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March 6, 2012

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On DVD/Blu-ray – Review: Hugo (2011)

by NIR SHALEV

There exist countless films exploring mankind’s love for film made throughout the past 127 years and many have delivered on their premise. But as of late, none have delivered a more beautiful looking, heartfelt film than Scorsese has with Hugo (yes, I’ve watched The Artist).

Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan who lives inside the walls of the Paris train station, c. 1930. He greases and winds up the gears and cogs of every clock in the station on a daily basis and steals what little food he can get his hands on. We sympathize with him all the more because at one time in his life, he was looked after and educated by a loving father (played by Jude Law) and had come from a relatively prosperous home.

One day, Hugo is caught stealing a mechanical mouse from local toy vendor George (Sir Ben Kingsley) and is forced to work for him in exchange for all of the little things he’d stolen in the past. Hugo is also, secretly, fixing an automaton in the attic in which he resides and has been stealing little gears and whatnots in order to fix it. But that’s a whole other story that kicks in later in the film and which I will not go into in detail because it’s essentially what the film is all about.

The main theme of the film is destiny. As Hugo glances out of a large window onto the beautifully 3D rendered city of Paris (seamlessly replicated in this film), he exclaims that every gear has a purpose in a large machine and that therefore, he has a larger purpose in life. He believes that the automaton is the key to finding out his true calling in life and that it will help him find closure in regards to his deceased father.

Hugo also strikes up a friendship with George’s god-daughter, Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) and he introduces her to moving pictures. They watch Harold Lloyd hanging off a giant clock in Safety Last!; Charles Chaplin in The Kid; Buster Keaton in The General; and so on. I teared up a bit when I first saw those short but brilliant segments in this film and fell for the film’s spell more so as the film progressed.

The supporting cast of the film includes Sacha Baron Cohen, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee, Helen McCrory, Michael Stuhlbarg, Frances de la Tour, and Richard Griffiths.

Hugo is the most competently shot and beautiful looking film of 2011 and is a great ode to cinema. Martin Scorsese not only delivers a great film, one of his best of the past 20 years, but also a great family-oriented film. Here is a film that’s designed for all ages and is also a terrific lesson in film history and the importance of film preservation. This is one of the very best films of 2011 and I’m also glad to announce that it’s the first good, if not great 3D film ever made (even James Cameron said that Scorsese had managed to put Avatar to shame). Here’s to Scorsese, to Hugo, and to the moving pictures!

There is a single DVD version, a two-disc DVD/Blu-ray version, and a three-disc DVD/3D Blu-ray/Blu-ray version. They come with the following special features: Shoot the Moon: the Making of Hugo; The Cinemagician; The Mechanical Man at the Heart of Hugo; Big Effects, Small Scale; Sacha Baron Cohen: Role of a Lifetime; and a UV and digital copies of the film.

Original Commentary Track review of Hugo by Helen Geib.

New releases last week and this: Footloose, Immortals, Jack and Jill, Johnny English Reborn, Like Crazy, My Week With Marilyn, Puss in Boots, The Skin I Live In

1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Mar 6 2012

    What I love about the above photo is not just the motifs of gears but also that, to me, the box in the photo resembles an old film camera. Sort of, not really… but kind of. :O)

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