This week I finally had a chance to see Hugo (on DVD). Hugo is Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret. I wasn’t sure how I would respond to the movie, considering that the book is one of my favorite tween reads. Brian Selznick has such a unique way of telling his story-I wasn’t sure that could be captured on film.
I was surprised at how much I liked it. No, Hugo is not just like The Invention of Hugo Cabret (as many library patrons pointed out to me… “I can’t believe they left out this part!” ”She wasn’t even a character in the book!”, etc…) but after watching many movie adaptations, I’ve learned not to expect the book.
The movie is beautifully shot and the use of CGI to create the train station was especially impressive. In terms of plot changes (SPOILER ALERT) I did not mind the addition of Emily Mortimer’s character (Lisette, the flower girl) because the interactions that she had with the station master really helped to develop his character. The movie includes a more detailed drawing of the station master-including his history and explains why he is so strict (heartless?) about stray children in the station.
I was mostly concerned that the movie would give us too much information about the story. When reading the book, the reader gets some information from text, and some from illustrations. For example, Selznick could have written a detailed description of Isabelle’s favorite bookstore, but instead he gives us a detailed illustration:
By studying the illustration, the reader can pick up details in the story and create a full picture in his/her mind. Especially for people who are visual learners, the numerous illustrations in this book provide for a complete reading experience. How could a movie accomplish this? Scorsese includes many shots of Paris and close-ups of the characters without dialogue that simulate the effect-the images speak for themselves.
Pairing The Invention of Hugo Cabret with the movie adaptation would be a great choice for a book-to-movie club for tweens. Has anyone tried a book-to-movie club for this age group?
Recommendation: 5 out of 5 lupines