“Hugo” (2011). Cast: Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Chloë Grace Moretz, Helen McCrory, Jude Law, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee, Ray Winstone, Michael Stuhlbarg, Frances de la Tour, Richard Griffiths. Director: Martin Scorsese. Screenplay: John Logan. Book: The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick. www.hugomovie.com/#home
Magic is something to which we all aspire, either in terms of the results we realize with it, the inspiration we draw from it or both. Movies that capture these sentiments are a true joy to behold, and we’re fortunate when they come along to both enlighten and entertain us. That’s why we should be grateful for offerings like the new fantasy adventure, “Hugo.”
Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is a resourceful young lad. As an orphaned youngster abandoned by his alcoholic uncle (Ray Winstone), Hugo lives in the Paris train station, tending to its massive mechanical clockworks, a skill at which he has become quite proficient. He survives by stealth, snatching what he needs from the station’s vendors while craftily evading the watchful eye of the scrutinous Station Inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen).
When not fending for himself, Hugo spends his time working on a special project – restoring an inoperative automaton found by his late father (Jude Law), an undertaking he began with his dad before his tragic death in a fire. Hugo’s convinced he must complete the project, because he believes the mechanical man, who appears to be capable of writing, has a message for him from his father. Hugo keeps a notebook of detailed renderings of his silent companion, which helps him figure out what parts he needs to carry out the restoration. He acquires those components by pilfering them from the station’s cantankerous resident toymaker, Papa Georges (Ben Kingsley). But, despite many successful swipes, Hugo’s luck eventually runs out.
Georges is furious when he catches the little thief, knowing that he’s stolen from him many times before. He grabs Hugo’s notebook and threatens to burn it – that is, until he notices its contents, which prompt a curiously cryptic response from the old man. Hugo begs Georges to return his notebook, but he refuses, reiterating his threat to incinerate it. Hugo follows Georges home after work, hoping to figure out a way to retrieve his prized possession, and, in doing so, he meets Georges’ goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), who lives with the grumpy shopkeeper and his wife, Jeanne (Helen McCrory). Hugo proceeds to enlist Isabelle’s help in reacquiring his notebook, an effort that launches a fast friendship.
Even though Hugo and Isabelle don’t meet with immediate success, they share a number of good times together. In particular, Hugo introduces Isabelle to the movies, one of his favorite pastimes and one of the biggest crazes sweeping 1920s Paris – and an activity that Georges expressly forbids Isabelle from partaking in. Despite this prohibition, she falls in love with the on-screen magic, something that wouldn’t have happened if Hugo hadn’t introduced her to it. And so it’s with the simple act of going to the show that everything begins to change. It leads to Hugo finding the missing parts he needs to operate the automaton and to discover its secret message, events that, in turn, help to explain much about Georges – who he is, who he was, why he’s fascinated with Hugo’s notebook, why he’s so embittered and what’s behind his mysterious disdain for the movies. These revelations open new doors for all concerned, with magical results beyond their wildest dreams.
In many ways, “Hugo” is a primer on a variety of conscious creation principles. It clearly illustrates how our beliefs and expectations – for better or worse – yield the reality we each experience. Hugo, for example, is so convinced that the completion of his task is essential to his future well-being that he repeatedly draws circumstances to him that make fulfillment of his vision possible. He carries on, despite seeming obstacles, and he’s richly rewarded for his efforts.
Georges, by contrast, lives life in disillusionment, a product of his own misplaced beliefs. He’s so bought into the intractable nature of his circumstances that he can’t see that other options are possible – and that the disillusionment he’s experiencing is itself a form of self-created illusion. He should know better, too, because, as becomes apparent, he spent his early years deliberatelycreating illusions of another kind – illusions that brought much delight to others – and, through it all, he made it look easy. In his later years, however, he came to believe that he couldn’t work that same magic on himself, leaving him embittered, resentful and locked into an easily changeable deception, an unfortunate circumstance, given that he innately knew the contrary to be true.
It’s also intriguing to see such an eloquent depiction of some of the other elements that make conscious creation tick. For instance, synchronicities abound in the film. Whenever particular conditions are called for, they appear on cue, with perfect timing and materialization, as if by magic. Everything comes off “like clockwork,” a fittingly visual metaphor in light of the protagonist’s primary vocation, which itself is indicative of Hugo’s methodology for invoking the conscious creation process.
As a corollary to this, we also routinely see the inherent connectedness of all things, another bedrock principle of conscious creation. In numerous instances, one thing leads to another to another to another in perfect succession, all made possible by the intrinsic linkages that exist among them and the synchronicities that enable the perfect timing of their manifestation. If Hugo hadn’t met Isabelle and taken her to the movies, for example, nothing of what followed would have happened, yet, because the integral connections played out as intended, the outcomes that were meant to manifest indeed did so.
And because everything unfolds so seemingly effortlessly, we see the magic of conscious creation at work. That’s especially heartening to those who doubt the process. Hugo and Isabelle see it, but Georges does not, even if he did at one time. The youngsters thus work the process to bring the magic into being not only for themselves, but also for Georges, helping him to rediscover something he was once so aware of. By doing that, Hugo and Isabelle engage in one of conscious creation’s most laudable pursuits, the concept of value fulfillment, wherein they use their abilities to be their own best selves for their own benefit and for the benefit of those around them. And once Georges rediscovers this for himself, his renewed efforts in this regard ultimately serve to benefit the whole world.
Director Martin Scorsese has worked some major magic of his own with this film, one of his best efforts in some time and a huge departure from his usual fare. It’s a fun-filled adventure for all ages, with wonderful performances and excellent period piece elements. And, unlike s