Let’s be honest. Martin Scorsese and “family friendly” have never gone hand in hand. But what Scorsese forgoes in his familiar, often violent, style with the release of Hugo, he gains in subject matter. In fact, what is seemingly a kid flick at first glance, is arguably more of a lesson in film history for us all. A film about (the wonder of) film.
Hugo is based on the children’s book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick and is both the fictional account of an orphaned boy (Hugo) and the (predominantly) non-fiction account of French filmmaker George Méliès. One could even argue (I am) that Hugo’s storyline is a mere excuse to get to the real agenda at hand – educate the modern culture of Méliès’ prolific work and vast contributions to our present film era.
And while this is worth the price of admission alone, it is not the basis of its representation here. Rather, what Hugo brings to theaters this month (that intrigues us) is its commitment to image, its celebration of creativity, and its pursuit of one of humanity’s familiar questions – What is my purpose?
Actually, Scorsese uses the sub-plot of a broken automaton (a weird and somewhat creepy clock-like-person-of-sorts) with missing pieces, as a metaphor to our primary characters Hugo and Méliès. Midst the pursuit of purpose lies the fundamental concern of being fixed. A concern that we are all too familiar.
What if… I exercised more? What if… I tried something new? And, what if… I actually found what I was looking for? (obligatory U2 reference) What then?
In the case of Hugo (the movie), it’s not about a thing. It’s about a reality. A reality of grace and acceptance. One that happens to show up in a film of three-dimensional beauty.*
*Personally, I think the onslaught of 3D releases (and re-releases) is a bit played and ultimately driven by additional revenue opportunities. (Seriously, Titanic in 3D?) But, Hugo is worth it. Embrace the awkward glasses. Enjoy.