“It all started with A Trip to the Moon,” Brian Selznick states in the introduction to Hugo: The Movie Companion. For Selznick, his inspiration may have begun with A Trip to the Moon, but for Martin Scorsese, his entry into the world of 3-D filmmaking began with The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the book that was a result of Selznick’s love of film.
Confused? Don’t be. As with most things, life has a funny way of coming full circle.
Brian Selznick is a relative of the infamous David O. Selznick — the producer responsible for such classic films as King Kong (1933), Gone with the Wind (1939), and Rebecca (1940); to name just a few. David and Brian’s grandfather grew up together, and Brian’s grandmother’s house was filled with books about David O. Selznick that Brian loved to read.
It seems that once filmmaking gets into a bloodline, it is hard to flush it out. The Invention of Hugo Cabret seems like a film in and of itself. Selznick tells the story through pictures, that he illustrated himself. He writes, “I wanted to experiment with the visual aspect to my story.” In the movie companion, Brian recounts how he removed as many of the words as possible replacing them with illustrations. In his acceptance speech for the Caldecott Medal, Brian talks about his desire to make the book as cinematic as possible.
The result is a book that tells the tale of a boy who meets a revered filmmaker unraveling and exploring the history of filmmaking. As Hugo seeks out the answers to his past so that he can discover his future, he learns that life is an exciting thread of interconnected adventures. Telling the story in illustrations rather than words . . . well you can’t get much more cinematic than that. The 550-page picture book has been more than slightly successful, having won several awards including the 2007 Quill Award, the New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2007, and the aforementioned 2008 Caldecott Medal usually reserved for illustrators.
Selznick’s cinematic book found its way into the hands of Martin Scorsese whose legendary body of work as a filmmaker has inspired millions.
Thus the cinematic life of the fictional Hugo Cabret has come full circle, and so too, Brian Selznick finds his life returning to his childhood passions as his life becomes intertwined with the world of filmmaking. Brian’s adventure into filmmaking has resulted in more than just a book adapted to the big screen; he along with Martin Scorsese and a few other notables appear in a variety of cameos throughout the film. See if you can spot them all.
Selznick credits his inspiration to his viewing of A Trip to the Moon and his discovery that Georges Méliès was more than just a filmmaker, he had several automatons that were discarded after they were destroyed by years of rain and neglect after being stored in an attic. This gave birth to the character of Hugo Cabret, a young boy who stumbles upon the life of this grand storyteller/showman/inventor in a world where anything can happen.
The trailers to Scorsese’s film taunt us with one simple question, “What’s your name, boy?” Thus we are invited to share the 3-D movie experience this Thanksgiving by following the story of a young boy as he searches for meaning in a message from his father who has passed. The answers he seeks will find him “all the way home.” Hugo promises to delight viewers of all ages, but you will have to decide for yourself if it is worth the price of popcorn and a pair of 3-D glasses.