What? The guy behind Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and The Departed did a family film?
I’m sure I’m not the only Martin Scorsese fan who thought that very thing 12 years ago when Hugo was released. Both the look and tone were certainly different from anything he’d ever done before…a whimsical, fantasy-tinged love letter to an obscure French movie pioneer featuring two children in the lead roles.
But anyone who really professes to be a Scorsese fan is well aware his filmography is loaded with passion projects that are atypical of the violent epics he’s associated with, such as Silence and Kundun. And as Hollywood’s most vocal advocate for film preservation, his interest in Hugo shouldn’t really come as a big surprise, since one of its central themes concerns the preservation of filmmaker George Méliès’ movies (most of which have been lost over time). Scorsese’s love for cinema and one of its pioneers is clear in every frame.
Like most films Scorsese made that were outside of his comfort zone, Hugo was met with audience indifference back in 2011, which is a shame because it arguably ranks among his best of this century. If not his most emotionally affecting film, it’s certainly a technical triumph and aesthetically gorgeous. It’s also kind of ironic that such a cinema purist would be one of the few directors to utilize 3D as more than just a superfluous gimmick.
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However, the plethora of all-new bonus material makes it worth picking up. In addition to archival features, there are new interviews, appreciations and retrospective looks at both the film and its inspiration (outlined below). As usual, Arrow provides additional physical perks - such as a poster and booklet - but those weren’t available for review.
A beautiful and earnest blend of history and fiction presented like a living storybook, Hugo remains an essential Scorsese film. Once again, he demonstrates that he’s a master in any genre. If the film's not already in your collection, this version is definitely the one to grab.
NOTE: Free Kittens Movie Guide was provided with a promo disc for review purposes. Physical supplemental material included with the final product (booklets, artwork, inserts, etc) were not available for review.
3D & 2D VERSIONS
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Jon Spira
NEW INTERVIEWS - Individual interviews with The Invention of Hugo Cabret author/illustrator Brian Selznick, director of photography Robert Richardson and composer Howard Shore. All three are pretty lengthy and interesting.
“IAN CHRISTIE ON HUGO” - New featurette.
“SECRET MACHINES: HUGO AND FILM PRESERVATION” - New visual essay by Scout Tafoya.
“CREATING NEW WORLDS” - New featurette about the life of filmmaker Georges Méliès.
“PAPA GEORGES MADE MOVIES” - New featurette.
“MÉLIÈS AT THE TIME OF HUGO" - Short new visual essay by Jon Spira, which covers Méliès’ real life during the time Hugo takes place.
ARCHIVAL FEATURETTES - Shoot the Moon - The Making of Hugo; The Cinemagician: Georges Méliès; The Mechanical Man at the Heart of Hugo; Big Effects, Small Scale; Sacha Baron Cohen: Role of a Lifetime (funny or stupid, depending on your tolerance for Cohen)