Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hugo (2011)

This is a solid movie. In 1931, Hugo Cabret is orphaned when his father is killed in a fire. He is taken by his alcoholic uncle who maintains the clocks in a railway station. When his uncle disappears, Hugo decides to stay at the train station and work on the clocks. He has a broken automaton of a mechanical man holding a pen that has deep meaning for him because his father was trying to repair it, and he believes the machine will have a message for him. He steals parts from a toy shop owner (Ben Kingsley) and the old man takes an important book away from him when he is caught. He meets a girl named Isabelle (Chloë Moretz) who lives with the old man and learns that she has a key that fits his robot. Soon they discover the connection the store owner and the mechanical man have to the silent film era.

The film is based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret, a 2007 historical-fiction book written and illustrated by Brian Selznick. It was the first novel to win a Caldecott Medal. The overall backstory and primary features of filmmaker Georges Méliès' life are largely accurate. Méliès directed 531 films between 1896 and 1913, and about 200 of those are still around. The automaton was inspired by one made by the Swiss watchmaker Henri Maillardet.

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