It is 1931
INT. TRAIN STATION — TUNNELS – DAY
Hugo’s secret world. He moves quickly up and down spiral staircases … ducking through tiny openings … swerving in and out of dark passages … up and down, back and forth… Like an elaborate game of Chutes and Ladders. He finally stops. Peers through another clock dial into a different part of the station.
He sees… A TOY BOOTH.
Once in years a film comes and pay homage to early filmmakers. Martin Scorsese who has made this film. This film narrates a story of French Film Master whose name was dusted and went into history during WW I and WWII. It is George Mellise. The man who inspired the generations of filmmakers to create special effects and to explore the potential of cinema.
Hugo is based upon a book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, 2007, by Brian Selznick. It is a half graphic half prose novel. Brian more an illustrator than a writer. He is much passionate about the literature and stories. It is the reality what we see in film. Georges Melies’s films were destroyed to create soles for shoes. George Melies was so disturved that he burned most of his films. Around 1924 a journalist who was writing a book on Film Hostory Georges-Michel Coissac found him in a toy shop. He was pleased and shocked to meet Melies and recorded his interview. Soon the other journalists jumped to Melies but Melies then never made any films. Melies then talked about making films to everyone who met and continued his passion for cinema till his last moment.
Georges-Michel Coissac a journalist found him back and wrote a book on cinema
Hugo Cabret an orphan child who limits his life to the watch clock. His uncle is in charge of the clocks at a Gare Montparnasse railway station in Paris. Hugo possess some designs, and a mechanical half complete device as a last memoir of his father. It is his only property. The fading memory of childhood and empty stomach makes him snatch the food from the different stalls around the station.
Far from the fairytale his life is limited to the maze of ladders, catwalks, passages and gears of the clockworks. He secretly follows the routine to keep the clocks on correct time as finds pride into it. We follow the child and how this child enters into the life of Georges Melies.
I find it as a best example of story inside a story. We start with the story of Hugo, then we are smitten by the curious person Geroge Melies and then at the end we find yet another story of the birth of French Cinema. This film leaves a lasting impression of legendary film maker George Melies and his unsung legacy. The other sub plots and sub character who find their thread of life. I took it as a semiotics of French Cinema.
Truly a master piece which goes beyond a documentary and pays tributes to George Melies into his own way. Director Martin Scorsese who is one of the senior director who has made films from more than last 50 years. He often express his passion for film making and help budding film makers. The story of Hugo somewhere reflect Martin Scorsese. There is a same thread among George Melies and rest of the passionate film directors who always experiment and evolve with Cinema.
This film can be enjoyed as a journey of George Melies who started special effects into filmmaking, Brian Selznick whose efforts goes beyond the graphic novel and Martin Scorsese who developed cinema as a form transcends audience into 1930s George Melies. Today this film is like a fairytale, takes us beyond the conventional storytelling with Geroge Melies, cinematic aesthetics and the story of a small boy Hugo.