Hugo (film)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons

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Hugo is a 2011 3D adventure drama film based on Brian Selznick's novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret about a boy who lives alone in a Paris railway station and the enigmatic owner of a toy shop there. It is directed by Martin Scorsese and written by John Logan. The film stars Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, and Jude Law.

Hugo is Scorsese’s first film shot in 3D, of which the filmmaker remarked: "I found 3D to be really interesting, because the actors were more upfront emotionally. Their slightest move, their slightest intention is picked up much more precisely." The film was distributed by Paramount Pictures and released in the U.S. on 23 November 2011.



In 1931, Hugo Cabret, a young boy whose mother has died, lives with his father, a master clockmaker in Paris. Hugo's father takes him to see films and loves the films of Georges Méliès best of all. Hugo's father dies in a museum fire, and Hugo is taken away by his uncle, an alcoholic watchmaker who is responsible for maintaining the clocks in the railway station. His uncle teaches him to take care of the clocks, then disappears. Hugo lives between the walls of the station, maintaining the clocks, stealing food and working on his father's most ambitious project: repairing a broken automaton — a mechanical man who is supposed to write with a pen. Hugo steals mechanical parts in the station to repair the automaton, but he is caught by a toy store owner who takes away Hugo's blueprints for the automaton. The automaton is missing one part — a heart–shaped key. Convinced that the automaton contains a message from his father, Hugo goes to desperate lengths to fix the machine. He gains the assistance of Isabelle, a girl close to his age and the goddaughter of the toy shop owner. He introduces Isabelle to the movies, which her godfather has never let her see. Isabelle turns out to have the key to the automaton. When they use the key to activate the automaton, it produces a drawing of a film scene Hugo remembers his father telling him about. They discover that the film was created by Georges Méliès, Isabelle's godfather, an early — but now neglected and disillusioned — cinema legend, and that the automaton was a beloved creation of his from his days as a magician. In the end, the children reconnect Georges with his past and with a new generation of cinema aficionados which has come to appreciate his work.



GK Films acquired the screen rights to The Invention of Hugo Cabret shortly after the book was published in 2007. Hugo was filmed at London’s Shepperton Studios as well as on locations in London, Paris and the Nene Valley Railway near Peterborough, who also loaned their original Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits rolling stock to the studio.


Critical reception

Hugo has received universal critical acclaim. Review tallying website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 157 of the tallied 168 reviews were positive, for a score of 93% and a certification of "fresh". In comparison, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gave the film an average score of 83 based on 41 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".

Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four-out-of-four stars saying "Hugo is unlike any other film Martin Scorsese has ever made, and yet possibly the closest to his heart: a big-budget, family epic in 3-D, and in some ways, a mirror of his own life. We feel a great artist has been given command of the tools and resources he needs to make a movie about—movies."

Hugo was selected for the Royal Film Performance 2011 with a screening at the Odeon, Leicester Square in London on Monday, 28 November 2011 in the presence of TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall in support of the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund.

Richard Corliss of Time named it one of the Top 10 Best Movies of 2011, saying "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".

Top ten lists

The film has appeared on the following critics' top ten lists for the best films of 2011:

Critic Publication Rank
Sasha Stone Awards Daily 1st
David Denby The New Yorker 1st
Noel Murray A.V. Club 2nd
Glenn Kenny MSN Movies 2nd
Peter Hartlaub San Francisco Chronicle 2nd
Richard Corliss Time 2nd
Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times 4th
Lisa Schwarzbaum Entertainment Weekly 4th
Richard Brody The New Yorker 4th
Peter Paras E! Online 5th
Template:N/a MTV 5th
Keith Phipps A.V. Club 6th
Todd McCarthy The Hollywood Reporter 6th
Peter Travers Rolling Stone 6th
Template:N/a TV Guide 7th
J. Hoberman Village Voice 8th
Kim Morgan MSN Movies 9th
Sean Axmaker MSN Movies 10th
Glenn Heath Jr. Slant 10th
Jeff Simon Buffalo News Template:N/a
Manohla Dargis The New York Times Template:N/a
Phillip French The Observer Template:N/a

References to real-world history

The overall backstory and primary features of Georges Méliès' life as depicted in the film are largely accurate: he did become interested in film after seeing a demonstration of the Lumière brothers' camera, he was a magician and toymaker, he experimented with automata, he did own a theatre (Theatre Robert-Houdin), he was forced into bankruptcy, his film stock was reportedly melted down for its cellulose, he became a toy salesman at the Montparnasse station, and he was eventually awarded the Légion d'honneur (Legion of honor) medal after a period of terrible neglect. Many of the early silent films shown in the movie are Méliès' actual works such as Le voyage dans la lune (1902).

The automaton was inspired by one made by the Swiss watchmaker Henri Maillardet, which Selznick had seen in the Franklin Museum, Philadelphia It is similar to two famous Jaquet-Droz automata—the Writer and the Draughtsman.

A dream sequence in the film depicts the famous Gare Montparnasse railway derailment.

Emil Lager, Ben Addis, and Robert Gill make cameo appearances as Django Reinhardt, the father of jazz guitar, Salvador Dali, the Spanish surrealist painter, and James Joyce, the Irish writer, respectively. The names of all three characters appear towards the end of the film's cast credit list.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Hugo (film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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