When one hears of the name Martin Scorsese, one’s mind immediately goes to gangster films with a lot of profanity, violence and frivolity. Another image that comes to mind is either Robert DeNiro or Leonardo Dicaprio as the lead man. Scorsese is arguably the greatest director alive today (even Steven Spielberg says so and I concur). Anyone with a filmography containing gems like Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Casino, The Departed, The Aviator, Gangs of New York, Shutter Island and The Wolf of Wall Street is a Godsend for humanity! These are some of his films which most would recommend in a heartbeat. But there are other films too which the great director has in his resume that would put the likes of Spielberg, Tarantino, Nolan, Zemeckis and James Cameron to eat their words. Films like Kundun, The King of Comedy, New York New York and more recently, the masterpiece – HUGO!
“If you’ve ever wondered where your dreams come from… you look around… This is where they’re made!”
With Hugo, Martin Scorsese has achieved what very few directors have managed – Make a fairy tale that appeals to adults with its immense emotional depth and maturity that would leave you spellbound at the brilliance of the visual medium. To add icing to the cake, the film is presented in magnificent native 3-D. The 3-D experience rivals those of Avatar and that’s saying a lot. The almost Dickensian approach to the story with vibes of Wizard of Oz make this the most unusually different film (Scorsese or otherwise) since Spielberg’s A.I. Never has a film so technically advanced tackled a plot with such depth and maturity. Kudos!
Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan who lives in the Paris train station in the 1930’s. His job is to take care of the station clocks, a job that actually belongs to his drunk uncle who is never around. The station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen) is a man obsessed with catching orphans and shipping them off to the orphanage. Hugo’s father (Jude Law) was a clockmaker who taught Hugo everything he knows, but died shortly after starting a project of repairing an Automaton, a mechanical man he found discarded in the museum where he used to work. Hugo, continues trying to get the machine to work by stealing parts from the shopkeeper in the station, George Milies (Ben Kingsley). When the shopkeeper catches him, he is deeply disturbed and confiscates Hugo’s father’s precious notebook. Hugo finds an ally in the shopkeeper’s goddaughter, Isabelle (Chloe Moretz). This adventure which starts off as a regular “reclaim what is rightfully yours” theme soon turns into a revealing story that would explain the magic of movies and the secret of the shopkeeper.
The film is not fast paced, mind. It takes its own sweet time to reveal its cards and that only adds to the charm. The look and feel of the film makes it seem like a piece of art in its purest form. Indeed every frame is captivating. The audience is educated in the evolution of films right from late 1800’s to early 1900’s. Scorsese uses the opportunity to pay homage to several of the earliest films like Lumiere Brother’s “Arrival of a Train at the Station” and 1902’s “A Trip to the Moon” among many others. There is so much more to the plot which if revealed would be considered major spoilers(Although I might have toed the line a fair few times already).
Asa Butterfield, Chloe Moretz and Ben Kingsley get the most screen time and boy, do they make the most of it. Not that the other performances were not great. I mean, come on, it’s a Scorsese film. Everyone needs to be at their best, even Sacha Baron Cohen who tries desperately to avoid bringing his Borat personality into this film’s universe. Howard Shore’s music deserves special mention along with cinematography by Robert Richardson. I feel Scorsese deserved an Oscar for direction more for this film than The Departed. Anyway who cares. As a character in the film says, “Come, Dream with me”, I say, “Come, Dream with Scorsese”.