June 20, 2013
Written by Mark Schumann, Father of Three
Thursday, 15 December 2011 11:23
Each week, the Reel Dad checks the nutritional value of a movie — new or classic — to help parents choose what to watch. This week’s pick is a new film from Martin Scorsese, Hugo.Leave it to master moviemaker Martin Scorsese to create the ultimate reason to see a movie in 3-D. With his magical screen translation of Hugo, the director justifies the excitement in the movie industry about this new technology and creates a marvelous entertainment for the entire family.
Based on the novel by Brian Selznick, Hugo takes us to a massive train station in Paris in the 1930s where a young boy tends the operations of clocks as both his job and passion. Because his father unexpectedly died, and his uncle is irresponsible, the boy must hide from the police among the clocks and catwalks at the station. He becomes both resourceful about his life and determined to repair machines with moving parts, especially an object his father once brought home from a museum. Little does the boy know that his passion will lead him to the life of master French filmmaker Georges Melies.
The story is a lovely opportunity to celebrate a young man’s curiosity for the worlds he understands as well as the ones he’s yet to discover. This boy’s persistence and spirit endear him to many, including the goddaughter of a man who will play a significant role in his life. And the film offers a positive moral of the importance of pursuing a passion to give a life a sense of purpose.
The real story about Hugo is what Scorsese creates. Visually, the film is a wonder. Never, in the recent use of 3-D in Hollywood, has a director acted with such confidence in how the added dimension can enhance a story. Rather than take a two-dimensional experience and “add on” 3-D tricks, Scorsese conceives the film with its full visual potential in mind. As his camera explores the train station, we are engulfed in the self-contained world of this magnificent facility. As the boy tries to escape from the police, Scorsese turns the chase into a three-dimensional run through the station. And, as the young boy travels his wonderful behind-the-scenes world of clocks throughout the building, Scorsese serves an incredible feast of visual delight. Always a most inventive director, there is no surprise that Scorsese would be the first to master how 3-D can enhance the film experience. What is surprising is that he would do this with a family film, not a genre he usually explores.
Adding to the appeal of Hugo, for Scorsese and for us, is how the film addresses the importance of preserving historical films. Certainly, with a major character being a filmmaker, this is a natural extension of the narrative. And Scorsese, an advocate for film preservation, reminds us of the importance of the issue.
Everyone in the family will enjoy Hugo, for its story, characters and visual excitement. For those who truly love movies — of any age — the film is a delightful adventure in what films can be as it pays tribute to one of the great, early visionaries who believed cinema could capture anything.
• Content: High. At its core is a lovely tale of a young boy’s love for his deceased father, his curiosity about how machines work, and his where-with-all to take care of himself.
• Entertainment: High. Visually, this is one of the most thrilling entertainments in years and the first Hollywood film to capitalize on the potential of 3-D.
• Message: High. As exciting as the film is visually, it also serves a marvelous moral about kindness, as well as addresses the importance of film preservation.
• Relevance: High. Any opportunity for a family to enjoy a film together is relevant.
• Opportunity for Dialogue: High. After you share this film, you will find so many things to talk about, from the beauty of the visuals to the meaning of the story.
(Hugo is rated PG for thematic material, some action/peril and smoking. The film runs 130 minutes.)
5 Popcorn Buckets
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