Friday, March 2, 2012

Hugo (2011)



“I'd imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn't be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason.” 

            Since Hugo came out I have been reading more about Martin Scorsese. Sure the guy has been around for a long time but now with Hugo out Scorsese has been getting more attention than he usually does. And I am paying more attention to him now since I really like movies. I admire the man for his love of cinema and film history. My brother saw Hugo in the movies when it was released and since then he has been saying how incredible the movie was. He bought it last week and from beginning to end I adored the movie. When the movie was over I was so happy to have seen such love and care go into making a film about a man who was so much a part of film history.
            Hugo Cabret lives in the French train station Montparnasse. He fixes the station’s clocks and makes sure they run on time. He did not always live there. His father died in a fire in the museum he worked at and his mother had died when he was much younger. He was sent to live with his uncle in the train station where the uncle worked as the clock fixer. Before living with his uncle, Hugo’s father used to have a clock shop. One day he found an automaton in the museum and the two spent evenings trying to make the automaton work. Hugo still works on the automaton by stealing parts from a toy shop in the station.
            One day Hugo goes to steal some parts from a windup when he sees the owner has fallen asleep. The man (Ben Kingsley) catches Hugo before he can snatch the toy and run away. The man tells Hugo to empty his pockets and one of the things in his pocket his is father’s notebook with drawings of the automaton. The man has a look of shock on his face and asks where he found the robot. Hugo tells him and the man says that he is to work off stealing by working for him in the shop.
            Hugo sees that the man knows a young girl and thinks she is his daughter. He meets the girl named Isabelle (Chloe Grace Mortez). Isabelle tells him that she is not the man’s daughter but she calls him Papa Georges. Hugo asks her to get his notebook back for him but she cannot Georges has put it somewhere she cannot find it and also that it caused Georges and his wife Jean a great deal of stress.
            Hugo begins to trust Isabelle since she is very nice to him. He sees that she has a key with the end of it in the shape of a heart. The automaton has a keyhole in that shape. He wound the automaton once but it did not work because he did not have the key. He brings Isabelle to his living quarters to see try the key. It works and the automaton begins to write something. It stops but when it starts again and finishes it has drawn a picture of the moon with a rocket in its eye and the signature of Georges Méliès in the corner.
            The picture is the beginning of marvelous things and heartbreaking memories.
            As I said at the beginning I loved Hugo. The story is so interesting the way it unfolds. I really liked how the story used Georges Melies who if you do not know was one of the French pioneers of filmmaking in the early 1900s. He used camera tricks to bring to life wonderful stories. His most famous film is Le Voyage dans la Lune (Voyage to the Moon).  Everyone has seen the part of Le Voyage when the rocket hits the moon in the eye it is one of the most famous film clips ever. Melies’s films were rediscovered in 1931 and his reputation restored to glory.
            The story comes from a book entitled The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (Yes, he is related to David O). Selznick wrote such an entertaining and heartfelt story. You can tell he cares for his subject which was perfect for Scorsese to make a movie out of because he has a great passion for film and its history.
            The blue and gold tones in the film are fantastic. If I had to assign a color or colors to Paris it would be blue and gold: blue because it is a city and I think of cities as cold places and gold because it is the City of Light.
            The time period that Méliès was rediscovered could not have been more perfect. Paris in the 1920s and 1930s is so interesting to learn about and the city was never more alive and flowing than in these times.
            Hugo is nothing short of a masterpiece. It is entertaining and beautiful from the moment it starts. I had a wonderful time seeing and hearing old film references as well as art references to the surrealists with their magazine Vu. The cast is large and incredibly well put together everyone is wonderful in their parts. Hugo is in line with films like The Artist and Midnight in Paris that keeps my faith in Hollywood producing high class and truly original films.
            In an interview, Scorsese comments on why it is important to look to classic films to absolute perfection:
“I’m often asked by younger filmmakers, why do I need to look at old movies; I’ve made a number of pictures in the past twenty years. And the response I find that I have to give them is that I still consider myself a student. The more pictures I’ve made in the past twenty years the more I realize I really don’t know. And I’m always looking for something to, something or someone that I could learn from. I tell them, I tell the younger filmmakers and the young students that I do it like painters used to do, or painters do: study the old masters, enrich your palette, expand your canvas. There’s always so much more to learn.”
           
            As a classic film admirer and a lover of the art of filmmaking I am so happy and grateful for directors like Martin Scorsese and Michel Hazanavicious for making quality films and shedding light on film history for younger generations to see and hopefully become interested in.