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Scorcese’s “Hugo” (spoilers)

November 27, 2011

[This blog post contains spoilers.  If you have not seen the Scorcese film Hugo and plan to, best to postpone reading this post.]

I got around to seeing Martin Scorcese’s Hugo (3D).  The movie is great fun for film nerds (with quotations or references to Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last, Lumière’s Arrivée d’un Train à La Ciotat, Blake Edward’s Pink Panther, Scorcese’s Goodfellas, a ton of Georges Méliès’s films, Jean Renoir’s La Bête Humaine, the 1895 derailment at Gare Montparnasse, etc.)  It also contains by far the most virtuosic use of stereoscopic filming used in any commercial film that I have seen, with one particularly unsettling scene where Sacha Baron Cohen (as an Inspector Clouseau-ish character) breaks through the stereo “fourth wall.”

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(For those who have seen the film – do you know if the footage of WWI troops was taken from some early stereo film? Or was the stereo effect artificially created? I thought I knew all of the pre-1950 stereo films, but I did not know this scene.)

hugo

As a story for kids, I’m not so sure about this movie.  There is nothing particularly offensive in this film (the closest it gets  to foul language it gets is a sworn French malédiction), but I’m not actually sure it would be interesting to children (or, normal children.)  The plot is predictable at points (as soon as the Ben Kingsley “Georges” character and the young “Hugo” meet, it becomes an obvious movie cliché that by the end of the film they will be friends) and there are all sorts of unnecessary complications (what was the point of having the elder Cabret’s notebook in the plot?  In the end Hugo does not need it to repair the automaton.)  I’d be interested in your impressions – especially if there were children in the theater at the showing you attended.

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