Netflix52: Hugo

Hugo220px-Hugo_Poster (PG)

Genre : Adventure, Drama, Family, Mystery
Tagline :  One of the most legendary directors of our time takes you on an extraordinary adventure.
Starring : Asa Butterfiled, Chloe Moretz, Ben Kingsley
Running Time : 128 minutes
Director : Martin Scorsese
Producer : Graham King, Timothy Headington, Martin Scorsese, Johnny Depp

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.

“‘Hugo’ celebrates the birth of the cinema and dramatizes Scorsese’s personal pet cause, the preservation of old films.” I think this quote by Roger Ebert sums up the beauty of this movie.  Martin Scorsese has been a big name in movie making since the early seventies but this film is a very different experience from what he has done in the past.  This is Scorsese’s first 3D film and he uses the medium perfectly. After a screening James Cameron told Scorsese that the movie was a masterpiece and it was the best use of 3D that he had seen, including his own movies. This is not a children’s film made to be 3D, this is a 3D film that is aimed at children.

While this film is based on a children’s book I would not say that this is a film only children can enjoy.  The fantasy and grandness of this film is enough to keep someone of any age involved in the story.  While the story can sometimes seem predictable and it all wraps up in a very happy ending, there are plenty of exciting plot points that you won’t see coming.  The cast is made up of some amazing names but there are a few new names that compliment this all-star cast very well.  The acting is very good and even wonderful at times.

Hugo is the story of a boy who spends his days, in a train station, winding clocks and stealing parts for his automaton.  After his father dies and his uncle disappears Hugo winds the clocks in secret and hides from the station inspector so that no one will know that he has been orphaned.  When he meets Isabelle, a young girl eager for an adventure, he shows her the inoperable automaton left to him by his father and asks for her help in making it work again.  The rest is a story of adventure, intrigue, the birth of special effects in cinema, and the importance of friendship and family.

I would recommend this film solely for the cinematography.  This is a beautiful film.  I believe the story could be about three cats sitting in grass and it would still be worth it.  If you want to see some great acting, an enjoyable story about the importance of films and their preservation, and a award winning example of how visually beautiful a film can be then this is a wonderful way to accomplish that goal.

Distributed : Paramount Pictures (Worldwide), Entertainment Film Distributors (UK)
Released :
November 23,2011
Budget :
$150-170 Million
Box Office :
$185,770,160 Million
Tomatometer :
94% Critic, 79% Audience

Favorite Scene : The cinematography in this movie is incredible and there is a scene where papers are flying all over the room.  I love the way the images on the pages show and float away.
Favorite Quote : “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. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too.”
Awards : On over 24 Top Ten Lists for 2011 including Roger Ebert from the Chicago Sun-Times, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Rolling Stone; Nominated for over 110 Awards winning 27 including the Oscars for Cinematography, Art Direction, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing; the BAFTA for Best Sound and Production Design; the Golden Globe for Best Director; National Board of Review for Best Film and Director; and more.

Fun Facts :

  1. This is Martin Scorsese’s first feature film in 12 years not starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
  2. Martin’s first PG rated film in 18 years.
  3. There is only one opening credit, the film’s title, which does not appear until nearly 15 minutes into the film.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. The driving force behind the film was Martin Scorsese’s young daughter Francesca Scorsese who presented him a copy of the Brian Selznick book as a birthday gift hoping that he would make a film out of it someday.
  7. Ben Kingsley based his characterization of Georges Méliès on Martin Scorsese.
  8. In flashbacks we see Georges Méliès staging his productions with lavishly colored sets and costumes. The real Méliès only used sets, costumes and make-up in grayscale, since colored elements might turn out the wrong shade of gray on black and white film. Many of the prints were then hand tinted in post-production.
  9. Ben Kingsley’s son, Edmund Kingsley, appears in a flashback with his father as a camera operator.
  10. The design for the automaton was inspired by one made by the Swiss watchmaker Henri Maillardet, which Selznick had seen in the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia,[13] as well as the Jaquet-Droz automaton “the writer.”
  11. Hugo was selected for the Royal Film Performance 2011 with a screening at the Odeon, Leicester Square in London on 28 November 2011 in the presence of TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall in support of the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund.
  12. The overall backstory and primary features of Georges Méliès’ life as depicted in the film are largely accurate: he became interested in film after seeing a demonstration of the Lumière brothers‘ camera,[12] he was a magician and toymaker, he experimented with automata, he owned a theatre (Theatre Robert-Houdin), he was forced into bankruptcy, his film stock was reportedly melted down for its cellulose, he became a toy salesman at the Montparnasse station, and he was eventually awarded the Légion d’honneur medal after a period of terrible neglect. Many of the early silent films shown in the movie are Méliès’s actual works, such as Le voyage dans la lune (1902).
  13. SPOILER ALERT******In Hugo’s dream the images of the train crash are based on the Gare Montparnasse accident of 1895
  14. SPOILER ALERT******The iconic image the automaton draws is from the film Voyage to the Moon by the film pioneer Georges Méliès
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