Making the Grades
Director Martin Scorsese stands at the helm of the visually stunning movie Hugo. Based on an illustrated novel and set in the 1930s, the story introduces Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield), an orphan who lives in the internal chambers of the Paris train station. Brought there by his drunken and now absent uncle (Ray Winstone), he secretly winds and repairs the multitude of clocks in the building in hopes no one will realize the older man is gone.
Wandering among the shops, he survives by stealing food while avoiding the station inspector (Sasha Baron Cohen) who patrols the depot for homeless children. In his tiny quarters, the lonely boy’s only companion is an automaton his father (Jude Law) found in storage at a museum. Tinkering away every evening, Hugo tries to repair the mechanical human figure.
Meanwhile the station’s toyshop owner Georges Méliés (Ben Kingsley) reacts coolly when his goddaughter Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz) befriends Hugo. He knows the boy steals parts and tools from him. Yet only slowly does the connection between Georges and Hugo become apparent.
Lasting over two hours, this movie may be too long for family viewing with younger audiences. As well, the script expands to include a host of secondary characters and a storyline with some historical significance, which will thrill film buffs but may bore children and some teens.
Employing phenomenal sets and a strong musical score, Scorsese applies amazing 3D effects that leave viewers teetering on the ledge of a clock tower or staring down the workings of a giant timepiece. However for audiences used to sugarcoated entertainment, this beautifully plated production will likely be far more substantial than expected.
This movie is also known as Hugo Cabret.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Hugo.
What does Hugo discover about the purpose of life? What difference does he make in the lives of the people he meets? How does he help Isabelle find her purpose? What is it?
Isabelle claims she has only had adventures through books. What effect does reading have on her and her vocabulary?
Clocks are everywhere in this production. What is the significance of time in this story? What events happen because someone is at the right place at the right time? How are some characters stuck in the moment?
Does an understanding of film history change the way we look at movies? How did those early inventions transform the world of entertainment? What other “passing fancies” have become ingrained in society. Check out this footage of Le Voyage dans la lune shot in 1902.