Sunday, March 31, 2013


Hugo (2011) - dir. Martin Scorsese

So it begins again! After a month of WorldMUN madness I am back into the enjoyable and time consuming art that is cinema. And what better film to welcome me back than Martin Scorsese's opus Hugo.

Some awards seasons see two similarly themed (or symbolically opposed) films enter the ring to battle out for Oscar glory. 2007 saw Texan themed heavyweights There Will Be Blood and  No Country for Old Men. 2010 was notable (for some of us at least) of the Academy awarding what to me represented the safe bet traditional period film The King's Speech rather than the bold and forward thinking The Social Network. However last year the 84th Academy Awards was auspicious for the face off between two film's about films, The Artist and  Hugo, for which Hugo is sure to inspire generations to come.

Hugo, based upon Brian Selznick's transcendent novel, is a fantastical testament to the world of cinema, brought to life through the loving direction of Martin Scorsese. The story is one of whimsy and child-like fantasy. Hugo Cabret is an orphaned boy living within the walls of Paris' Gare Montparnasse train station. His father died tragically, leaving behind an automaton (automated man) which Hugo make's his mission to repair. Hugo is a determined young man, and much like the clever antics of Oliver Twist, lives a life repairing the station's many clocks, stealing parts and croissants and escaping to the movies.

This being said, the film blossoms from the standard child escape fantasy film into the modern classic I revere it as today with the inclusion of Georges Méliès, and the brevity of an epoch in cinema with which that names brings. Silent film is like a forgotten era, one filled with treasures of a long gone past yet the beuaty of which remains immortalized on the silver screen. From the classic Howard Lloyd's Safety Last, to the infamous Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, the very beginnings of cinema are homaged to the delight of cinephiles such as myself. However the central plot focus on the work, nay, art, of Méliès evokes the most beautiful sentiments any of us can hold for cinema. Le Royaume des féesVoyage à travers l'impossible are all featured, as is his magnum opus Le Voyage dans la lune. To say Méliès was a visionary is an understatement. The film accurately documents his life, from magician to filmmaker, and through these vignettes we are shown the truly magical side of cinema as art. "It was like seeing a dream in the middle of the day" remarks Hugo, and speaking as one who was equally inspired by Méliès work I was almost brought to tears by this film's caring tribute.

Scorsese was the only man who could have brought this film into being in such a spectacular way. With a central theme being nostalgia, Méliès being shown as broke with his days of cinematic grandeur long forgotten after the pessimism of war and poverty, Scorsese brings to life the world of his idol with gestures of grandeur. The preservation of old films has long been his pet cause. In fact there was one heartbreaking scene in which we learn that Melies, was forced to melt down countless films so that their celluloid could be used to manufacture the heels of women's shoes. However art is never truly forgotten, and his triumphant work lives on due to the courageous actions of this young boy Hugo, to go on inspiriting the dreams of film makers and audiences alike.

This film evoked the sheer passion and joy for this medium that other films such as Cinema Paradiso and even Be Kind Rewind have kindled in the past. Sp it will come as no surprise that close to me will have heard of my disdain for The Artist and it's slew of award wins. For The Artist, silent film is almost treated as kitsch, or as one film reviewer noted "how silent films would be homaged in the 1940s". It was with Hugo that I felt vindicated in my love for cinema. It was with Hugo that film's first class and first auteur can live on in the hearts of a new generation. And it was this film that I learned was the last my dear father ever watched before his passing. Like him, this is a film that will not be forgotten. 9.5/10


Post a Comment