Remember This? Hugo

Chris Connor defends a negleted Martin Scorsese film.


Hugo is a bit of an oddball in Martin Scorsese’s canon of work. Audiences are most likely to associate Scorsese with dark brooding works on human fragility from Mean Streets and Goodfellas to Taxi Driver and The Wolf Of Wall Street. Hugo first came to my attention during the awards season of 2011, as it received a string of nominations at both the BAFTA’s and Oscar’s in spite of failing to win any major gongs. Whilst critics liked Hugo, audiences didn’t click with it in quite the same vein and it barely made back its considerable budget, however it was included in many polls as one of that year’s best movies.

Hugo is set in 1930s Paris and focuses on orphan Hugo Cabret who’s inventor father (Jude Law) has recently died, having discovered an automaton and he is placed in the care of his alcoholic uncle (Ray Winstone), much of the film focuses on his attempts to avoid being sent to an orphanage by one of the station guards played with gusto by Sacha Baron Cohen as well as trying to fix the automaton in the memory of his late father. Part of the appeal of the film is its fantastic supporting cast and the 3 names already mentioned all play their part however for me the two young leads Asa Butterfield in the titular role and Chloe Grace Moretz, capture the innocence of youth in an incredible fashion and allow the film to be a masterful escapist viewing Butterfield whilst sharing the screen with the likes of Sir Ben Kingsley and Christopher Lee, more than manages to hold his own, showing what a talented young actor he is, Hugo having come after his breakout role in the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

Howard Shore’s score is superb, breathing life into the film

Visually the film is incredibly striking with the shots of Paris being particularly evocative, capturing the era the film is set in. The costume design is perfect and the film when focusing on Ben Kingsley’s character George Melies pays homage to the 1920s era of Cinema. Howard Shore’s score is superb, breathing life into the film and standing as some of his very best work, carrying on from his timeless score for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I find it a crying shame this film is often overlooked when discussing Scorsese’s work as whilst incredibly different to the Raging Bull’s and Gangs of New York’s he has made it showcases his importance to the film industry. I would hope he goes down the path of making more family friendly films in future as it shows his love of classic cinema, for great story telling.

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