Posted on February 8, 2011
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
I will confess something if you promise not to make fun. Okay, I’m a little freaked out by old movies. You know, old like black and white, silent movies old. There is something about the double time speed combined with the grainy picture so you’re not sure what you’re seeing. I get the feeling like I’m watching The Ring video and something really creepy is about to happen, like the persons going to turn and talk directly to me. But I won’t know what they’re saying because there’s no sound. And you know those actors are doing their own stunts, so the lawyer in me is no okay with that. At least tell me you got a waiver. And above of all the home made special effects haunt me the most…case in point this picture of the man in the moon. And that’s the still version. It is even worse when it is moving. You have to Google it yourself because I’m not going to chance seeing that.
I read somewhere that a reviewer is supposed to tell you how a book changed your soul. I think that is a pretty big hurdle for any book to accomplish, but The Invention of Hugo Cabret at least changed my perceptive on those early movies.
The story is about a 12 year old boy living alone in train station in Paris in the 1930s, trying to repair a broken automaton. What is an automaton? Guess you’ll have to read the book to find out, but I’ll give you a little sneek peek. Way back when, magicians would make these machines as part of their act, so you can just imagine what they might do. The boy’s path crosses with an old toy maker and a young girl and everyone has a secret that they don’t want to share. How does all this relate to early film making? Well, the story is actually inspired by true events surrounding the life of early film maker, Georges Méliès, who made the movie, Le Voyage dans la lune, or A Trip to the Moon, the movie portrayed in the man in the moon picture above. And in fact, Mr. Méliès actually owned several automatrons.
The book is told through both written story and illustrations. The drawings are amazing and there are times you feel like you are watching a movie. One of the magical parts of the book is a chase scene portrayed by drawings and it makes you feel like you’re part of the action.
Martin Scorsese is directing a film adaptation of the book which may be released in December of 2011. Keep your eyes out for it, but in the meantime check out the book.
My daughter found the book by my bed, and was immediately drawn to the pictures. I loved it when she got to the picture of the man in the moon, she had to find me and tell me how creepy that picture was. I guess, like father, like daughter. But I know once she hears the story, she’ll appreciate the magic behind those movies, as I do now. And I know you will too.