Big Screen Peter: Hugo (3D)

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 121 views 

In 2007, Brian Selznick published The Invention of Hugo Cabret. The illustrated novel tells the story of a young orphan boy (Cabret) that lives in the walls of the Montparnasse train station in the 14th arrondissement of Paris.

While the main thrust of the novel — and thus the movie — is about Hugo, the larger framework is rooted in the history of Georges Méliès, a pioneer of early cinema whose genius was nearly swept away by time.

However, with the 3D film adaption titled Hugo, director Martin Scorsese pays loving tribute to both Méliès and Selznick. It’s his doting paean to the wonderment of both childhood and cinema.

Orphaned and alone, Hugo passes his days alone in Gare du Montparnasse ensuring that the numerous clocks are functioning properly. Like a film director, he’s a voyeur. He watches the enclosed world of the station unfold each day as he goes about his work.

And Scorsese handles this world with easy charm. We float through the world of the station, glimpsing the countless sub-stories and intricacies of the various characters that populate the self-sustaining world.

This is Scorsese at work though, not the 3D technology. Apart from the breathtaking opening sequence, there is no full-scale testament to the power of 3D. The rest of the movie is a smattering of tricks and sight gags, none of which are worth the nuisance of the glasses or the irritation it gives the eyes.

The power of the movie isn’t in the technology though. It’s the story. And there’s nothing quite as powerful as the heartrending plight of an orphan or otherwise downtrodden child. Hell, Dickens had himself a cottage industry almost solely based on the natural sentiment audiences have for beset kids (it didn’t hurt that he knew his way around the English language, but you catch the drift).

It’s nice to see the power Scorsese can wield as a director for a film that is inherently good. There is no cynicism, no jaded eye on society. Instead, Hugo speaks to the possibilities within everyone in this world. Even the token antagonist is redeemable.

The movie, though slow to begin, is an illustration of the gratitude Scorsese feels for cinema. The magic of the early movies pops off the screen, even without the 3D tricks.

As we get to know the disgruntled Papa Georges and the truth behind his toy store, it’s evident the great director has hit his stride. A story of a lonely boy becomes a simultaneous story of lost purpose and broken spirits. It’s about the repair it takes to fix a broken existence, to become whole through the shared experience of human contact.

This thematic drive gives Hugo its staying power. The end result is a special, heart-warming picture certain to leave audiences with moist eyes by the final turn.

Hugo is not now playing in the Fort Smith area, but is playing at theaters in Fayetteville and Rogers.

HUGO is for fans of Slumdog Millionaire, Despicable Me, Harry Potter, All Dogs Go to Heaven, The Secret Garden, The Golden Compass

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