Week 14 Hugo

Hugo is another tale of a child stuck in the transition to an adult. The orphan caught up in the workforce is portrayed not only literally, but through the repetitive symbolism of machines.

Hugo asserts his independence early on in the movie. His encounter with Papa Georges proves that the is not new to thievery, and his reluctance to tell Papa Georges his reasoning behind stealing implies that Hugo has no guidance. Despite the lack of guidance, Hugo seems to know what he has to do to survive on his own, because he works hard to avoid the orphan catcher in order to continue tending to the clocks.

We learn that Hugo works the clocks because he feels that it is his duty in the world.  He compares the world to a big machine, with every part having a purpose- even him, an orphan. This analogy shows that Hugo has learned the harsh reality of the world- humans are just part of a big machine, working like parts of a clock.

Automatons extend the analogy of the machine even further. The automatons are almost human, yet they only serve one function: to preform their specified tasks. By the end of the movie, even Isabelle has made the the connection between Hugo and the working automaton.


2 thoughts on “Week 14 Hugo

  1. I do not believe that the mechanical imagery in this film holds such a negative connotation. Hugo’s interaction with the machines represents his sense of purpose and responsibility. At one point, Hugo even points out that if he can just be like a machine, he would be more a part of the world. Society is so often depicted as a machine, as in the opening double exposure of the the clock gears over the city streets. All of these things are as such that you’ve pointed out, but this analogy is not one of “harsh reality,” but instead of realized purpose. The point of the film is for an orphan who feels out of place and worthless to find his place in the world–to become a part of the “machine” that is society. He does this, of course, by discovering the magic of cinema. The art of George Melies that Hugo so naturally understands, is that purpose he has been searching for (which is, by no coincidence, a similar origin story of the director himself). By the end of film, Hugo is part of a family founded upon cinema. And, as the final image of the automoton indicates, all of this was accomplished by the guidance of of his deceased father who has ultimately been his true inspiration.

  2. I don’t believe that Hugo thinks he’s duties in the world is to tend to the train station clocks. He simply does it to avoid the inspector in order to find he’s actual purpose. As a small boy who lost his father during a interesting time of his life, he believes the automaton holds the clue that will lead him in the right path. Indirectly, it does. He is constantly taunted by papa Georges due to the fact that he steals from him when in reality both characters have something in common that will bring lots of joy to each other. I didn’t notice the analogy between the automaton and humans on how each one serves a specific function. I can see how that would make sense but that would limit the human mind to only one particular thing which is kind of upsetting. I believe the automaton serves more as a bridge between two characters that on the outside have nothing in common but when you look within are endlessly connected.

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