Last year I began my year-long study of Charlie Chaplin by reading aloud to my fourth grade class Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret. I wasn’t sure what it would be like reading aloud a story that depended on so many pages of pure art, but it worked out beautifully.
I wondered even more how Martin Scorsese would manage to pay honor to such a special sort of storytelling and last night I got my answer. Scholastic most kindly invited me to a screening and I can assure you: Hugo is absolutely lovely. Fans of the book (like me) have nothing to be worried about — Scorsese and the others involved have embraced the theme, the feeling, the delight of the book in a cinematic way that compliments the story in the most wonderful way.
There is much to consider about the movie, say the way it celebrates film, early film, those works of George Méliès in particular. But it also beautifully brings out themes of connecting as people, of fixing (clockworks, toys, automatons, people), as well as the pleasures of a certain time and place. In fact, for all the remarkable imagery (3D at times), there is something quite old-fashioned about the movie. I loved the way Scorsese managed to translate some of the dramatic and exciting series of drawings in the book into film; each is its own thing, but both provide similar emotional drama. What struck me as from an older time cinematically (say the time the movie is set — 1930s) were the quieter moments — especially the lovely ones showing loving relationships: new and old — the more I think about it, the more I love those as I think they ask viewers, especially children, so used to speedy story telling, to slow down a bit, here and there.
An absolute delight. A beauty. Go.