Home > Uncategorized > The Magic of “Hugo” (the film)

The Magic of “Hugo” (the film)

This post is another flashback from my writing archive. I wrote this on the very last day of 2011. It has been edited (as most of my earlier writing must be).

My siblings bicker and complain in the background, my father finds a couple of things to worry about. The monkey mind is at work around me–but as for me, I want to preserve something beautiful in my head, an image to hold fast to. What I want to hold onto is Hugo.

Hugo is a masterpiece—it is what cinema should be.

As if to remind us that film too often falls short of its early promise, the story (which is based on the real-life story of Hugo Cabret) is partly about the history of early film. But that’s where the meta ends: there’s none of that unnecessary, try-too-hard self-referential crap found in mediocre fare like The Muppets, which I had the misfortune of viewing a few days ago.

The diction–or rather, elocution–of the dialogue was executed dramatically. That may seem an odd adverb—by dramatic I mean it was lively, full, vigorous, emphatic. And I wish people actually talked like that. Dialogue in most modern movies seems to be more everyday. Flat, boring, smaller than life, rather than larger. But the great director of this film, Scorsese, apparently does not feel bound by ephemeral artistic fashions, instead returning to drama in its best sense.

He is similarly unabashed using colors. Lyrical colors, if that makes any sense. It’s so beautiful. Everything about the film is. Its perfect; it’s not afraid to be emotional, but–again–isn’t self-consciously dramatic. It’s surprising. It’s not predictable, and it’s not stupid. I don’t think to myself the protagonist is an idiot—I would do obviously X, or Y doesn’t make sense. In this film, there were little stories interweaved into the main story driving the film, like passengers hitching a ride on the rustic engine that plays a significant part. I think they were done masterfully.

But even with these few specific feelings, it’s hard to account for the sum of its impact: it seems that there is more, I just can’t pinpoint what it is that makes it great. Greatness is hard to define, but there’s something to define, even if there is a large and arbitrary social-proof element. And Mr. Scorsese’s magical film about a boy, an automaton, a girl, a man who has forgotten himself, and the enchantment of the first moving pictures, has it.

Part of it is surely Asa Butterfield, who is so expressive. Part of it may be that the two child stars played characters who are like miniature, innocent adults, made picture-perfect and polished. Hugo, the titular character, is someone precious–I found myself thinking and feeling that a person like that (the fictional character) is precious and cannot just disappear. If there are people like that, they should not die. That would be tragic. Alive people need to be alive.

See Hugo.

Also, two months after I saw this movie and wrote my heartfelt review, it won five Oscars. I think we both know why it won those Oscars. You can’t miss this blog: subscribe now. There’s an RSS button at the top and right.

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