How do we define a Martin Scorsese film? What comes to mind are gangs, mobs, mafia, Leonardo Di Caprio and a picture of someone getting whacked at. Definitely not the movies you’d like to see with your 8 year olds. But then came his latest film Hugo – his first movie for the family and a grand salute to a great filmmaking pioneer. And he did it in spectacular fashion; an instant classic, a masterpiece!
The story is about an orphan boy named Hugo Cabret (played by Asa Butterfield) who lives in a train station and secretly moonlights as the clock keeper of the station (and survives from stealing left overs and abandon stuffs). Hugo is determined to fix an abandoned mechanical model/robot which we later found out as an ‘automaton’, believing that it has a hidden message from his late father (Jude Law). His father was a clock doctor who also taught Hugo how to repair clocks and other machines, but to make the automaton function again he must pick some pieces from an old man named George Meiles (Ben Kingsley) who runs a toy store inside the station. But one day he was caught and his notebook that contained his father’s studies about the automaton was confiscated. In order to get the notebook back, he enlist the aide of the oldman’s neice, Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz), who also later helped him in unlocking the mystery of the automaton. And so began a great tale of adventure for our young heroes, but little did they know the secret message they are chasing will lead them to the life of one of cinema’s pioneering filmmaker and all the way home.
Just seeing this movie made me believe Martin Scorsese is a real filmmaking genius. The world he created around Hugo is something dreamlike: lavish, dazzling and elegant. Yes, it is set on a French train station but the color scheme, the special effects, and the cinematography used contributed to a magical atmosphere of the place. The colors used are particularly bright and highly saturated making the motion picture a sense of ease and relaxing yet somehow with a trace of golden nostalgia. The special effects are first class from the scenes with the clock-works, the birds eye view of a 1920’s Paris, the train station itself and the train crash. The cinematography and the angles used is nothing but a visual fest. Damn, I can only imagine how great this movie looked in 3D. This is really the kind of film you can’t just talk and describe to other, you have to see it to experience it’s magic.
Though the visual and technical aspect of the film were a real treat (and swept some Oscars last month), it is the characters and the story are what make this film a timeless classic. The performances from the young actors are incredible particularly Asa Butterfield breathing the boy Hugo who was forced to grow up to support himself and who’s eyes sparks that overwhelming determination, and yet at the end of the day this boy is still a pathetic, helpless and lonely lost soul. That’s when Isabelle comes to pick up what Hugo doesn’t have – her resourcefulness and friendship (and bit of romance) which serve as the catalyst of unlocking the mystery. Once again Chloë Grace Moretz proved she’s the best child actress of today by giving Isabelle those qualities and yes, grace. Ben Kingsley plays the toy maker whose previous career was the great filmmaker George Meiles, and he played that character with versatility both as the frail old man trapped in a toybooth and the young visionary of his prime. And another interesting character is the menacing Train Inspector played by Sacha Baron-Cohen who’se had the spotlight in those funny and awkward scenes and yet plays with the audience to hate a character who’se not particularly a bad guy but someone who is just doing his job (and loves him on the end).
But the story is the real meat of this story. The script is powerful tha encompasses an adventure in Hugo’s perspective and a biographical account of the life visionary filmmaker George Mieles, one of the first to realize that films have the power to capture dreams. The film gives flashback scenes of Mieles’ glory days on how he become a filmmaker from a prominent magician, giving the audience a rare chance to experience how movies from those era are made, CGI-free yet still capture the vision we thought only exist in our dreams. The other prominent element in the story is about fixing things. This movie is not your average family movie, this one digs deeps into our souls touching those inner desires for redemption and healing of things broken in our lives. Here are given an immense thought about our purpose in life, our roles in which we are playing in Life. And Hugo tells us all that maybe our purpose in life is to give others the chance to fix the lives of others and capture their dreams.
Note: All the picture are taken from RottenTomatoes.com. Here’s a link for more infos: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/hugo/