Counting Down Family Friendly Steampunk Movies: Hugo (2011)

The Origins of the Film “Hugo”

This story was first told in a book called The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was written and illustrated by Brian Selznick. He worked on several different books for children, but this one is his opus. It comes in at a whopping 527 pages.


The film came out in 2011 to rave reviews. Plus, it received five of the eleven Oscars it was nominated for that year. It stars Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game) and veteran actor Ben Kingsley. The film also features excellent performances by Sacha Baron-Cohen (Borat) and Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-ass).

What is Hugo About?

Hugo Cabret is little boy alone in the world. He lives in the walls of a Paris train station and keeps the clocks running. But as an orphan, he has to steal to survive. One day, he is intrigued by a clockwork toy at one of the booths in the station. When he tries to steal it, the man behind the counter takes Hugo’s most precious possession, his father’s notebook.

The toymaker puts Hugo through his paces and tests his mechanical skills. His granddaughter befriends Hugo in the process. Together, the kids discover the old man’s real identity as pioneer filmmaker, George Melies. He made hundreds of films from 1896-1912. In the wake of WWI, he’d lost everything, including his heart, and Hugo is the key to making him whole again.

What I Thought of Hugo

This is an absolutely beautiful piece of historical fiction about rediscovering the magic in your life. There are tons of clockwork creations, including an automaton that Hugo is trying to finish in his father’s memory. Most of the films made by Melies were lost forever, but the makers of this movie recreated some of the most iconic scenes.

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