Book to Film: My Thoughts on Martin Scorcese’s “Hugo”

Oh hey again! Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving, replete with family, food, and a lack of getting trampled beneath the feet of Black Friday shoppers. I, for one, will say I had an excellent Thanksgiving weekend. I got to see Hugo.

If you’re up on your YA and children’s lit, you know Hugo is the beautiful amalgam of graphic novel and silent movie The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by writer / illustrator Brian Selznick about the titular orphan living in a Parisian train station, winding the station’s clocks while stealing gears from a toy stand so he can fix the gleaming automaton he keeps as bearer of the last message from, and legacy of, his father. This sounds like the setup or a steampunk take on Dickens, but in the book, and in the film, the story evolves into much, much more.

I won’t compare the book to the film, since the book’s been out for years and fans on either side of the divide are usually impossible to convince, but I will say that Hugo was an amazing experience for me.

First, Hugo is just plain beautiful. From the cinematography to score to art direction to 3D (the best use of the medium I’ve seen since James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar), director Martin Scorcese transforms this story from as dazzling page-turner to a gleaming clockwork treasure. And better still, in my opinion, is John Logan’s fanastic script, which gives the entire family not only an intensely moving love letter to early film history, but a story that courageously falls outside the familiar themes of friendship and good prevailing over sinister forces. Don’t mistake me—those messages are intact here—but they take a back seat to a more intricate, nuanced, and touching realization: that the world can break us, and as fellows in the human condition, it is our calling to fix each other the best way we know how.

I have a slight suspicion that Hugo could be easily forgotten amongst the glut of quality cinema coming out in November and December, like The Muppets, War Horse, The Descendants, The Adventures of Tin-Tin, and The Artist. It should not be. So if you haven’t seen Hugo yet, go yesterday, and share like you would an amazing holiday gift…with everyone.

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