Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse.
Hugo is an orphan boy living in the walls of a train station in 1930s Paris. He learned to fix clocks and other gadgets from his father and uncle which he puts to use keeping the train station clocks running. The only thing that he has left that connects him to his dead father is an automaton (mechanical man) that doesn't work without a special key. Hugo needs to find the key to unlock the secret he believes it contains. On his adventures, he meets George Melies, a shopkeeper, who works in the train station, and his adventure-seeking god-daughter. Hugo finds that they have a surprising connection to his father and the automaton, and he discovers it unlocks some memories the old man has buried inside regarding his past.Written by
A fantasy, a children's dream, and a very adult appreciation of a brilliant filmmaker
This would have been my vote for Best Picture for 2011, especially if you limit the voting to nostalgic visions of silver screen history. This sort of does exactly what "The Artist" does, paying loving homage to early movies, "Hugo" is so much more imaginative, filmed with overflowing ingenuity and fluidity (it is a Scorsese movie I know), and it pays respects more directly and beautifully.
Yes, this really is a love letter to the first decade of mature movies before "Birth of a Nation" and full feature films. Here we rediscover the short cinematic (very cinematic) inventions of French filmmaker Georges Melies. Never heard of him? Well, that's why you should see this movie. At times it almost plays like a fabulous documentary (to its detriment as a movie, but to the benefit of Melies), so you do learn quite a lot about this man. And it's mostly accurate. Things that get stretched for the sake of the movie are reasonable enough.
(By the way, a little known reference to Melies, charming and beautifully done, occurs in the otherwise flawed "Klimt" and is worth watching just for those scenes.)
There is a feeling that this is a children's adventure, but even more than "Where the Wild Things Are," this is a movie for adults, and kind of about adults, too. The two leading kids--a girl and a boy--are terrific but in that child actor way where they fill their roles perfectly (not like, say, the slightly older Judy Garland in "Wizard of Oz"). The adults are not quite caricatures, and make the film have a lot of depth, but they are kept in check by the children's storytelling aspect to the whole enterprise.
Whatever the limitations there, it's the filming, the sets and costumes and moving camera and special effects, always kept in check, that make the movie special. If you are interested in the also-rans of the Oscar season, this is the first to see. If you want to just have an enjoyable bit of escapist and light hearted filmmaking, this is a must. And if you are curious about Melies, there is no better place to start.
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