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Oscar-Nominated 'Hugo' Centers on Movie Magic

Left to right: Asa Butterfield plays Hugo Cabret and Chloë Grace Moretz plays Isabelle in HUGO, from Paramount Pictures and GK Films.
Left to right: Asa Butterfield plays Hugo Cabret and Chloë Grace Moretz plays Isabelle in HUGO, from Paramount Pictures and GK Films.

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An epic children's adventure set in 1930's Paris has garnered the most Oscar nominations of any film this year: 11, including best picture and best director for Martin Scorcese. Here's a look at Hugo.



"Once upon a time I met a boy named Hugo Cabret. He searched to find a secret message and that message lit his way all the way home."


Hugo
is an orphan who lives in the shadows of a busy Paris train station, continuing the work his father taught him: keeping the many clocks running on time. The secret message is hidden within a man-shaped machine from his father's cluttered workshop.

Another orphan, Isabelle, holds the key - literally - to Hugo's automaton, and it leads them on an adventure into the world of the great French film pioneer George Melies.



Adapted from Brian Selznick's novel "The Secret of Hugo Cabret," the story was personal for director Martin Scorcese who, as a frail young boy, spent long hours in his local cinema.

In the film, Hugo discovers the wonder of the movies in much the same way. Asa Butterfield plays the title character.  He knew he was reliving some of the director's early experiences, but he also had to find his way into Hugo's world.

"Hugo is an orphan and he has had to grow up far faster than anyone his age should have to. I found it quite hard to relate to him because of all the hardships in his life," Butterfield explained.

Left to right: Chloë Grace Moretz plays Isabelle and Asa Butterfield plays Hugo Cabret in HUGO, from Paramount Pictures and GK Films.
Left to right: Chloë Grace Moretz plays Isabelle and Asa Butterfield plays Hugo Cabret in HUGO, from Paramount Pictures and GK Films.

Hugo finds a kindred spirit in Isabelle, played by Chloe Grace Moretz.

"The relationship was interesting because they both need each other for some reason," noted Moretz. "They both wanted to be loved, and I think Hugo needed someone to talk to and someone to have close to him …and I needed someone to have an adventure with."

"Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn't be an extra part. I have to be here for some reason …and that means you have to be here for some reason too."


Left to right: Chloë Grace Moretz (as Isabelle) and Asa Butterfield (as Hugo Cabret) discuss a scene with director/producer Martin Scorsese on the set of HUGO, from Paramount Pictures and GK Films.
Left to right: Chloë Grace Moretz (as Isabelle) and Asa Butterfield (as Hugo Cabret) discuss a scene with director/producer Martin Scorsese on the set of HUGO, from Paramount Pictures and GK Films.

In Hugo, Oscar winner Ben Kingsley plays George Melies, the pioneer known as the "father of narrative filmmaking."   

"I think the core value of its magic is its fearlessness in putting wounded characters on the screen. That's a very brave move," Kingsley said. "It is not sugar-coated and the healer is the youngest person on the screen who pulls all of these threads together. But you won't have an audience empathizing with you if nothing needs comforting."

Melies, a magician-turned-filmmaker, is at the center of this story. So perhaps it's appropriate that most of Hugo's eleven Oscar nominations are in the technical and craft fields including art direction, cinematography, costume design, editing and original musical score.

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