Film about Films – An analysis of Martin Scorsese’s ‘Hugo’


Often times we take movies for granted. We watch films based on our moods. Topics are always centered about the audience. What they want to tell. But what about the film-makers? What are the stories they want to tell the world?

Making a film about a film — an incredible idea made by Martin Scorsese in directing and producing “Hugo”. It is the first 3D movie presented in 2011. Out of all the movies he has done, this might be the closest to his heart because this is a story of each film and movie makers. This is also quite different from his other movies for it tackles ‘family orientation’.

Starring Asa Butterfield ( Hugo Cabret) , Chloe Moretz (Stacey), and  Ben Kingsley (George Melies), Hugo is about different persons whose life changed when Hugo came into the picture. Hugo is an orphan who lives behind the giant clocks at the train station. He works in his uncle, managing the clocks and he snatches food. He spend his time fixing automaton, a wind up figure like a music box found by his late father at a museum. He came into Mr. Melies’ life, an old man who owns a toy store, when his loved notebook was confiscated after he’s been accused of thief. The station inspector on the train station, who broke his leg during the war,has also gave him a hard time doing what he planned to do. He then met Stacey, Mr. Melies’ granddaughter who helped Hugo get his notebook back. Together, they discovered Mr. Melies’ life before as a famous director, whom because of World War, has left forgotten.

Hugo used aerial shot at the first scene emphasizing the beauty of Paris. It slowly zooms in to the train station where sophisticated people are shown having fun, then behind the number of the clocks, inside the dark room, an eyes of Hugo watching Mr. Melies was seen. Behind the huge Eiffel tower and the busy people around the train station, there lies a homeless boy.

Who would want to have a damaged machine? Who would spend his time… even sacrifice his life for an old and rusty machine? Well, Hugo does. The reason why the automaton is just that important to Hugo that he would do anything to fix it, including working for Mr. Melies just to get his notebook, is because it is the only memory he has from his father. The automaton makes him feel safe and warm. And even if he’s alone, he does not feel so alone.

The continuous shots of the clocks and the automaton describes the change that happens as time passes by. This is related to the world war which destroyed people’s morality. Like the automaton, old and rusty, people back then were damaged deeply because of the trauma they had experienced. Before war, automaton was used for entertainment. But after the tragedy that happened, he was left at the museum, unwanted — except Hugo’s father of course, who was really fund of watching Melies’ works. When movie was introduced, people were watching to escape reality. Mr. Melies’ inspiration in creating his own movie are the women who ducked while watching a train going to their direction as if it will really hit them.The fun that the people experience back then was bizarre. But after war, they lost the interest in watching films because they saw too much of reality which consumed their happiness. Everything became dark, explaining why the German movie themes after war constitute darkness and sorrow. The station inspector, who broke his leg during the war shows the damage that remains with him forever. That’s why Hugo and Lisette came in to their life. Everyone affects each other’s lives because everyone has his own purpose. And like what Hugo said, “if you don’t know your purpose, it’s like your broken”. Even the machine has its purpose, but like the clocks, someone has to continuously fix the damaged parts because people are not perfect, we cannot live on our own. We affect each people’s lives. The heart-shaped keyhole  and the parts of the human-like automaton consisting major of clock parts shows the importance of time to people. Anything can happen in seconds and anything can change any time. Mr. Meiles was trying to run away from the memory of the past because remembering them causes him pain. Hugo came to him as a blessing because you can’t really turn  away from yesterday without being able to face them.

As time goes by, and automaton  was already fixed, everything slowly comes into order. Hugo and Stacey is beginning to discover the reason behind Mr. Meiles’ pain, and the station inspector slowly overcoming his fear of approaching and getting to know the girl on the flower shop.

Scorsese was brilliant in making a story about his passion and profession. He even stressed out the importance of acknowledging and giving recognition to the film makers. Just when Mr. Meliese thought that he’s no longer relevant to the modern period, Rene Tabard, his loyal fan came along. Rene has shown Mr. Meliese that he was not totally forgotten and that he continued to inspire other people like him with all the films he has created. Because his pain was not all about the money and business he had lost during the war. Moreover, it is about the feeling of being forgotten and left behind after all his hard works and perseverance in creating good movies. During the ceremony prepared for Mr. Meliese,    his eyes were full of happiness. You can see the overwhelming feeling he has seeing the fruits of his labor being shown to hundreds of people.

One might say that the movie revolves around the story of a boy whose trying to find answers towards his father’s death. But watching the movie, it seems like each characters where given the limelight to show their individual development through the help of each. Through Hugo, Stacey experienced movies, “adventure” as they say and she was able to understand why his grandpa never let her watch movies. While Stacey gave something that can’t be replaced by any material things; frienship. Through madame Emily, the station inspector was able to approach Lisette, and through Lisette, he was able to find happiness despite of the condition of his legs. Mr. Meniese has become positive and was able to face the past. And through Mr. Meniese, Hugo found a home.

What’s best about this movie is that it shares the history of the film-makers and the film itself. Now people has digital cameras, green screen, blue screens, graphics,…for short, we are in a more-advanced technology which makes it a lot easier for the film-makers and actors in bringing the story in action. Unlike in the past, they take a lot of effort and patience to perfect a movie. While showing the difference of before and now, the audience get to appreciate the film-makers who was behind the development of film. They does deserve a tribute because without them, life would be so boring.


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