Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Films of Martin Scorsese Vol. 3: Hugo (2011)

When I was 11 years old, and Pulp Fiction was released on VHS, I was instantly in love, It had a strange affect on me. At the time I was just a kid who watched a lot of movies but never really had an appreciation for them like I have now. But that stuck with me, and for the next 16 years I would watch many many great films, and my appreciation and interests in the art form would continue to expand, and they still do. But whenever anyone asked “whats your favorite movie” Pulp Fiction would always be the immediate response with no hesitation. Well, something strange happened to me in late 2011. I watched Hugo for the first time, and everything changed.

Hugo was a film that I felt was terribly mis marketed. It looked like Scorsese was in fact doing exactly what the media said, making a children's film. Nobody really seemed to have a problem with that, however I probably speak for many others when I say the final product was something far different than what most were expecting. The film tells a fairly simple story at first, a boy named Hugo Cabret tragically lost his father, with whom he was working to restore and bring back to life an old automaton robot that was supposed to draw a picture. After his fathers death Hugo was taken by his alcoholic uncle to live with him in an elaborate Paris train station. While there he would be expected to help his uncle fix and maintain the stations clock. Instead he was determined to finish the work he started with his father, and get that little robot to deliver his message. In the process he would befriend a local girl (Chloe Moretz) who also spends a lot of time in the station where her grandfather, who is played by Ben Kingsley, and who's character will become of the utmost importance in the later half of the film. In fact the entire premise I just explained would prove to be only half the story. What unfolds when Hugo and Chloe discover the Robots secret begins a series of events that completely shift the tone, and story of the film drastically, and wonderfully. I have decided to leave out the details of these events. Though I am sure a lot of people have already heard details of what unfolds. I assure you if you are not familiar with what happens, its much better left to your own discovery.

I had never had a film leave such an impact on me than Hugo. Martin Scorsese has done something wonderful, he manages to craft something that perfectly sums up his personal passion for film and the appreciation and preservation of film history. I was not familiar with the source material, and didn’t know a lot about Hugo going in, only that Martin Scorsese is my favorite director, he directed a new film, and everyone seemed to like it. By the end it was crystal clear how Hugo affected me, the feelings I had when the credits began to role are something I will never forget. I was in tears, the final moments of the film left me fighting back to urge to outright bawl, and that is no exaggeration.

Anyone who has even the remotest appreciation for film, beyond just “yeah I like watching movies”, needs to watch Hugo. I could write a thousand paragraphs about what this film meant, but all I can really do is urge everyone to watch it. Behind that beautiful surface that is a wonderful child’s fantasy adventure, and hiding in plain sight, is one of the most poignant messages I have every seen expressed on film, about film. That it is just as important to preserve and celebrate the history and roots, as it is to embrace and explore the art of film. Like anything else, as time moves forward we mustn’t forget what got it where it is today. Many great things, including films, have been lost to time, and its truly tragic.

Hugo was my favorite film of 2011, but it also instantly became my favorite film period.

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