Hugo, the inspirational tale of an orphaned child who attempts to unravel a great mystery in order to give closure and to connect with his late father, is most well known for its huge budget and masterful use of special effects. However, the film does in fact delve into older special effect techniques, as an homage to Georges Melies. For example, the train crash, as we watched, was done through a model, and the automaton was not done through effects, it was actually made. There’s always something interesting about a Martin Scorsese movie, and when it comes to Hugo, the topic of discussion is the marvelous style that the movie has through its special effects and cinematography. In my opinion, the film is   style over substance, and apart from the effects, it doesn’t really wow me. The acting and character progression, in particular, were two plot elements that I think could have been done better. Hugo and Isabelle were annoying and not likable, and the comic relief that the train inspector provided was unnecessary. The progression of the characters was also confusing. Isabelle and Hugo become best friends instantly, and seemingly for no reason. Georges Melies and his wife are the only interesting characters. The sequence where Melies explains his movie making career, and all of his previous works are shown on screen, is probably the best part of the entire film. The tinting of Melies’ old movies combined with the narration Melies provides makes this scene one of the most rememberable scenes, too. It is the most colorful part of the film, and it doesn’t even use CGI. From start to finish, Hugo is a decent film. It provides most of what an audience is looking for in excitement, fun, and a stylistic edge. however, It lacks the substance of a great film.



Either I just really need some inspiration in my life or I really like children’s movies, haven’t decided which quite yet. I think that Hugo did a great job of appealing to multiple audiences so appropriately. With such a well-known director and I’m sure a big budget, it was probably a smart decision to make the movie something that’s genuinely for the whole family.

I was also very fascinated by the movie’s ability to look so new and modern in terms of technology, but still make the viewers feel as if it was really taking place in the 1930s. It is very rare that we would see the filmmaking process of an old silent film in a way other than what is preserved on black and white film that we have today. The film being as modern as it is definitely gave the filmmakers more capabilities and more freedom to expand the film into an adventurous and very storybook-esque feeling.

The main theme seemed to be man’s connection with technology or mechanics or something in that general field. This was very interesting because, although the clock motif was a bit overused, it still drove home pretty important general ideas that complimented the rest of the film quite well. I think something to consider when criticizing this film is that it really was intended for viewers of all ages and for kids, it was probably a good idea to emphasize and reemphasize the same things so that they could actually gain something a little bit deeper from watching the film as well. I think that the usage of a somewhat stereotypical young duo was turned into something pretty creative. That being said, I think that all of the characters in the movie were very well developed and all complicated each other very well so that it all came together and made sense in the end. Incorporating real history into the film was definitely a great idea and made the film very unique.

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.


Martin Scorcese’s Hugo is truly a wonderful film that pays homage to the history of cinema. Essentially, the esteemed director is trying to restore the magic of cinema to all of his viewers. Through the eyes of a young boy, Scorcese succeeds in restoring this magic by celebrating the films of one of the greatest storytellers ever, George Melies.

To say the least, the film is visually beautiful as it is able to fill a setting that at times is mostly made of gears and machines with life and vigor. The machines ultimately serve as a strong motif throughout the film as a metaphor can be established between an incomplete Hugo and George and an incomplete/broken machine. Through their encounters, however, both Hugo and George are able to become complete by finding/re-finding their purposes in life. This is ultimately what the automaton represents towards the end of the film.

In terms of special effects and CGI, in a day and age where special effects tends to be overused in film, Scorcese uses it in moderation to perfectly blend it in with the movie.

By the end of the film, Scorcese has also succeeded in teaching Hugo’s audience certain themes that are prevalent through out the film. These themes include among others loneliness and the already established finding meaning in ones life. Although a bit cliché that every character in the film, with the exception of Uncle Claude, has a happy ending, I believe the ending is perfect in order to restore the magic of cinema as it definitely has an old school feel to it. Ultimately, Hugo is meant to restore the audience’s faith in movies and the happiness it can bring them. In my opinion, I believe does just that. With its stunning cast, Hugo is truly a treat for all those who see it.

A Clockwork Flop

I did not like Hugo. I felt that the film overextended its purpose, a love letter to George Melies. I appreciate his works, yes, but perhaps its  a sign of our times, I’m not as impressed by the idea of film as the characters were. It is impressive, it does allow for visual stimulation on an entirely different magnitude than theatre, but at the end of the day, I cannot appreciate it as much as Hugo.

The characterisation is too muddled, pushed aside for the purposes of praising George Melies. There were several scenes where Hugo could have easily told the truth, and not have had his notebook stolen, nor continually been hunted by Sacha Baron Coen. “I wind and maintain the clocks.” Simple little sentence. Papa George was all over the place, being mean then kind in rapid turns.The only character I ever liked was the Station Inspector (Constable?). He was an orphan, injured in the war. A rather sad backstory, but played for comic relief.

The acting and casting however, was impressive. We saw a wide range of actors, from the aforementioned Sacha Baron Coen, to Saruman (he has a name, it isn’t as cool as Saruman), to ostensibly Leonardo DiCaprio.

I have a problem with the clockwork motif, but that is, admittedly, me nitpicking. The automaton was creepy (just staring and staring, with its cold, black, lifeless eyes), and structurally, did not make sense. That key wasn’t attached to anything.

Personally, not a good film, but then again, I’m a cynic.

Week 14: Hugo

Martin Scorsese’s Hugo is a pure masterpiece and deserved all the Oscars and other awards that it received. It is definitely the best movie we have watched in class so far. This film was so heartwarming with a little mystery twisted into the plot. Although at first it seems like a children’s film, the rest of the film proves that wrong. This film captures audiences both young and old.

The 3-D picture makes the scenes so vivid with so much clarity that when the light was shining, I could often see the individual dust particles floating around. Although this is only a minor detail, it is the first I have seen in any film. The lighting was perfect, most of it imitating a bright sunny day. This made the setting seem very natural, and I felt it was very realistic of what a train station in Paris would have looked like. Some may think that the animation in the film takes away from the overall storyline, but I think it is essential to appeal to the magical aspect of the film. The magic, that one boy can change a person’s life and find his true home at the same time.

The themes in this movie such as love, hope, nostalgia, perseverance, and courage all stood out to me. Especially love, because from the beginning of the film we see the developing romances between Madame Emily and Monsieur Frick, Lisette and the Inspector, and later Isabelle and Hugo. This film celebrates nostalgia, and the message that even when we try to escape the past we can never forget it. The flashbacks in the film put the nostalgia into perspective, as we were able to witness the magic of George Méliès’s work and how he had a vision of creating films that captured audience’s imaginations. The way that Hugo persevered to find a way to fix the automotan showed that he never lost hope even when his father died and his uncle abandoned him.


Personally, I did not click with the film Hugo until the end when the plot of the story and all the mystery was revealed. Maybe it was just a terrible tuesday for me, but I immediately disliked almost all the characters except the cute old couple. Hugo annoyed me a little with his actions, as it did not make any sense why he could not have said the notebook was dear to him or just belonging to his family. Papa Georges did not make any sense to me either when he just took a notebook that did not belong to him. Even if his life is in shambles, don’t burn a book of a little kid, thief or not. I also did not understand how Isabelle and Hugo got so close all of a sudden, and why Hugo was not mad at her at first when she promised to protect the notebook. The Station Inspector was just plain annoying. Later on though, I realized that I was probably thinking too much and that each character was in the middle of developing, no matter what age, bringing us to that mental journey of finding “purpose” in the “machine” that is the world.

The film was filmed beautifully, on the other hand. Every aspect of the film enhanced the fantasy-like character of the film. A lot of the times, the movie had a soft fuzzy feel to the camera lighting and effects. When watching the film, it felt like I was watching the world in a snow globe of some kind, as Paris looked so small with the train station glowing and the clock shape the streets made. Also, speaking of Paris, it was a bit out of place for them to be speaking British english to me, or english at all. But overall, it was an experience that I liked for the ending. Not a fan of the movie, but I support it for its artistic aspects.

Week 14 Blog Assignment

Scorcese’s Hugo is a film that reminds viewers of the magic of movies. This fulfilling story is an adventure that engulfs the spectator, and its goal—which it achieves, masterfully—is to reinvigorate that feeling in viewers towards all of cinema.

There are several recurring motifs throughout the film: these include magic, machinery, and ticking clocks and clockwork. Apart from being a major theme (the magic of movies), the motif of magic is present in the story at the very beginning, at the start of Melies’ career; and this torch is passed to Hugo, who presumably goes on to become a magician at the film’s end. The motifs of machinery, grinding gears, and ticking clock work are interspersed throughout, from the film’s beginning in the clock tower, to the automaton, to the film projectors.

Themes include loneliness, its counterpart, companionship, and finding one’s place in the world. Hugo, a lonely orphan, desires companionship and, like many orphans, a family. The automaton is essentially Hugo’s mechanical savior, culminated when the automaton illuminates Hugo’s path, in the form of a drawing of the moon from Melies’ A Trip to the Moon. This drawing is Hugo’s map to a family and to a happy ending—although Melies in the film says happy endings only happen in movies, Scorcese refutes this by ending Hugo’s story happily. (Or is this an assertion of Melies’ statement, since Hugo is itself a film? That is up for interpretation.)

Other characteristics of the film that make it great include its beautiful mise-en-scène and heartfelt, emotionally drawing score. Although some of the intended visuals may be lost in a 2-D viewing of Hugo, its beautiful special effects are nonetheless notable. The somewhat low-key, backlight-heavy lighting also adds to the film’s magical tone. Supplementing the film’s stunning visuals is a heartwarming, extradiegetic musical score that certainly does its job in inviting interest; the film would not feel the same without it.

Hugo is a heartwarming story that is definitely worth the watch. This movie that is an homage to the magic of movies is, in itself, a magical movie.

Week 14 Assignment

Most often, the best films are the ones all too personal. And, as critic Roger Ebert points out, Hugo is probably Martin Scorsese’s most personal reflection of any of his films. Here, Scorsese not only celebrates his art and its colorful history, but also tells a personal tale.

In many ways, an impressionable, young reclusive Scorsese growing up in Little Italy is the story of Hugo: a boy captured by the enigmatic medium. Because of this, it is so easy to see the director’s passion for the subject. For one, Hugo is fundamentally a children’s movie based on a children’s book. Who would have thought that the director of Taxi Driver or Goodfellas had it in him to direct a film targeted towards children (and not just for the pay check, either). Hugo celebrates a protagonist so whiny, unfriendly, and generally annoying, it is no wonder as to why it did not do well in theaters. But the boy is so close to Scorsese’s heart that Hugo could not have been any other way. He is driven by pure wonderment, curiosity, and ambition, the same that drove Scorsese to where he is today.

Scorsese’s sense of nostalgia and inborn responsibility to cultivate people on early cinema is also clearly dear to his heart. There are many montages with the sole purpose of explaining the medium’s beginnings. Such exposition interrupts the narration in order to grasp our attention. It is almost as if he is using the “cuteness” of the story to draw us in and enlighten us. His integration of new special effects and classic techniques also work to show us the influence a person like Melies has had on modern day cinema. As said in the article, much of the color schemes are similar to those attempted in early cinema. By pairing such schemes with the film’s intended 3D, the integration is obvious. Several scenes also depict early special effects, such as the opening superimposition of machine gears over the Arc de Triomphe, and the scene involving the footsteps seemingly stomping on Isabelle’s face. Such double exposures are a very early in-camera special effect. Finally, much of the comedy elements reminisce silent film humor including Melies shorts, and the works of Keaton and Chaplin. The gags involving the inspector either crushing instruments or getting his leg caught on the train car is quite old-fashioned humor.

Scorsese’s heart for these subjects shines through, making Hugo both fun and enlightening for all ages.

Week 14 Blog Assignment

While I felt there were some elements of the movie that took away from it overall, I was really impressed by Hugo! I thought it was going to more like The Polar Express, with the animated people that look somewhat real (I don’t know why, but I really dislike that sort of animation), but I was surprised to find that the animation was not the major selling point of this film.
I felt like there was a little too much going on in this movie. First, the man/machine theme was established, but it was never really resolved in a way that comments on man’s relationship with technology. Then, introducing Hugo’s love of movies, which is such a central part to the plot, about an hour into the movie was an awkward choice. Because the film’s major conflict is to help Papa Georges realize that his own film career has not been forgotten, it was unusual to me that Hugo’s part in resolving that conflict wasn’t introduced until halfway through the movie. Prior to Hugo and Isabelle going to the theater to see the movie, one cannot really tell that the movie has anything to do with film history at all. Maybe all of these things are deliberate, though; maybe, the point was to pose questions that don’t always have clear answers and outcomes.
Other than the fact that the film was going in a few too many directions, I loved it. I felt that because we started the semester off talking about Méliès and his influence on the history of film, it was super appropriate for us to watch a film celebrating his career near the end of the semester. Also, almost all of the themes that show up in Hugo have shown up in other films we’ve watched, such as time, man/machine, and youth and innocence. Watching this movie late in the semester makes it feel like we’ve come full circle: it reminds me how much I’ve learned and how much more I now get out of watching a film.