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File:Hugo-poster 3787.jpg

Hugo is the first family film directed by Martin Scorsese, written by John Logan and produced by Johnny Depp. It is based on the Caldecott Medal-winning children's novel The Invention Of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, grand-nephew of legendary film producer David O Selznick. It stars Asa Butterfield as an orphan boy who lives in a train station in 1930s Paris and whose only companion is an automaton discovered by his late father. He devotes his life to making sure the clocks run on time and to gradually repairing the automaton, under the belief that the message it is designed to write is a message from his father.

One day, he gets caught stealing a toy from Papa Georges (Sir Ben Kingsley), a melancholy man who runs a toystore inside the station. He finds the notebook Hugo carries containing drawings of the automaton by his father. Papa Georges takes the notebook, threatening to burn it. With the help of Papa Georges' goddaughter Isabelle (Chloe Moretz), Hugo tries to get the notebook back and use it to discover the secret of the automaton. Along the way, he discovers the secret of Papa Georges, including his real name.

Also starring Sacha Baron Cohen, Christopher Lee, Jude Law, Helen McCrory, Ray Winstone, and Michael Stuhlbarg, it is notable for being Scorsese's first family film and the first movie he made in 3D. It is considered Scorsese's love letter to silent cinema.

Brian Selznick also wrote a companion book to the film, The Hugo Movie Companion, about how his novel was adapted to the screen. By all accounts, he is very pleased with the result, calling it "the most beautiful thing that I've ever seen." The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences evidently agreed with Selznick, awarding the film five technical Oscars for art direction, cinematography, visual effects, and sound editing and mixing.

Not to be confused with the Hugo video game series.

Tropes used in Hugo include:


  • 3D Movie
  • Academy Awards: The movie was nominated for eleven and won five Academy Awards: Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Visual Effects.
  • Adaptation Distillation / Adaptation Expansion: Some parts of the book were streamlined and others were expanded to better suit it to the screen.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: The Station Inspector, who is a straight-up villain in the original novel.
  • Adult Fear:
    • You die, and your child ends up first with an abusive alcoholic and then completely alone.
    • Your whole life had been meaningless, your lifework had been destroyed and everyone has forgotten you.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees:
    • Automatons, clockwork robots that could perform pre-determined feats, have existed since the 16th century. Cruder automatons powered by levers and wind existed before that.
    • Color movies during the silent era of filmmaking. As explained in the film, the filmmakers hand-colored each frame by hand. Actual color photography was possible even before this era, but it would have been impractically difficult to create an entire film this way.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Hugo's crimes are listed as: "Trespass, theft, pilfering, littering... mmmmlering... walking about... playing..."
    • The Redbox version renders that mumbled word as "pillorying" which is a rather odd crime to charge a child with...
  • Artistic License History: According to The Other Wiki, sets and costumes for Méliès' movies were painted in shades of gray (not in their natural colors, as depicted) to avoid unpredictable tones in black-and-white film. The film did flip two things from Georges Méliès' life. In reality, he burned his films and sold his props. The film shows it happening the other way around.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Rene Tabard to Georges Méliès.
  • Author Appeal: All of the talk of the importance of early film and its preservation is pretty much Scorsese himself speaking to you. Michael Stuhlbarg even grew out his eyebrows for his character in tribute to him.
  • Based on a True Story: Sort of. The character of Hugo is entirely fictional, but the life of Georges Méliès as presented in the film is pretty accurate.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When Hugo is going to be run over by an approaching train the Station Inspector pulls him off of the tracks just in time.
  • Bookworm: Isabelle.
  • Broken Bird: Several, all of whom Hugo manages to fix by the end of the movie.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Hugo Cabret is half-English (his mother is mentioned as being from Coventry).
  • The Cameo: several:
    • Michael Pitt as a projectionist
    • Creator Cameo: Martin Scorsese himself appears as a photographer during the flashback sequence, and Brian Selznick (who wrote the book) appears as a student in the party sequence near the end.
    • In-Universe, Georges Méliès in many of his films.
    • Real Life Relative: The daughters of Scorsese and assistant director Chris Surgent appear during the tea dance sequence, Ben Kingsley's son plays a cameraman, and the daughter of Producer Graham King appears at the party near the end.
  • Catapult Nightmare: When Hugo suffers his Dream Within a Dream.
  • Children Are Innocent
  • Clock Punk: The massive station clocktower, Papa George's clockwork toys, Hugo's old home filled with clockwork, the clockwork automaton, and the clockwork leg brace. The heavy use of fantastical clockwork can make one forget that the film is supposed to be set in a fairly realistic 1931 rather than a Victorian sci-fi setting.
  • Color Wash: As in-universe Aluminium Christmas Trees: clips of old silent movies played in the film were hand-coloured, creating a dreamy, phantasmagoric atmosphere.
  • Costume Porn
  • Cool Train: Since the movie takes place in a busy station, there's a train visible or railroad noise in the background of almost every scene.
  • Covered in Gunge: Oh dear, the Station Inspector is about to slide into a gigantic cake. Then promptly subverted, as he winds up crashing into the band instead.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best
  • Dream Within a Dream/Dreaming of Things to Come: Hugo is having a nightmare where he gets killed by a train, which then derails and crashes through the station window. He has a false awakening in where he turns into the automaton. Then he wakes up for real. Later in the film, Hugo jumps in front of an approaching train, after he drops the automaton onto the tracks. The train crew reacts exactly as they did in the dream, but the Station Inspector pulls Hugo off of the tracks, and the train doesn't crash.
  • Early Films: The movie's all about it.
  • The Edwardian Era: The flashback scenes take place here and in the very late Victorian era. The story proper takes place in 1931.
  • Evil Cripple: Played with where the Station Inspector is concerned - his bad leg is treated as one of his biggest humanizing elements.
  • Fake Nationality: All the major characters are French and played by British or American actors. Chloe Moretz and Michael Stuhlbarg hit the Fake Nationality triple play, as Americans playing French characters with a British accent.
  • Gay Paree
  • Genre Busting: A bizarre Biopic of a famous silent-era film director full of Steampunk elements, Street Urchin adventure tropes, and highbrow references for cinephiles and art majors.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • Gustav has several conversations with a policeman who believes his wife is pregnant with another man's child. Gustav even asks the man about the last time he had relations with his wife.
    • When Gustav yells at an orphan about his "filthy mitts," the policeman takes offense, thinking Gustav is making disparaging comments about his wife.
    • Gustav's nervous first conversation with flower girl Lisette includes references to cows with perfectly formed udders (made while cupping his hands in front of his own chest).
    • At the end of the movie Gustav remarks that he is a "fully functioning man" and asks his girlfriend for corroboration.
  • Groin Attack: The Station Inspector's crotch runs into some luggage while he's being dragged by the train.
  • Happily Adopted: Isabelle, by her Godparents, Papa Georges and Mama Jeanne. And in the finale, Hugo by them as well.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Papa Georges: Actually Georges Méliès, acclaimed film director from the silent movie era, who has lived for decades with the heartbreak of believing that his life's work is all gone and meant nothing.
    • The Station Inspector: His leg was crippled in World War I, and beneath his stern, relentless persona is a lonely man who is harsh on orphans because it reminds him of the pain of being one himself.
  • Historical Domain Character:
    • Georges Méliès
    • James Joyce, Django Reinhardt and Salvador Dalí appear in the background.
  • Holding Hands: Hugo gives Isabelle's hand a squeeze when she's worried about Papa Georges.
  • Hot Dad: Hugo's father in the movie is played by Jude Law.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: The Station Inspector.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Hugo.
  • Innocent Flower Girl: Lisette, who sells flowers in the train station.
  • Inspector Javert: The Station Inspector that Hugo spends the entire film hiding from. By the end, though, he's taken a level in kindness.
  • Left the Background Music On: A few of the scenes in the station had their music provided by a band in a restaurant, most notably the first chase scene between Hugo and the Station Inspector.
  • Mood Whiplash: The Station Inspector's initial conversation with Lisette is played for broad laughs, until his leg brace suddenly locks up again. Cue the very not-funny revelation that his leg was badly injured in fighting during World War One, which is the first sign of his Hidden Depths.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
  • Nightmare Sequence: Hugo gets hit with two of them back-to-back. One involving him getting hit by a train and the other where he turns into an Automaton. It's a little...jarring.
  • Orange-Blue Contrast: Very much so.
  • Orphan's Ordeal
  • Pick a Card: After Papa Georges starts teaching Hugo card tricks, he's shown practicing in his room, holding up a card to the automaton and asking, "Is this your card?"
  • Puppy Dog Eyes: Hugo.
  • The Queen's Latin: The entire cast speaks with British accents despite all of the characters being French. The actual French that they do speak, however, is spoken with a French accent. All of the written text is also in French.
  • Scenery Porn: Everything looks fantastic, particularly the train station.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Bookworm Isabelle clearly enjoys trotting out ten-dollar words. She compliments Hugo when he lets loose with one of his own.
  • Shout-Out: Many to classic silent films.
    • Hugo hanging off of the clock hands is a shout out to Safety Last by Harold Lloyd, which is also the film that the two kids sneak into the theater to view.
    • Hugo's nightmare about the train crash recreates a famous 1895 photograph of a train that had crashed through the back of Paris' Gare Montparnasse (the very station in which the film takes place).
    • If seen in 3D, the train scene is also a shout to the first film ever made, a train pulls into a station with the train coming towards the camera, which is also featured in the film.
    • Isabelle references Sydney Carton, Heathcliff and Jean Valjean.
  • Sidelong Glance Biopic: Though a bit more fictionalized than most. See Based on a True Story above.
  • Small Secluded World: The train station.
  • Steampunk
  • Stop Trick: The real Méliès' main special effect. In-universe a flashback scene demonstrates how it was done.
  • The Thirties
  • This Is Reality: Papa Georges tells Hugo that life has taught him happy endings only happen in movies.
  • Translation Convention: The film is set in France, but most of the cast speaks English with a British accent.
  • The Un-Smile: The Inspector pulls one when trying to speak with the florist he has a crush on. At the end of the film, after they've gotten together, he claims to have "mastered three of them."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • At the end of the movie, even though Papa Georges and Hugo have developed a close relationship, the notebook that Georges took from Hugo never turns back up. This is an artifact of adaptation compression; in the book, Isabelle does manage to find it.
    • We never find out what happened to the policeman's marriage.
  • World War I: Part of the Station Inspector's backstory. Also Papa Méliès' background... until it turns out he's not really dead.
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