I often go into movie adaptations of my favorite books with a feeling of dread: what have they done now? The Lightning Thief, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and too many others to list have all failed to live up to my expectations as the filmmakers have taken a bit too much license with the stories and characters and mangled them to the point of frustration. I don’t expect a movie to be perfectly in tune with a book, but I do expect it to be true to the heart of the book.
Hugo does that. Thankfully.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret remains one of my favorite young adult books of recent years. It was one of those discoveries that makes your eyes open wide and think, this is what a book can be! The illustrations were not just partners to the story; they were the story. The use of image and metaphor and history … it call came together with precision that also tugged at your heartstrings. Author/illustrator Brian Selznick hit a high note with The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and send me searching for old movies on YouTube from the beginning of movies, and the book had me wondering about the crafty ways Selznick put the gears of the story in motion, and brought it to a nice conclusion. (His newest book, Wonderstruck, is just as wonderful but in a different way).
Yesterday, I finally got to see the movie adaption by Martin Scorcese — simply titled Hugo — and I was so relieved that the movie really does capture so much of the spirit and essence of the book. Scorcese’s filmmaking abilities are on full display here (particularly the use of the railroad station as the setting and the giant clocks that form the theme of the story), and he is faithful to the story. In doing so, Scorcese gives us a wonderful lesson about the early age of film, and the pioneers who paved the way for movies to become a part of our lives.
So Scorcese got it right.
Now I wonder if The Lorax will be any good …. one of my all-time favorite picture books and if the previews are any indication, the storyline is quite different from the book. I’ll keep an open mind, but I’ll be ready for disappointment, too. Sigh.
Peace (in the movies),