Movie Review: Hugo

Martin Scorcese. I feel like we hardly knew ye. I guess I thought you were a cinema thug of sorts. Goodfellas. Gangs of New York. Cape Fear. Shutter Island. While your films have always showed an understanding of the inner workings of your characters’ souls, watching Hugo, one of the finest films I’ve ever seen, made me feel like I was seeing you for the first time. When I came home and did a little homework, I discovered that you almost became a priest, which made me realize that we never really know what a person is made of until we dig deep. I believe you dug deep to make Hugo, which is gift to us all, and one that I will never, ever lose.

When I hold Hugo up against the other movies up for Best Picture, I wonder how anyone could vote for any of them. The HelpHugoDescendentsHugo. Seriously, never have so many things come together so well to produce a perfect movie. Cinematography. Casting. Dialogue. Cinematography. Direction. Layers and layers of plot. Did I mention cinematography?

I won’t give it away by going through the plot, but I must somehow express to you the many layers of messaging that exist in Hugo. Then let’s talk about the craft.

The characters. Each character has a to go through something in order to rid themselves of a painful past and reach the sunlight of a future connected to others. Hugo risks it all. He becomes a thief in order to rebuild a machine that has rusted away and lost its original luster after years of neglect. Hugo realizes that this machine holds the key to his happiness—and everyone’s. Along the way, every character makes choices that affect their freedom and their chances for salvation. Rarely is a tale so tightly woven in a movie script—everything comes together just the way it should. If anyone involved with the production had made even mistake, the movie never would have worked the way it did. Intricate brilliance.

During the scenes that take us through the clock and watch-gear movement, I kept seeing still images. “Where have I seen this before?” I asked myself? Those images came from Georges Bracque’s cubist paintings. Do you think it’s a coincidence that Georges is also the name of the building that contains some of the machinery portrayed in those scenes? Ah, the intricacy of the inner workings of the clocks, watches, and automatons. Much like our own insides. For me, the thought that a rusted, old, misused automaton could be oiled and lovingly rebuilt means that so can we. A rusty soul can be shined to its potential.

Martin. Your direction. Your point of view for each and every shot could take pages to celebrate. Suffice to say that every keyhole you brought us through, every doorway, every moment, was not wasted on me. I realize you were showing us that in order to get to the other side of anything, you must pause at the doorway—and then burst through, with sureness of foot and bravery of soul. I got it. I really did.

I guess I need to comment on the 3-D thing. No comment. What you get in depth perception is lost in reality. There is something surreal about it, and I didn’t think Hugo was surreal. I thought it was a story about the insides of us all, and the roadmaps to higher places that are hidden inside each of us, and can be found if we are brave enough to search for them. The 3-D thing didn’t work for me.

So all in all, I look forward to clapping with glee as you take award after award after award from the Academy at the end of the month. If you do not, I will not watch them ever again. Thanks for a great gift in films. I am so grateful.

 

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