
- 'The Cinemagician Georges Melies', 'The Mechanical Man at the Heart of Hugo', 'Big Effects, Small Scale', 'Sacha Baron Cohen: Role of a Lifetime'.