This is a marvelousl film! I went to see it New Year’s Day at the Shattuck Cinema in downtown Berkeley. I should have brought a bigger hankie! I went by myself but would like to bring my 11 and 15 year old to another showing. I am curious as to their reactions. My daughter had said that she didn’t think it was the kind of film she would enjoy. I am always interested as to where young people get the ideas that they would or would not enjoy a work. If she thinks perhaps it is too dark or depressing, consider the popular children’s books, series and movies — Harry Potter, Series of Unfortunate Events or The Mysterious Benedict Society. They are all dark, weird, creepy, but much beloved works.
Parts of the film are scary, weird, sweet, and unexpected. It is about family or lack thereof, independence, curiosity, creativity, hopes, dreams, and the history of early film (which I certainly had not expected). I can see why Sorsese loved doing this film and why it is already winning so many awards.
I have always loved Ben Kingsley, since first seeing him in Gandhi (1982), many years ago. In Hugo, he plays a mysterious elderly man who runs a candy and toy repair shop in the Paris train station. Another wonderful character is the elderly book seller, surrounded by mountains of books, who knows exactly where to look in the huge film archives library for a certain type of book. It is a wonderful lesson for children to see what amazing things they can learn through research. It is a pivotal point in the movie as Hugo and his friend leaf through a book on a film maker and respond to an adult asking why they are interested in a certain film maker. It turns out to be the book’s author and soon they are touring his private collection on the film maker. I believe in the power of seemingly coincidental events to come together into a pattern if one’s mind is open to opportunities. It has worked a number of times in my life. There is a fortune cookie slip that appeared in my daily calendar yesterday which reads, “Pray for what you want, but work for the things you need.”
The play of emotions are wonderful in this film. With a series of small movements or one facial expression you can see into the actor’s emotional state, hopes and dreams. In one lovely scene you see the yearning for love in a wounded soldier, his attempt to make contact with Lisette, then his loss of confidence and his drawing back from the opportunity.
A young girl makes friends with Hugo because she says she has never had an adventure. She suspects that as his friend she will have one. I loved the vignette where Hugo and his friend are thrown out of ther first cinema experience and Hugo says something like, “When you get into trouble, you know it has been an adventure!”
Did you know that Johnny Depp’s production company Infinitum Nihil co-produced the film? This was one of the few films where I sat through the entire credits looking for people I knew and just trying to compose myself emotionally before leaving the theater. Don’t forget that hankie!
This film is based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007) by Brian Selznick. It won the 2008 Caldecott Award, the first time a picture book of this kind won the prize. It is not a graphic novel but relies on the 280-some pictures to help tell the story. http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecottmedal/caldecotthonors/2008caldecottmedalhonorshttp://www.amazon.com/Invention-Hugo-Cabret-Brian-Selznick/dp/0439813786/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1325530089&sr=1-1