The film Hugo transported me 15some years back–back in my very first Film Art class in college with heart-jolting snapshots of the Lumiere brothers’ Workers Leaving a Factory and Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (A Train Arrives in the Station), Edwin Porter’s The Great Train Robbery, D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance, Douglas Fairbanks’ The Thief of Bagdad, German filmmaker Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and of course, Fairlyland and A Trip to the Moon by French filmmaker and illusionist, George Melies–one of the central characters in the movie–among many others that I cannot name but vaguely recognize.
Melies, one of the trailblazers in movie special effects, was portrayed by Ben Kingsley. No one could’ve played the role better. The film unrolls the story of how one boy’s tenacity to fix an automaton, a tangible reminder of his father’s presence, paved the way for the rightful recognition of one forgotten filmmaker’s contributions to the world of entertainment and dreams.
I had no idea what Hugo was all about except that it’s about a boy who lived in the walls of a rail station. An ex-girlfriend reintroduced me to my love of cinema when we’d watch movies online together. One of her annual traditions is to watch Oscar-nominated films. Hugo was this year’s runaway with quite a number of nominations and awards. I skipped it at first because I had the impression that it was just another Polar Express not that it wasn’t a good movie.
Needless to say, I loved it. It swerved me into one of the greatest Martin Scorsese’s films of all time. Not one of his trademark storylines or styles but obviously one created and crafted for the love of cinema. It slightly resembles Tim Burton’s treatments, one that Johnny Depp must have seen, which is why he co-produced it. It pays homage to the glorious but humble beginnings of the industry, one that could get buried in oblivion if none is done. There are undertones of a plea to preserve and a warning that all could indeed be lost. Truly, Scorsese has outdone himself with this. His passion for moviemaking is not only very clear in Hugo, it laced every frame of the film.
Written by John Logan basing on the book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, this poignant yet pragmatic movie is a must-watch for film lovers and passive viewers alike. It subtly gives everyone a sneak peek of the golden path of cinema and encourages us to be more appreciative of the lunar milestones that the industry has achieved through the years. Hugo could very well go down in history as one of the greatest films ever made.