Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Hugo Movie Companion

I love the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret so much--I was very nervous about the movie, but knowing that the author, Brian Selznick, liked the movie, made me less nervous. Then it came out and I saw it and I did really like it. I blogged about it here.

I heard there was a book about the making of the movie, so I put it on hold at the library--now that I've read it, I want my own copy. Plus I want to put a copy in my classroom library. It's got a $19.99 sticker so we'll see when that happens, but not only is it a beautiful book, but Selznick wrote it so it's beautifully written, and it would be of more interest to someone who'd read The Invention of Hugo Cabret and seen the movie, but the subtitle is "A Behind the Scenes Look at How a Beloved Book Became a Major Motion Picture," and I think it would be of interest to many people who maybe even hadn't seen or read Hugo Cabret.

First of all, like I said, it's a beautiful book. Tons of full page photos of scenes from the movie and the filming of the movie, of the fabulous double page illustrations from the book, of sketches and floor plans and pages from the script and the score and from people's notes related to the movie--including lots of images related to the automatons: photos and blueprints and related images (there were fifteen different automatons used in the film! I had no idea. There is so much I'll look for when I see Hugo again), and of other images related to the images in the books--old automatons, and stills from related films, and the real George Méliès in his toy booth, and a diagram from the Cinémathèque Française showing exactly the angles and placement of the fish tank to film through the tank so that the mermaids appeared underwater in Méliès' Kingdom of Fairies. At first I thought maybe there were too many photos, but then I didn't think that anymore. Also, the book is so perfectly designed--I love the full bleed printing, sheer to the edge of the page--and it's great to get to see some of these images in such proximity to each other.

But it's a book about how a movie is made, including profiles of/interviews with the Production Designer, Set Decorator, Props Master, and many others. I also love the "Biographies" section at the end, especially seeing what other films some of the behind the scenes people worked on. For instance, many of them were involved with the film of Sweeney Todd, which made me smile. Anyway, I imagined lots of, "Oh, Helen! Haven't seen you since the last Harry Potter opening in London!" when shooting began on Hugo. It was also cool to see how many people have worked on so many projects with "Marty" Scorsese. He has a team, for sure. A hell of a team.

I'm even more eager to reread the book now. The last chapter of The Hugo Movie Companion focuses on the shooting of the final scene of the movie, which is a great idea for many reasons, not least of which it's the scene Selznick had a cameo in (and a line!)--but he talks about how the ending of the book is different from the end of the movie, which registered, but I want to look at them both more closely.

So yeah. Read The Invention of Hugo Cabret, see the movie, and read The Hugo Movie Companion. Ideally in that order, I think, but not necessarily.

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