Hugo Shines As Technical Achievement

Latest Scorsese is a must-see for story and especially for visuals. This is the latest in a series of reviews of 2012 Oscar-nominated films.


This week, I will tackle Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, which was nominated for a leading 11 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for Scorsese. It won five Oscars, including Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing. 

Hugo is a movie for children, but it was also a movie for me since it has strong ties with film and film preservation. 


This is not surprising for Scorsese, who is a staunch advocate in all types of worldwide film preservation efforts. 

A kids' movie is enough of a departure (pun intended) for the director of Taxi Driver and Goodfellas, but by keeping the subject matter close to Scorsese’s heart, his transition to making a movie for youngsters was practically seamless. 

Hugo revolves around the world of little Hugo Cabret, who lives in a Paris train station where his drunkard uncle (and guardian) works as a timekeeper.  When his uncle goes missing, Hugo finds various ways to entertain himself in the station, all having to do with finding a lost key he thinks his late father meant for him to find. 

One of the major obstacles to finding the key is George Melies, a shopkeeper in the station.  After spending time with Melies’ niece, Hugo finds out that the shopkeeper is actually one of the pioneers of early cinema and that he just got pushed out of the film business when sound was introduced.  

What makes Hugo work, even more than the sweet story, is the fantastic production design.  The sets are spectacular in their period and delicate detail.  I saw this movie in 2D, though a 3D is offered as well (it is my goal to never again don 3D glasses in protest for my disdain of this ridiculous three dimensional comeback).  I know a lot of the background stuff was done with special effects and though that takes some of the “magic” away for me, I still feel this film deserved to win every technical Oscar it was nominated for, especially Art Direction. 

Overall, I loved the story, loved the “filmie” aspect of the plot, but I so admired the detail and the craftsmanship that went into the LOOK of the film.  

Hugo: 2011, rated PG, 126 minutes, directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Christopher Lee, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Helen McCrory, Sasha Baron Cohen and Jude Law.  The Niles Public Library will own this title on DVD once it is released. 

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