Hugo is an orphan boy living in the walls of a train station in 1930s Paris. He learned to fix clocks and other gadgets from his father and uncle which he puts to use keeping the train station clocks running. The only thing that he has left that connects him to his dead father is an automaton (mechanical man) that doesn't work without a special key. Hugo needs to find the key to unlock the secret he believes it contains. On his adventures, he meets George Melies, a shopkeeper, who works in the train station, and his adventure-seeking god-daughter. Hugo finds that they have a surprising connection to his father and the automaton, and he discovers it unlocks some memories the old man has buried inside regarding his past. Written by
The guitarist, who appears early in the film and also at the Georges Méliès party near the end, is modeled after famed Belgian guitarist Django Reinhardt. The filmmakers even went so far as to have the actor's left hand match Django's: that is, he doesn't use his fourth and fifth fingers (they were burned in a fire). See more »
Most of the many Georges Méliès excerpts seen in the film were made prior to 1910. Their accompanying piano music is the song "By the Waters of the Minnetonka" by Thurlow Lieurance, first published in 1913. But as these were silent films, and so would not have contained soundtracks, whatever music accompanied a screening of such a film would either be performed live or played from, say, a phonograph. So it is perfectly reasonable for this film to portray a older silent movie being screened with slightly newer music. See more »
Someone compared this movie to a Hans Christian Andersen tale and I think this is about as good a comparison as it gets. Some people find it boring and painful, others are mesmerized and inspired by the story it tells and the way it does so. In short, if you prefer Disney's version of the little mermaid story, you will likely be disappointed by Hugo.
On the other hand, if you like the attention to detail and the not entirely happy endings of Andersen's classic short stories, you will probably find that Hugo is a captivating film that is hard to describe in a few words. It really lives in a lot more than three dimensions.
If you also happen to be a cinema fan, you will love it even more. What is a cinema fan? It's person that appreciates films for more than just their entertainment value. The way movies are made, the different layers of audio, visuals, emotions, symbols, the photography, the standout supporting casts, the way you can predict the cliché moves sometimes, but love it anyway. We love the good movies, like the bad ones, and films like Hugo make our hearts sing.
One last note on the use of 3D. I usually avoid 3D versions of movies because that feature has not yet proved itself to be more than just a gimmick. In Hugo's case, it is still partially true. I watched it in 3D and the opening sequence in the train station as well as a couple other select shots were exceptionally staged for 3D. Aside from that though, you get used to the effect and thankfully, it's the story that stays in the center of attention, followed by beautiful cinematography, characters, and 3D is trailing humbly behind. If you have the opportunity, watch the 3D version, but you will not really love it in 2D any less.
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