Hugo: Movie of a Film-within-a-Novel

I don’t know how I missed the announcement that Brian Selznick’s Caldecott-winning masterpiece The Invention of Hugo Cabret was going to be adapted for film. But it’s coming!

In case you don’t know, the Caldecott Medal is awarded “to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.” So you really must find a copy of the book and read/view it before you see this movie. I also encourage you to read Mr. Selnick’s acceptance speech, in which he explains how he “came to make a 550-page picture book,” and how he created “a novel that read like a movie,” and which also includes a cinematic illustrated sequence at the beginning, modeled after the introductory sequence of illustrations from the book.

Mr. Selznick is only credited as a writer for this movie (just for the book, not for the screenplay), which I find perplexing, because the book is very much about films. He also has skill with miniature set design, as I witnessed in person during a 2009 performance of “Live Oak, With Moss” at the HERE arts center (link contains a some mature themes). I can’t help but wonder whether the film would be different under Mr. Selnick’s artistic direction if the rights hadn’t been sold to a big studio with a big budget. Is he pleased that his film-within-a-novel has been given life on the big screen, or does he wish he’d been in a position to give more input? Perhaps a mix of both.

In any case, this does look like an appealing movie, and it has a cast I can get behind: Chloe Moretz (who somehow really stuck in my mind after an episode of 30 Rock), Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Jude Law. The actor who plays the titular character does look like Hugo from the book. And don’t forget, it’s directed by Martin Scorsese.

The movie will be released in the U.S. on November 23, giving you plenty of time to get your hands on the book in advance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *