‘Taxi Driver’. ‘Goodfellas’. ‘The Departed’. Director Martin Scorsese’s name has over the years become synonymous with the gangster film. Therefore his newest release, Hugo, may come as a surprise to many. A sentimental children’s film, set in Paris, about an orphan who desperately seeks to solve the mystery surrounding his father’s automaton (a sort of robot) does not fit into the acclaimed director’s oeuvre at all. However, as the plot develops it becomes clear that Hugo’s story is only a framing device and that Scorsese’s real interest lies in the incredibly interesting history of how cinema was invented.

The first time a moving train was shown coming towards a screen the audience yelled and ducked, afraid that the vehicle would somehow overcome its cinematic medium and crash right into them. For the modern day person it is impossible to imagine a time when movies were a novelty – something fascinating and breathtaking. It is these forgotten moments that Scorsese reenacts in Hugo. As his protagonist becomes more and more entangled in the mystery surrounding George Melies, a cynical old man who sells toys in the station where Hugo finds shelter, the history of cinema unravels as well.

The promising young actor Asa Butterfield plays Hugo, and his accomplice is Chloe Grace Moretz, who you might recognize from Kick-ass. These kids know how to deliver an emotional performance. The stellar supporting cast is impressive too and includes Sacha Baron Coen, Emily Mortimer, Ben Kingsley (who really looks like the historical George Melies!), amongst others.

If you’re a kid at heart, you’ll like the film. If you’re a film buff, you’ll love it (or at least appreciate all the film trivia). Though Hugo departs from Scorsese’s typical style of filmmaking that so many fans have come to appreciate, no other film of his delivers so much heart. It is the ultimate tribute to what I’m sure has been the only true love in the infamous director’s life – cinema.


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