thu 30/05/2024

DVD: Hugo | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Hugo

DVD: Hugo

Martin Scorsese's tribute to a pioneer comes up slightly short in small-screen 2D

Likes clockwork: Asa Butterfield as Hugo Cabret

It’s not hugely to the advantage of Hugo that its release on disc opens with a trailer for The Artist. The two homages to cinema’s silent age slugged it out for supremacy at this year’s Academy Awards.

Where Martin Scorsese’s first foray into both 3D and children’s narrative justly cleaned up in all the technical categories, on the small screen there is less disguising the frailties of a redemptive story adapted from Brian Selznick’s breezeblock novel.

Hugo Cabret’s clockwork lair remains a sumptuous visual treat, as is the bustling world of the Parisian station whose timepieces he secretly keeps running. But if you happen not to be watching through children’s eyes, there’s less to sink your teeth into than meets the eye. Once you’ve stripped away the astonishing effects, the modernish fairy tale of a boy (Asa Butterfield) whose quest is to restore the reputation of pioneering film-maker Georges Méliès feels slight and even a little manipulative.

The true heart of the film is in Scorsese’s painstaking reconstruction of the filming methods of Méliès (Ben Kingsley), back in the pre-CGI days when film-makers were reliant solely on blood, sweat and sheer ingenuity. The tribute continues in the excellent set of extras, the centrepiece of which is a documentary on Méliès. No surprise to discover that of all the people who makes no effort to pronounce his name correctly, it’s the English producer financing this megabuck spectacular. There is also a mini-feature on filming the spectacular dream-sequence locomotive crash, and a nice little history of man’s fascination with the automaton going back to classical times. The face of the automaton in Hugo is based, we learn, on the Mona Lisa. There’s also a lovely interview with Sacha Baron Cohen, who plays the child-catching stationmaster in the film and in the extras plays a grand actor from the awkward squad who is always at war with his director. A little more of that mischief and a little less cinematic piety would have gone a long way.

Watch the trailer for Hugo

The true heart of the film is in Scorsese’s painstaking reconstruction of the filming methods of Méliès


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters