Week 14 Blog Assignment

Hugo is a Scorsese’s personal homage to early cinema, most notable of Georges Melies, through a narrative regarding Melies own work and the tragedy and blessing that is of time.

Hugo combines many techniques conventionally found in older films and combines it with his own take as well as modern technology. The combination of techniques and the narrative played onscreen makes a contrast and comparison of the progression and evolution of cinema throughout time.

Many themes and motifs are notable strewn throughout the film in the form of the many clockwork machines, a motif of the role each piece or person plays as a greater whole. In the beginning, Hugo himself is inside of the clock, possible a metaphor that he is already part of the system. After all, a machine is useless without a caretaker. Hugo plays the role of the caretaker in multiple forms from fixing misc. machines to even fixing Melies himself. And thus overcoming his own dreary loneliness.

The mise-en-scene really captures the cultural and time period the film takes place, from the French couture and mannerisms to references of films and happenings relevant to the time.

While the animation was very vivid and elaborate, I believe it played a larger role in Scorsese’s personal homage to older film as it applies a very modern technique and technology that contrasts to a story mainly regarding older film.

My only complaint is that perhaps there was too much going on, from a mini-story about the elderly couple and the Officer and Flower Shop Lady that felt forced and rushed.

But that aside, Hugo is still a wonderfully pieced together film that pays homage to Georges Melies.


4 thoughts on “Week 14 Blog Assignment

  1. The extent to which the creators of the movies incorporated historical films amazed me. The deep appreciation that Tabard has for Melies movies plays into the bigger picture of the director’s appreciation for the oldest films. Among the earliest fims ever made, Melies films are obviously seen and talked about in Hugo, as part of the storyline. Still, the homage to old films is present through less obvious means as well, as we learned in class. The parallelism of Hugo hanging from the clock tower to the Harold Lloyd clock scene, as well as the parallelism of the train crash to the Lumiere brothers train scene, shows the careful work that went into the historical homage. The comparisons further show how far technology has gone in special effect, from what Papa Georges calls “magic” to today’s computer graphics.

  2. Jyles, I agree that the CGI definitely created contrast with the elements of old fashioned silent films. In other ways, I feel like the digital effects worked to create harmony with the old techniques. Some effects such as double exposures, stop-motion, miniatures and models, and color schemes are all old school techniques that are enhanced and made even more impressive with the new technology used in the film. Scorsese reminds us that these early techniques have had such a profound impact on cinema, lasting even to today. The groundbreaking effects Melies discovered will always be drawn upon, which further informs the audience of how he will always be remembered.
    I understand your frustration with some of the subplots and mini-stories, but I believe the article we read about Hugo explains the significance of these scenes. Basically, each of the side stories, including the romance of the inspector and the silly interaction of the two dogs, is a homage to the silent shorts that were being produced in that day. Melies himself created several shorts with nothing more than cute and silly antics. This just further contributes to Scorsese’s plan to discreetly pay homage to the beginnings of the magical cinema.

  3. I found the contrast of the tribute to old film with the new technology to be very fascinating as well. Seeing the 1930s time period so vividly and what seems to be pretty realistically with some added technology thrown in was pretty cool and very original. These would not be two things that would seem to go together, but since Hugo is a somewhat fantastical children’s story, it totally worked. I think that it was great that Scorsese added in so many historical film references even though a majority of the audience may not have caught on. I think what’s important about that is that it’s really fascinating for the film history people, but it’s also extremely interesting and entertaining for the people who have no idea about film history and get to experience it a little bit too. Also the accuracy of the film is very admirable because it is an interesting story that I assume most people don’t know about at all, especially the farther and farther we get away from that time period.

  4. I felt like although the mini-stories were short, they added to the overall film by building the characters and their personality. This was also included in the plot as an homage to film back in the early 1900’s, when films would be very short and only include little stories. Putting a few stories into a long movie was somewhat risky because some audience members might find it distracting from the overall plot, but I think it made the storyline come together and makes for a happy ending. The mise-en-scene was very authentic and realistic as to what a train station would have looked like in the 1930s. The motif of clocks tied in well with George Melies’s story and how the past will never be forgotten. Machines were a major part of this film from the clocks, to the automaton, the toys at the stand, and the film machines.

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