Jan 152012


In Hugo director Martin Scorsese takes us on an exciting  journey which allows the audience a peek behind the curtains at the magical world of early cinema.

In this adaptation of the novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, we follow young orphaned Hugo who lives in the walls of a Paris train station, tending to the running of the clocks. Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is a vulnerable figure, having first lost his parents and then been abandoned by his drunkard of an uncle . He dreams of fixing an automaton which he watched his father work on, and spends much of his time seeking both parts for the machine and food for his survival in the station.Hugo befriends Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz) who is in the care of the station’s intriguing toy stall owner (played marvellously by Ben Kingsley); and from there an adventure to realise Hugo’s dreams of fixing his beloved automaton begins.

Hugo is both a tradition children’s story about an orphan who is trying to realise his dreams and an education in film history. Although the story is slow to get going, we do learn a lot about the struggles of Hugo’s daily existence, and in turn become attached to him and wish for him to succeed.
Once the film does get going it is something magical. Chases through the station, adventures in cinema, unlocking mysteries, and discovering things long-kept secrets. Hugo contains all the elements of a good adventure

What stands out is Scorses’s obvious absolute passion for his craft and where it comes from. The film contains lovely a lovely homage to the infamous Train Pulling into the station short film, which reportedly wowed audiences in 19th century Paris. The audience is also treated to a behind the scenes look at the labour intensive way that early film was created. For cinephiles and those with a passing interest in film, it is an absolute delight and wonderful experience.


Ben Kinglsey puts in a show-stealing performance as the toy stall owner George Méliès. He speaks volumes through the creases on his face and is just an utter delight to watch. Sasha Baron Cohen also impresses as the slightly odd and love-afflicted station inspector.

Another wonderful thing about this film is the 3D just works. Scorsese uses it to immerse the audience in the word he has created, rather than for ‘in your face’ shock value. From the beautiful snow flakes, to the flickering of a film projector – it just works.

A note for those considering taking young children. While this is certainly a family film, the very youngest children might find certain scenes frightening and the film a tad long (126 minutes).

Overall Hugo is a cinematic delight and a wonderful adventure that is bound to remain a favourite for years to come.


The Facts

Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer(s): John Logan (screenplay), Brian Selznick (book)
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Lee, Sasha Baron Cohen
Runtime: 126 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: January 12th 2012

(Note: this review was originally posted on my tumblr)