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Why You Should Care About Hugo, AKA The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Consider the Following

It seems there may be a lot of people out there confused as to why Martin Scorsese, of all people, would be interested in a seemingly simple, familiar story about an orphaned boy living in a train station, and the magical mystery of his clockmaker father’s automaton.

And the answer is pretty easy: there’s more to the story.

Hugo, trailer above, is based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret, a book of historical fiction written by Brian Selznick and purchased for me when I was in college because someone I knew had read that it was a novel that played around with sequential graphic storytelling, which, when you unpack the words that hoity-toity-book reviewers use to keep their high-brow reputations, means that a number of scenes in the story were told through the format of silent sequential images, aka, comics. There were too many images, and they were too much a part of understanding the story, to call it an “illustrated” novel, but the prose still did the bulk of the communicating, so “graphic novel” didn’t really fit either, and the structure was indeed, very interesting.

Which makes a certain amount of sense when you get to the end of the story and realize that the whole thing hasn’t, so much, been about a boy meeting a girl and going on an adventure, but rather the birth of cinema. The plot winds up being heavily tied up in the actual historical experiences of George Méliés (played by Sir Ben Kinglsey in Hugo), who was a titan of early film (most famously for Le Voyage dans la lune) but at the end of his life was mostly penniless and working in a toyshop in a Paris train station. The medium of prose, after all, can only go so far towards describing the experience of film, and when the illustrated parts of The Invention of Hugo Cabret get around to intersecting with it’s historical subject for the first time, suddenly recognizing the iconic images of Le Voyage is very surreal moment.


Listen, at the very least, take a small child with you to the theater and teach it use the word “automaton.”

(via Digital Spy.)

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Susana Polo thought she'd get her Creative Writing degree from Oberlin, work a crap job, and fake it until she made it into comics. Instead she stumbled into a great job: founding and running this very website (she's Editor at Large now, very fancy). She's spoken at events like Geek Girl Con, New York Comic Con, and Comic Book City Con, wants to get a Batwoman tattoo and write a graphic novel, and one of her canine teeth is in backwards.