Part of the beauty of filmmaking, is the ability to transport viewers to another reality. Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, filmmaker Georges Méliès seized the opportunity to put stop tricks and painted film cells to use, combining his skills as a magician and filmmaker to, quite literally, bring dreams to life. Ultimately, we’re still doing the very same thing today, but with the wildly advanced technology and more thorough understanding of storytelling, director Martin Scorsese has created one of the most successful attempts at bringing an audience into the movie with Hugo.
It’s the 1930s in Paris, France. After losing his father (Jude Law) in a terrible fire, young Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is forced to live with his only relative, his uncle, Claude (Ray Winstone). A far from responsible drunk, Claude pulls Hugo out of school and shows him the ropes at work, teaching Hugo to keep the clocks running at a Paris train station. And it’s a good thing, too, because when Claude leaves Hugo to his lonesome, it’s up to Hugo to keep things timely.
When he isn’t tending to his train station duties, Hugo is hard at work at the one thing his father left behind, an automaton. Hugo regularly snatches up food and milk from the train station vendors and also frequents grumpy old Georges Méliès’ (Ben Kingsley) toy stand, a place prime for automaton part collecting. When Méliès catches Hugo in the act, he demands the boy empty his pockets. Amidst the usual mess of rogue toy parts is a notebook with automaton drawings and instructions that oddly rub Méliès the wrong way. When Méliès takes Hugo’s precious notebook, Hugo turns to Méliès’ goddaughter, Isabelle (Chloe Moretz), for help and the two discover they have a lot to offer one another, Isabelle helping Hugo get his automaton up and running and Hugo giving Isabelle a taste of adventure.
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