Make Up Stylist: LaTavia Dawson
Models: Natalie Hartford & Lauren Ashenden
by Rick Grant
Martin Scorsese’s homage to the early pioneers of film is a cinematic masterwork. It’s told through the eyes of an orphan boy, Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield). Set in Paris, France in 1930, Scorsese’s scene-craft’s amazing attention to detail, along with John Logan’s adaptation of Brain Selznick’s novel, produced a magical film that upgrades the family movie to true film art.
Hugo lives inside the labyrinth of the Paris clock tower. His greatest fear is being discovered by the mean Station Inspector (Sasha Baron Cohen) and shipped off to a concentration camp for street urchins–the fearsome overcrowded orphanage. His father was a watchmaker and mechanical genius. But he was killed in a fire, leaving Hugo with his broken automaton– a mechanical robot that writes messages on paper, driven by a clock-works mechanism.
John Logan’s script allowed Scorsese plenty of leeway to create his intricate mosaics. The story references Dickens’ David Copperfield and other more modern stories like Harry Potter. Hugo is always running away from the Station Inspector who has a deal with the orphanage to nab as many parentless boys as possible.
Sacha Baron Cohen’s masterful portrayal of the orphan-hunting Inspector is a pivotal part of the film. Cohen’s scene stealing Inspector leads to Hugo’s relationship with a bitter ex-film maker, Georges Melies, (Ben Kingsley) who, at first, judges the boy to be a good-for-nothing thief.
Yes, it’s all about connections that tie Hugo with Georges and his godchild, Isabelle. She befriends Hugo and he helps her have her big adventure. The key factor in Georges depression is the First World War– after which people lost interest in the new medium of moviemaking. The savage war produced appalling death numbers and badly maimed veterans.
Clearly, Scorsese’s tribute to the inventors of movies, such Georges Melies and Harold Lloyd, is a cinematic trip back in time when imagination not money ruled the fledgling movie business. Ah yes, Scorsese’s elaborate sets and attention to detail reminds audiences how exciting moving pictures were to people. A film about a train coming into a station would make audiences duck under their seats, thinking the train would hit them. And, that’s many years before 3-D.
Indeed, this year quality films have been as scarce as intelligent candidates. In terms of Scorsese’s in-depth visual story telling, well written script, and the exceptional acting by the cast make this one of the best films of the year.