Tuesday, November 22, 2011
We just went to see the NY premiere of Martin Scorcese's HUGO (Academy member perk!) and I have to say, it's a beautiful film. Watching it was a little bittersweet for me though, having been briefly involved with another film version of the same story a couple of years ago. That one was to be directed by a good friend of mine but for reasons I may never know, it was not to be. And while I am certain his Hugo have been absolutely wonderful, I have to hope the very best for Scorcese's. It's a children's film that doesn't pander to current trends in this genre. No sidekicks, wisecracks or fart jokes. Magic and Wonder serve just fine here.
HUGO is also a love letter to cinema and it's easy to see why Scorcese was drawn to it. At the story's center, is the early twentieth century film pioneer, George Melies, who is credited with being the first director to recognize the inherent power of film to create truly fantastic imagery. The image of a rocket crashing into the eye of the man in the moon from his "A Trip to the Moon" is one of the most famous icons in cinema history.
My job on the unfilmed version version of Hugo Cabret was to design the automaton in the story; a nineteenth century mechanical man made of metal and clockwork and magic.
By the way, before running out to see the film, first do yourself a favor and get the original story written and illustrated by Brian Selznick. It's a gorgeous and unique hybrid of text and illustration which in itself is a very cinematic experience. Not a novel or a graphic novel-- but something in between.
And finally, if you want to learn more about George Melies and the restoration of a recently rediscovered color print of Melie's "A Trip to the Moon" take a look at Serge Bromberg's fascinating documentary, The Extraordinary Voyage.