Faced with the opportunity to see Jennifer Aniston frolic in a commune or former Navy SEALs “act” while shooting live ammunition, I chose to see “Hugo,” a movie that has been in the theatres for three months. I chose wisely.
Set in Paris in the 1920s, primarily in the Metropolitan train station, the movie is played through the expressive eyes of Hugo (Asa Butterfield).
Hugo is a young orphan who lives alone and unnoticed in the catacombs of the train station. There, he deftly works the ladders and catwalks high above the crowds as he meticulously winds, oils and maintains all of the station clocks.
Hugo has inherited from his father delicate watchmaking skills. His father also left behind an automaton, a robotic man-machine made from small machine parts. Repairing the automaton is Hugo’s quest. That quest leads him to a local merchant (Ben Kingsley) whose toys Hugo needs for repair parts.
Despite his efforts, Hugo still needs a key to operate his amazing machine. The key not only animates the automaton; its discovery is the start of Hugo’s own recovery. The key also opens insights that lead to Martin Scorcese’s affectionate homage to the earliest days of film.
“Hugo” is a beautiful film for the depth and cleverness of its sets and for the fullness of its sound.
There are moving wheels, gears, cams, and counter-weights of all sizes galore, whirring and ticking simultaneously with trains coming and going and the crowd buzzing in the background. Watching this young boy face – and overcome – his loneliness is at once a sad, compelling, tense, and, ultimately, very satisfying story.
It is about new hope, second chances, rebirth and reconstruction, love and camaraderie. I strongly recommend it.
Jim Wigge is a Cazenovia resident and film-aficionado. After retiring from his career as an engineer, he has been reviewing movies for the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached through the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.