Martin Scorsese’s latest wonder is a film about films. Told through a wonderful Dickensian story of a boy who lives in a Paris train station, Scorsese paints an image of early cinema and guides audiences through the work of Georges Méliès, the French pioneer of cinema. With a charming story that blends fact and fable, Scorsese’s Hugo is a fascinating film that audiences from children to long-time cinema fans will enjoy.
Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is a young boy living in Paris with his father (Jude Law). Like his father, he enjoys fixing things, and him and his father are working on repairing an automaton robot that can apparently write and draw. Unfortunately, his father passes before he can complete the automaton, and Hugo goes to live in the Gare Montparnasse with his uncle who runs the clocks at the station. His uncle also dies, but Hugo continues to live among the clockwork machinery of the station, hiding in the walls and ceilings opposed to be sent to the orphanage by the station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen).
Hugo befriends a young girl named Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) who lives with her godfather. Her godfather is none other than George Méliès himself, played here by Ben Kingsely. Hugo and his father were cinema fans, and Hugo’s father often said that his favourite film was Méliès’ A Journey to the Moon. Isabelle’s godparents forbid her from seeing movies, but together with Hugo she discovers the magic of film and the incredible history of her godfather. The two children help her grandfather rediscover his past as well as revealing his whereabouts to cinema enthusiasts, leading to an award for Méliès’ incredible contribution to the field of film.
The world created by Scorsese, his cinematographer Robert Richardson, and the rest of their team is beautiful. Hugo is stunning on many levels, and the Gare Montparnasse as well as the rest of 1930 Paris is breathtaking. Vivid colours work perfectly to blend this tale of fact and fiction, brining audiences into this dream-like world full of potential and possibilities, much like the early pioneers of cinema felt about their new art form. Trust Scorsese to incorporate references to the Lumière Brothers’ The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station in his first 3-D film, which is ironically also about the pioneer of special effects in movies.
Hugo is a spectacular film in which director Martin Scorsese shows audiences a new side of himself, revealing his sheer adoration for cinema, which has previously only been seen through his documentaries. The history of cinema is intriguingly pursued, and the incorporation of Georges Méliès’ true-life story into this fantasy makes for a superb movie. With a well-formed cast, captivating story and impeccable visuals, Hugo is a true delight.