Yesterday I went to the cinema to watch Hugo, which was a pre-release as it isn’t out in my country until March the 14th (I know, late right? o_o) I was thoroughly impressed with this movie even though my expectations were high after all those positive reviews and awards as well as it being a Martin Scorsese film.
Something that impressed me the most was the movies’ ability to make ordinary things magical without needing any magic. This surprised me as the trailer made it very much seem like there was “real magic” in the story. Nevertheless, I think it made the story all the more enchanting. For example, I think the train station alone had its own magic with all its life, individual characters, drama and French atmosphere. Then of course the mysterious automaton and its creator played a big role as well by adding magic to the story. Not only was the automaton a great artist, but it also helped Hugo find a way out of orphanhood and loneliness.
I wasn’t aware Georges Méliès being a real-life person until after having watched the movie, which somehow made him seem like a more wondrous character. It’s incredible how the author of the original novel, Brian Selznick, managed to take the life of a real-life movie director and magician and merge it with the life of a fictional orphaned boy, happening to spend their time at the same train station.I think this worked really well for the story as the orphan Hugo acted as a link to Méliès’ repressed past, but perhaps also as Méliès’ savior. Then of course discovering the wonders of movies, dreams and the art of machinery through the eyes of a child makes it a lot more magical, don’t you think?
A thing I also liked about Hugo was that it had its own pace. Many times I’ve felt that Hollywood movies have striven to make their movies more exciting and breath-taking by making the pace as fast as possible. I think it’s much more comfortable when a movie makes room for small scenes as well as big ones. That way you sort of appreciate the big moments in the film better I believe. For example the small scenes between Inspector Gustave and Lisette the flower girl as well as the ones between Madame Emile (the lady with the dog) and Monsieur Frick added just the right atmosphere for the other actions taking place at the station.
I mustn’t forget to mention my delight of the newcomers in the acting department. I think Asa Butterfield did a tremendous job playing the main character Hugo. It must have been a difficult character to act; both having to portray the sadness by losing one’s father, matureness from going through many hardships every day as well as a sense of longing to belong in the world. I must also admit Asa’s eyes had great impact. You don’t see such light blue eyes every day! Also loved his accent (sigh). The scene when Isabelle said “We could get into trouble” when they were sneaking into the cinema and Hugo replied “That’s how you know it’s an adventure” was just the best ♥
Also loved the line: “I’d imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn’t be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason..”
I already knew about the girl playing the Isabelle, Chloë Moretz, having seen her in Kickass and Let Me In. Still she played a very different character once again and surprised me with her newfound effortless English accent, nerdy (but cute) love of books and bubbling personality – very different from her earlier roles, I must say. Loved it when Isabelle used all those fancy book vocabulary, for example “I think we should be very… clandestine!” which Hugo, who’d never been to school, didn’t have the the slightest chance of understanding (haha). Together I think they charmed the whole audience with their very contrasting personalities, friendship and bravery (or that’s how I felt at least).
Ben Kingsley did an amazing job playing the old toy stall-keeper with a secret past. He gave the character the depth it deserved and also acted with a vast range of personality as to portray the different states of Méliès’ life. He also has a very powerful gaze I think – no wonder Hugo was afraid of him in the beginning of the movie!
Howard Shore composed the music and gave the movie very fittingly a French sound. But he also blended in his own orchestral themes of course, with who some I fell in love with. As soon as the ending credits were rolling I thought I must listen to that soundtrack! I love the parts with piano as I always tend to do and that theme which played throughout the whole score and gave one a sense of mystery is just phenomenal. Then there’s also the ending theme “Coeur Volant” sung in French by Zaz and composed by Shore – perfect ending track.
All in all a truly memorable movie, which I can’t reallycompare with anything else I’ve seen. I’m definitely getting this on Blu-ray and then I will look forward to watch Asa Butterfield in the movie adaptation of Ender’s Game coming out next year~