Monday, November 28, 2011

Clockworks, Automata and the Silents – the magic of Hugo!

A dazzling array of gears dissolved into the streets of Paris, and a single gear turned magically into a roundabout, and just like that for me Hugo went from the realm of near animation to reality. The teeming Gare Montparnasse is well endowed with clocks that all keep working on precisely oiled and turned gears. Making them keep perfect time is an orphaned boy called Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield), who lives in the forgotten spaces between the walls of the train station. Hugo’s father (Jude Law), a clock-maker and museum employee, is dead, and his guardian, a drunk uncle who is responsible for keeping the station clocks running, has been gone for days. Between stealing a meager daily meal, avoiding the lame station agent Gustav (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his ferocious doberman who are constantly on the lookout for vagrant orphan boys, stealing clockwork parts from the toy stall owner Papa Georges (Ben Kingsley), and keeping the innumerable near inaccessible clocks running, Hugo leads a busy life. But it does have a singular purpose – that of fixing an automaton his father had found in the museum. The automaton is child size, extremely wide-eyes, metallic, and is supposed to be able to write and draw when fully functioning. Hugo is helped by Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz), the adopted daughter of Papa Goerges and Mama Jeanne (Helen McCrory), and in turn Hugo introduces her to the movies, particularly those of George Melies.

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