When you hear that a director is experimenting with something for the first time, it can be a cause for caution. You worry that the studio is gambling by indulging the whims of someone while they experiment with the audience’s money. But when it’s legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese who, with Hugo, has decided to create his first film produced specifically with 3D technology in mind, you just know it’s going to be done properly.
And what a first attempt it is. Knowing all the while that he’s got to make a film that still works in two dimensions, you are in safe hands for the duration. I watched the 2D version on Blu-Ray and it was stunning, even without the sensation of 3D that you might have had in a cinema, and therefore avoiding the 30% light loss [ © Mark Kermode ].
The opening sequence is an absolute joy to behold, from a sweeping shot of the Paris skyline to the railway station that hosts the story, you are taken on a fairground ride through a labyrinthine series of swoops, dives and turns that let you fully appreciate the clarity of the image and the depth of field offered to the 3D audience. Whether it’s a swinging pendulum or a thundering steam locomotive, there are some delightful examples of the preparation that’s gone into the production design.
But despite the showmanship of technical skills, at the heart of this tale is someone who truly loves film and wants the audience to share in that love. A plot line which might have appeared preachy and rather documentarian in the hands of a lesser filmmaker becomes a loving tribute to celluloid and the craft of the earliest pioneers of cinema.
The cast is very good, you forgive the very British accents for a story set in a Paris railway station. I even found myself not hating Sacha Baron Cohen for almost certainly the first time.
Overall, this is a gem, a jewel, a delight of a film. See it in the highest of high definition and warm your soul with the flickering lamp of an old movie projector. And I’m not referring to Mr Scorsese.