Monday, February 27, 2012

So, Hugo won 5 Oscars last night which is amazing since it is the first time director Martin Scorsese has gone soft and produced a non violent film. It looks to be a children’s film but it also has an attraction to adult audiences as well. Many can remember the mechanical antique toys that moved amazingly well without the aid of batteries.
These mechanical toys actually inspired the book and movie Hugo. Machines were actually being built from the late 18 hundreds. The machines were called automatoms and some were able to write and draw. They were wind up toys that would tighten a spring that can power the device until the spring got loose again.
Many of them have been preserved at Philadelphia’s Franklyn Institute. The devices move by pulling levers guided by grooves in brass discs called cams. It could draw pictures and write texts. The devices wrote out its creator’s name Maillardet. Hundreds of years ago automatoms were created by watchmakers to show their diversity in creations.
Author Brian Selznick was fascinated by the device. He then wrote a children’s book centered on an automatom as its main character, yes, something like a windup man. He even went to the Institute to study a machine. The story is about a boy Hugo that finds one of these machines in the trash. His story became a 500 page tale.
It doesn’t read or look like your typical children’s story. Much of it unfolds in a series of pencil and ink drawings that Selznick created in a studio in his Brooklyn , New York apartment. His best selling book The Invention of Hugo Cabret was turned into the movie Hugo. It earned 11 Oscar nominations and won 5 Oscars. Brian in his studio drew the elaborate grate that ended up being built for the movie.
In the story Hugo winds up living behind the grate of a 1930’s Paris train station. He hopes that in fixing his automatom will reveal an important message just as it did in the past. At the Morris Museum in New Jersey, since the movie came out there has been greater interest in seeing automatoms. The museum has about 120 automatoms from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
They were adult luxuries that were meant to be a decorative art in your own home. The machines were even used by magicians. There were a number of automatom’s made but none to the caliber of the moving man that can draw and write messages. Most others would move hands or feet eyes and mouth only.
The machine is a rare old curiosity finding a modern-day rebirth. The film is intriguing to adults for its technical curiosity and the children love it for its gentle characters. Filmed in 3-D makes it more interesting because the way it was done was not to shock you with things thrown in your face style. This 3-D simply makes all the action more vivid not shocking to your eyes and emotions or reflexes.
So, by winning all those awards maybe America needs a kinder gentile 3-D experience that all members of society can enjoy.

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