Friday, December 20, 2013

Movie Review - Hugo (2011)

It is Paris in the 1930s.  An orphan boy named Hugo lives in a train station, maintaining the large clocks as well as repairing a mechanical man (also known as an atomaton).  This atomaton is all that Hugo's father left him after he died, and Hugo believes it holds an important message.  In order to fix this mechanical man, Hugo steals small parts from George Melies' (Ben Kingsley) toy shop, but cannot find a missing key that activates it.  He meets Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), the goddaughter of the toy shop owner, who helps him solve the mystery.

Shot digitally in 3D, Hugo was created as a love letter to its roots.  There are a plethora of beautiful sweeping shots and special effects, but they serve the purpose of presenting an era forgotten by most of us.  There is a striking contrast when observing the creation of films in the past.  There were large hand painted sets and built costumes, locked off camera angles, and physical film cuts used as special effects.  Hugo reminds us when film just started to tell stories with visual effects and the possibilities were endless.  

Leave it to Martin Scorsese to develop a film totally outside of his normal realm.  Hugo exists not only to entertain, but hopefully to inspire a child's imagination and wonder about the history of film.  The new and the old merge together in this picture, showing that even though technology and methodology changed, the awe people felt in the theater was the same almost a century ago.

Hugo is available for stream on Netflix

Rated PG


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