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Hugo | Movie Review


After winning two Academy Awards, Hugo certainly deserves to be in people’s must-watch movie list, or at My Must-Watch Movie List. Having watched the movie several hours ago, now I think that, at least, a glimpse of film history to fully understand what the movie means is somewhat needed. And I was like, “I wish I knew [those film history thingies] before watching it.”

Hugo - Wallpaper
Hugo simply tells about an orphan boy named Hugo (Asa Butterfield), who lives inside walls of a train station at the 1930s Paris, “working” as the station clocks’ winder. He initially lives there with his harsh uncle after his father, a museum curator, dies in a fire.

Hugo inherits the spirit of his deceased father to fix things. He still keeps one of his father’s dreams alive – fixing an automaton, a mechanic-human-figure doll that can write and draw.

In order to fix the automaton, Hugo needs to steal some mechanical parts from a toy store which belonged to George Méliès (Ben Kingsley) in the train station. Then, his intention to try to fix the automaton leads Hugo to an unimaginable journey for him.

In 126 minutes, Hugo can land various post-watching effects on its viewers. Those who understand film history – filmmakers and film critics – will find Hugo as a masterpiece of Martin Scorsese. Meanwhile, those who are moviegoers will find Hugo as great movies even though they cannot really grasp what the movie director wants its audience to experience after watching the movie. Simply, it is because ordinary moviegoers lack film history knowledge. They cannot really experience what filmmakers and film critics feel when watching the movie. I can say that these two groups of "movie viewers" are not in the same ground at comprehending the film.

Then, does one need to understand film history before watching Hugo? If you ask me that, I will say “no”. If you only want to look for entertainment, then just go and watch it.

Hugo and George Méliès [from: csmonitor]   

I am included in ordinary moviegoer community. I lack understanding of film history. However, I still can enjoy the movie. The story is great. The movie plot is simple; it does not need a critical thinking to watch the movie. The pictures are absolutely great – try to watch the 3D version, marvelous. Some of the dialogues are also witty. Some scenes are also really funny. The point is the movie entertains me.

But trying to understand the movie deeper, the movie surely offers its viewers with profound message. I personally like the message that “everything in this world is created with a purpose.” 

Then, in what part is the knowledge of the film history accountable?

An understanding of film history is only needed if you want to cinematically appreciate Hugo. You will need that knowledge if you want to consider Hugo as a cinema (a work of art) not a movie (commercially made movie). Why so?

The movie does pay tribute for earliest movies ever made. It also specifically pays tribute to George Méliès (try to Google his name and figure out yourself what to expect when watching the movie).

That is why, my film critic friend, Corry Elyda, totally has different interpretation of the movie (which I will not share here for I will infringe her “right”). I believe that filmmaker and film critic community will share the same vision as her.

In the end, I will still rate the movie as one of the must watch movie. It deserves to have 8 of 10 stars. It is a movie both for film community and layman. Bravo Martin Scorsese!

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