Last week I watched Silver Linings Playbook for the first time. This week I’m going to see another film that was at the Oscars a year before I believe. That film is Hugo. As mentioned in my post last week, before I watch a movie I haven’t see before on Netflix, I’ll talk about what my expectations are and what I know about the movie. For Hugo, I really have no idea what I’m about to see.
I do know this is directed by Martin Scorsese. That’s ninety percent of the reason I’m going to watch it. To be honest, when it came out, and even now this movie never really interested me. Since it came out, I’ve heard pretty good things about it. But nothing in terms of what it’s about, or maybe I did and I just forgot. From clips and photos I’ve seen, I’m pretty sure that there’s a large clock featured somewhat prominently, although that seems random and probably not very accurate. And I’m pretty sure it has that kid from Ender’s Game, “Asa Butter something”. I’m not even going to IMDb him or the movie yet until after I see it so I can create a true glimpse of the before and after. Since I really have nothing more to say about Hugo, I will now watch it and come back to this same post to share my thoughts.
Wow. I had no idea Hugo was going that good. I don’t even know where to start. For one, it was completely different than I expected. In terms of the visuals, they lived up to my expectations which were raised because how the trailers made it look. The plot also turned into something that I did not see coming at all. It was about movies and filmmakers! After watching it, I found out how accurate this movie was in depicting the life of the director, Georges Melies.
I know only a little bit about the beginning of film. I’ve heard of the Lumiere Brothers and their motion picture of a train entering the station and the audience worrying that there was an actual train coming towards them. That’s laughable now, but image the awe those people must have been in experiencing the magic of film for the very first time. The character of Melies, played by Ben Kingsley, became fascinated by this and became a filmmaker himself. Being a magician, he used film to perform magic tricks. This was the birth of special effects. It was as simple as slicing a film strip together to look like an explosion was actually filmed. I recently watched a series of tv documentaries on Netflix about the very first films and their influence. Many of the parts of old films shown in Hugo were also a part of that documentary like Buster Keaton climbing a building and the group of women exiting from a building. It was amazing to see that, but from the aspect of someone living in the 1930’s.
Martin Scorsese is one of the best directors working today. He has been around for quite a while now and has made great films. This is because he adores film. You can tell from everything in the movie that making this was very personal to. In the usual Scorsese film you don’t see a lot of that love for film he has. Clearly you recognize his craft and influences, but not one of his movies compares to Hugo in demonstrating the art of film. Hugo Cabret is Scorsese, I believe. Hugo is enchanted by film, specifically the technical aspects of making one. His admiration for it is so well portrayed that it’s wonderfully obvious that Scorsese is describing his own love for it.
Scorsese is also a big advocate of using and preserving actual, 35mm film. There is a message in the movie about how celluloid film should be preserved. He does this by using the metaphor of time. Time has not been kind to film. In a world of nearly all digitally made movies, film is becoming irrelevant. Hugo demonstrates the art of film and why it is a medium that should not only be remembered, but cherished as well.
I knew clocks would be important in this. Within the first minute I was patting myself on the back, until I saw the poster and realized that it had Hugo hanging from a clock. That was a pretty obvious guess. I still love how they used time in this movie. I mentioned before about how it was used to talk about film preservation. It also connected really well to the story of Melies. Over time he became obscure and bankrupt. He had to sell his film so that it could be made into heels. Time had changed this whole man’s life. You are forced to look at time in the history of film, and also in your own life.
I felt a Wes Anderson vibe during parts of this movie. It was very whimsical and had that same kind of feeling. It wasn’t like that throughout, but it was there. I also saw a lot of Amelié. Obviously the French feel was there, and little romantic subplots with the patrons of the station reminded me of it. Just something I noticed.
Seeing Playbook last week, I regretted not seeing it when it was released. I regret waiting this long to see Hugo even more. Made for 3D, it would have been astonishing to see it like that on a big screen. The brilliant CGI animation looked incredible paired with the cinematography by Robert Richardson. It had 11 Oscar nominations too, what was I thinking? I’ve seen it now though, and I’m so glad I did.
I really loved watching this movie. It makes the love of film so accessible and entertaining while also being historically significant. I’ve always thought the 2011 movies were week in respect to the Oscars. I haven’t seen The Artist yet, but Hugo definitely seems like a good pick for best picture to me.