Mook Review: Hugo

The Invention of Hugo Cabret  Written by Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick, Mookology

via BN.com

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a delightful childrens historical fiction novel by author and illustrator Brian Selznick.  At first glance, the story seems quite hefty in length for a childrens book but Selznick’s illustrations account for at least half of the book.  The artwork was something I found interesting and, moreso, entertaining.  One of the reasons I love mooks so much is because words and imagery are so intertwined in what they are meant to do; when done purposefully, both can accomplish the telling of a story.  In Selznick’s case, his illustrations convey equal amounts of action as his words and you could easily grasp the concept of the story through this visual aid.

I was captivated by The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  I had put my mind to reading it several times, but found myself unmotivated to actually pick up this book.  However, once I began reading I could not put it down and finished the story within a few hours.  Hugo, our main character, is as intelligent as he is determined but at the same time he is a lonely, orphaned child.  I loved how honest his character was portrayed.  He was hesitant to trust and hell-bent on uncovering the meaning of his life.  The mystery surrounding the automaton, Hugo’s father, and Georges Méliès is evident in Hugo’s thoughts and when it finally comes full circle, Hugo is given the opportunity to live as a child again.  The characters that help him along the way become Hugo’s family, and happily ever after doesn’t seem quite so corny in this story.

I can easily see why Selznick’s book was a best seller and a child favorite.  It is definitely the kind of book I can picture myself reading to my future children every night in bed.  At the end, The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a wonderful tale of adventure and education.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!

“Hugo”  Directed by Martin Scorsese

Hugo Movie, Martin Scorsese, 2011 Oscars, Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Chloe Moretz, Sacha Baron Cohen

via IMDB.com

The 2011 film “Hugo” was a major success for legendary director Martin Scorsese and won 5 Oscars in total, ranging from Best Cinematography to Best Visual Effects.  From the first preview I saw for “Hugo” I was very interested in seeing the film and, after reading Selznick’s book, I truly could envision how it could have been adapted.  There were many things that made this movie successful in its own right.  Everything about the setting and cinematography revers a dream-like appeal and the young actors are incredibly successful at their parts; Asa Butterfield and Chloë Grace Moretz were phenomenal as Hugo and Isabelle, respectively.  The adult roles of Georges Méliès and, much more involved than in the book, the Station Inspector emphasizes Hugo’s position in the story.  He is an orphan and a thief trying to get by on his own.

There were a lot of changes made in “Hugo” in terms of characters and their relationships.  Something I liked was the heightened character of the Station Inspector.  In the book, while feared by Hugo, the Station Inspector doesn’t pose too much of a threat until the one major chase towards the end.  In the movie, the Station Inspector is more of a main character and we get to see his blatant cruelty.  Also, the added information that he was an orphan himself shows his own loneliness and anger towards not having a family.

It was Hugo and Isabelle’s friendship that bothered me the most.  Hugo is very, very hesitant to trust Isabelle in The Invention of Hugo Cabret and really doesn’t want her around.  The film changed this; Hugo enjoys her company relatively early on and they become fast friends, holding hands and having adventures.  This bothered me a lot and made it seem kind of cheesy.  Additionally, Papa Georges and Mama Jeans relationship with Isabelle’s parents is never mentioned – why?!  It completely changes Papa Georges reason for quitting his films and makes it much less tragic.

Visually, the movie was enjoyable and I can easily see why it gained such respect in the film world.  Yet, like in SO MANY adaptations, senseless changes diluted the story and brought it to the surface level rather than giving the story depth.  With a text such as The Invention of Hugo Cabret it barely makes sense to alter the story, given it wasn’t particularly dense or difficult to convey on screen.  As a mook, “Hugo” left me disappointed.

Mook Rating  ★★1/2

*UPDATE* –  I would like to add that I did not see “Hugo” in 3D and therefore cannot comment on the 3D effects of the movie (though I am sure it was fantastic).

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2 thoughts on “Mook Review: Hugo

  1. Good review of both, though I liked the film more than the book. Good point about Papa George’s & Mama Jean’s relationship to Isabelle’s parents not being mentioned in the book; I missed that.

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