Hugo is a 2011 British-American-French historical family mystery adventure drama film based on Brian Selznick's novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Released in theaters on November 23, 2011, it is director Martin Scorsese's first foray into 3D filmmaking.


In 1931, 12-year-old Hugo Cabret lives in Paris with his father, a kind, widowed clockmaker who also works part-time at a museum. One day, his father finds a broken automaton - a mechanical man designed to write with a pen - at the museum. He and Hugo try to repair it, with Hugo's father documenting the automaton in a notebook. When his father is killed by a fire at the museum, Hugo is forced to live with his resentful, alcoholic uncle Claude Cabret, and made to learn how to maintain the clocks at the railway station of Gare Montparnasse. When Claude goes missing for several days, Hugo continues to maintain the clocks, fearing that he would be sent away as an orphan by the vindictive Station Inspector Gustave Dasté if Claude's absence is discovered. Hugo attempts to repair the automaton with stolen parts, believing it contains a message from his father, but the machine still requires a heart-shaped key that his father could not find.

Hugo is caught when stealing from the toy store owner Georges Méliès, who looks through his father's notebook and threatens to destroy it. Hugo encounters Georges' goddaughter Isabelle Méliès, who offers to help get the notebook back. Hugo learns Georges has forbidden Isabelle from going to the cinema, and introduces the medium to her as his father had done for him. As their friendship grows, he shows her the automaton, and is astonished when Isabelle inadvertently reveals she wears the key as a necklace given to her by Georges. When started, the machine draws out a scene that Hugo recognizes from his father's description of the film A Trip to the Moon. Isabelle identifies the signature, that of a "Georges Méliès", as her godfather. She sneaks Hugo into her home, where they find a hidden cache of more imaginative drawings of Méliès, but are caught by Georges, who banishes Hugo from his home.

Hugo and Isabelle go to the Film Academy Library and find a book about the history of cinema that praises Méliès' contributions. They meet the book's author, René Tabard, a film expert who is surprised to hear that Méliès might still be alive, as he had disappeared after World War I along with nearly all copies of his films. Excited at the chance to meet him, René agrees to meet Isabelle and Hugo at Georges' home to show his copy of A Trip to the Moon, hoping it will invigorate Georges.

The next day, Hugo discovers that the key has somehow found its way onto the railway tracks in the station. As he drops onto the track to retrieve it, he is suddenly hit by and killed by an uncontrollable train that eventually smashes through the walls of the station. Hugo wakes up to discover that the harrowing events were just a nightmare. After noticing that a pocket watch hanging from the rafters of his home is missing, Hugo can still hear an ominous ticking emanating from near him. When he realises that the sound is coming from near his chest, he pulls up his shirt and is horrified to discover that overnight, his torso has been filled with uncovered hydraulics which seem to be what keeps Hugo alive. As he tests his limbs, they too become purely mechanical. When his head turns to metal, he discovers he is turning into his own automaton. As the final stages of the transformation end - his hair and eyeballs disappearing and his face forming into that of his automaton - Hugo wakes up again to discover that this was yet another nightmare, possibly and disturbingly symbolising Hugo’s belief of all beings having a sole purpose in life.

On the scheduled night, Georges' wife Jeanne tries to turn them away, but René compliments Jeanne as Jeanne d'Alcy, an actress in many of Méliès' films, and she allows them to continue. As the film plays, Georges wakes up at the sight, and Jeanne finally convinces him to cherish his accomplishments rather than regret his lost dream. Georges recounts that as a stage magician, he had been fascinated by motion pictures, and used the medium to create imaginative works through his Star Film Company, but was forced into bankruptcy following the war, closing his studio and selling his films to be turned into raw materials. He laments that even an automaton he made that he donated to a museum was lost. Hugo recognizes this is the same automaton he has, and races to the station to retrieve it. He is caught by Gustave, who has learned that Claude's body was found some time ago, and threatens to take Hugo to the orphanage. Georges arrives and tells Gustave that he will now see to Hugo, adopting him as his son.

Some time later, Georges is named a professor at the Film Academy, and is paid tribute through a showcase of his films recovered by René. Hugo joins in with his new family as they celebrate at the apartment, where the guests include a mellower Gustave who has a new leg brace is clearly in love with Lisette, flower seller at the station. As the movie ends, Isabelle starts to write down Hugo's story and the automaton is shown in Hugo's new room, staring into space.




GK Films acquired the screen rights to The Invention of Hugo Cabret shortly after the book was published in 2007. Initially, Chris Wedge was signed in to direct the adaptation and John Logan was contracted to write the screenplay. The film was initially titled Hugo Cabret. Several actors were hired, including Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Helen McCrory. Jude Law, Ray Winstone, Christopher Lee, Frances de la Tour, and Richard Griffiths later joined the project. Hugo was originally budgeted at $100 million, but ran over with a final budget between $156 million and $170 million. In February 2012, Graham King summed up his experience of producing Hugo: "Let's just say that it hasn't been an easy few months for me—there's been a lot of Ambien involved".


Production began in London on June 29, 2010; the first shooting location was at the Shepperton Studios. The Nene Valley Railway near Peterborough also lent their original Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits rolling stock to the studio.

In August 2010, production moved to Paris for two weeks. Locations included the Sainte-Geneviève Library, the Sorbonne (where a lecture hall was converted into a 1930s cinema hall) in the 5th arrondissement, and the Théâtre de l'Athénée and its surrounding area in the 9th. High school Lycée Louis-le-Grand served as the film's base of operations in Paris; its cafeteria served 700 meals a day for the cast and crew.


The film's soundtrack includes an Oscar-nominated original score composed by Howard Shore, and also makes prominent use of the Danse macabre by [[wikipedia:Camille Saint-Saëns]|Camille Saint-Saëns]] and Gnossienne No. 1 by Erik Satie. Additional music was provided uncredited by French pianist and composer Jean-Michel Bernard.


The film was theatrically released on November 23, 2011, by Paramount Pictures, premiered at the New York Film Festival on October 10, 2011, and was released on DVD and Blu-ray on February 28, 2012, by Paramount Home Entertainment.

Differences between the book and the filmEdit

The film follows the book very faithfully, but there are some differences enough to be pointed out to those who have read it.

  • Some shots are inconsistent with the illustrations they are based upon: One example being Hugo who looks through the number 4 on the clock of the train station, while in the book he looks through the number 5.
  • Like most adaptations, many details (such as the mention of Hugo's school friends Louis and Antionne and Hugo's trip on the Paris Métro en route to the film academy library) are omitted or cut completely from the film for time and pacing reasons.
  • The Station Inspector is given a larger role in the film than in the book, he has a metal brace on his left leg, provides a small support of comic relief against his antagonistic personality, and is accompanied by a Doberman Pinscher named Maximillian. Also, his outfit is blue rather than bottle-green in the book. This was because the film's costume designer, Sandy Powell, felt that the blue was more realistic.
  • In the film, the new character of Lisette is introduced, the flower seller who is involved in a romantic subplot between herself and the Station Inspector.
  • Hugo and Isabelle's adult friend, Etienne, who helps the duo sneak into the local movie house and helps Hugo learn about the history of film at the library is omitted and many of his actions are either performed by Hugo or Isabelle as a means of allowing the film to follow those two main characters.
  • Hugo was about to steal a book on magic tricks when Etienne stepped in and gave Hugo some money so he could buy the book instead. This isn't included in the the film, however.
  • Isabelle was the one who could pick locks in the book, while in the movie, Hugo is the one shown with the skill.
  • The drawing the automaton produced looked different in the book, the one shown in the film being more comical-looking.
  • In the film, Isabelle willingly handed her heart-shaped key over to Hugo, whereas in the book he hugged her and took the necklace without Isabelle noticing as he did so.
  • In the film, right before the automaton is activated, Isabelle didn't attack Hugo, but in the book, she did.
  • Isabelle is much more friendly in the film than she is in the book.
  • In the book, Papa Georges never mentioned that he hated the clicking of shoes.
  • In the book, Hugo decides to run away from the train station after Uncle Claude has gone missing for three days and eventually comes across the automaton at what is left of the burned down museum. In the film, Hugo is working on the automaton in his house and takes it with him when Uncle Claude takes him under his wing.
  • In the book Hugo gets his right hand slammed on the door while following Isabelle after the discovery of the automaton's drawing, and while Isabelle tries to open the cabinet with Georges' drawings, the stool she is standing upon snaps and she breaks her leg. In the film, both children manage to open the cabinet without any injury.
  • In the book, the ending takes place six months later with Hugo becoming a magician known as Professor Alcofrisbas.
  • In the film, the aforementioned information is somewhat implied, as it is Isabelle who writes a story about Hugo during the after-party in the home of Papa Georges.
  • The book's ending reveals that the entire book, including pictures, was created by an automaton built by Hugo Cabret after the events of the story. The ending of the film reveals that the story was written in a journal by Isabelle.