Books Into Movies

Hugo The Movie and A Companion Book

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We greatly anticipated Hugo the movie which is based on one of our favorite books “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”. Usually when something is so highly anticipated there is a bit of a let down but I can assure you that with Hugo this isn’t the case. We chose to see it in 3-D, which I highly recommend. Martin Scorsese shot the entire film in 3-D, his first. The actors and settings seem so close and clear and gives that absolute impression that we are inside the film living it along with the characters of this lovely story.

From the Publisher:

In 1931, Hugo Cabret, a young boy whose mother has died, lives with his father, a master clockmaker in Paris. Hugo’s father takes him to see films and loves the films ofGeorges Méliès best of all. Hugo’s father dies in a museum fire, and Hugo is taken away by his uncle, an alcoholic watchmaker who is responsible for maintaining the clocks in the railway station. His uncle teaches him to take care of the clocks, then disappears. Hugo lives between the walls of the station, maintaining the clocks, stealing food and working on his father’s most ambitious project: repairing a broken automaton — a mechanical man who is supposed to write with a pen. Hugo steals mechanical parts in the station to repair the automaton, but he is caught by a toy store owner who takes away Hugo’s blueprints for the automaton. The automaton is missing one part — a heart–shaped key. Convinced that the automaton contains a message from his father, Hugo goes to desperate lengths to fix the machine. He gains the assistance of Isabelle, a girl close to his age and the goddaughter of the toy shop owner. He introduces Isabelle to the movies, which her godfather has never let her see. Isabelle turns out to have the key to the automaton. When they use the key to activate the automaton, it produces a drawing of a film scene Hugo remembers his father telling him about. They discover that the film was created by Georges Méliès, Isabelle’s godfather, an early — but now neglected and disillusioned — cinema legend, and that the automaton was a beloved creation of his from his days as a magician. In the end, the children reconnect Georges with his past and with a new generation of cinema aficionados which has come to appreciate his work.

Martin Scorsese built the story and connected the characters around the mechanical aspects. For Hugo that meant the clockworks of the station and the automaton which connected him to his father.


For George Melies it meant the cameras, projectors, and automatons that connected himself with his past but also into the future with the discovery of the automaton by Hugo and his father. Through these mechanical connections both Hugo and George participated in restoring the past to create the future.

One of the great features of this film is diving deeper into the story of George Melies. Woven within the story is the reconstruction of Melies as a film-maker. It was so wonderful to see clips of his movies and the incredible process he went through to get his finished results. He was a pioneer and definitely a man ahead of his time.

Wanting to know more about how the movie was constructed and how this inventive story was crafted, I turned to The Hugo Movie Companion: A Behind the Scenes Look at How a Beloved Book Became a Major Motion Picture By Brian Selznick. Inside the pages of this wonderfully crafted book, one learns not only of the movie magic of Hugo but the real life story of George Melies. Just like all of Brain’s books this one is well researched and easy to read for children and families. I was amazed to discover that so much of Hugo and The Invention of Hugo Cabret was based on fact. George Melies did in fact raise his god-daughter. He did love automatons and he did have a house built of glass to film his movies in.

Just like the story, George Melies, after WWI no longer had an audience who enjoyed his movies. He closed shop, destroyed his films, turning them into chemicals for shoe heels and opened a toy shop at the Montparnasse Train Station. Just like in the books and movie, in the end many of his films were found, restored, and George Melies received accolades as the father of modern movies.

I highly recommend this movie. It was such a hit in my family that some of us have seen it 3 different times. Both the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret  and the movie Hugo stand completely on there own, each one bringing a different perspective to the same story.

We’d love to know if you’ve seen it and what you thought.  Enjoy and see you next time.

2 thoughts on “Hugo The Movie and A Companion Book

  1. Great review! Could you please tell me what age you think this movie (and book) are suitable for? My son (Hugo!) is only 3, and has never seen a movie (or DVD of a film) yet. My mother in law wanted to take him to see this one, but I said no as he is too young. Assumed the film would be good for 7 or 8 years and up?? Thanks. 🙂

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