That fact that Hugo is directed by none other than Martin Scorsese was probably the first sign that it wouldn’t be just your average family film. In fact, the film turns out to be a celebration of the history of early cinema, most notably the work of Georges Méliès, played in the film by Ben Kingsley.
For those of you who don’t know, Méliès was magician-turned-filmmaker, who helped films progress from being more than just sideshow attractions. He helped pioneer using film editing to create simple special effects. His best-known work is the 1902 film A Trip to the Moon, which is known for the image of a rocket crashing into the eye of the man in the moon.
This film depicts Méliès at a time when he has mostly been forgotten and is working as a toy-maker in a Paris train station. It is here where he encounters a young orphan named Hugo (Asa Butterfield), who lives in the train station. Hugo has been trying to fix an Automaton, which was located by his deceased father (Jude Law) and he has been stealing parts from Méliès shop to help reassemble it. Hugo begins an uneasy relationship with Méliès and befriends his goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz). Together Hugo and Isabelle work to solve the mystery of the Automaton, while avoiding the nosy station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen).
I thought that Hugo was an excellent film that combined a family-oriented fantasy/adventure with a biography of early cinema. As someone who took a film history class as part of my film studies degree, I was totally enthralled by this section of the film, especially since I’ve actually seen many of the classic silent films depicted.
I also have to say that the film has one of the best uses of 3D I have seen in a long time. I’ve seen so many films since Avatar that were just 3D for the sake of being 3D. I’m glad that Scorsese took special care at making a 3D film that had both a great sense of depth, as well as a few humourous pop-out moments (many involving a dog).
In conclusion, Hugo will definitely end up on the list of my favourite films of the year.