Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011


A young orphan (Asa Butterfield) works furtively regulating a train station's clocks while pursuing his dead father's dream of bringing a machine to life. What sounds like a grease monkey's Frankenstein is really a parable of creative ingenuity. For lifelong movie obsessive Martin Scorsese, Hugo is also an imaginary autobiography. Like Brian Selznick, author and illustrator of the source novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Scorsese believes that films are both the stuff dreams are made of and the product of supreme technological expertise. The camera is a machine that makes art, and filmmakers can be tinkers and tinkerers of genius. In this urban adventure with dewy Dickensian elements, Hugo finds a kindred soul in Georges Méliès (played by Ben Kingsley with the pained grandeur of an exiled king), who virtually invented cinema fantasy with such films as A trip to the Moon, then fell into obscurity. Scorsese's love poem, rendered gorgeously in 3-D, restores both the reputation of an early pioneer and the glory of movie history — the birth of a popular art form given new life through a master's application of the coolest new techniques.