I’ve been a fan of Hugo Cabret since the book came out four years ago, along with many other people. For a few semesters, it was one of the required books in my children’s literature course. When I first heard that it was being adapted into a movie, I was skeptical. My children & students will tell you, this tends to be my response anytime a book is made into a movie, particularly if it is one that I love. Two weeks ago, I went to see the movie with my husband and two daughters. I was blown away by the adaptation of Hugo Cabret, the book into Hugo, the movie. What stood out to me especially was the lack of text in the opening minutes of the movie, mimicking the stunningly beautiful opening 45 illustrations of the book. The music was also incredible, adding so much in such a subtle way.
Recently I discovered The Hugo Movie Companion, “A Behind the Scenes Look at How a Beloved Book Became a Major Motion Picture”. My daughter and I were particularly excited about the fact that it is written by Selznick himself and also includes commentary by Scorsese & David Serlin. The book gives some insight into what was involved in adapting the particular book to the screen. The perspectives of many on the production team are included along with the actors. The final chapter has Selznick sharing with readers the complicated process of how everyone involved worked together on one specific scene: in the case the ending party scene. He shares why the scene not originally in the book was added as well as his experience participating as an extra. (I missed this the first time I saw it!) It can be easy to sit in a theater and criticize the adaptation of a book into a movie. Having this book as a window into the decisions and processes involved is enlightening and entertaining.
Here are some other great links for fans of Brian Selznick, Hugo Cabret, and the movie:
The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Selznick’s website with loads of fascinating and interesting sources about the book, the movie and his new book Wonderstruck (which just won a 2012 Schneider Family Award) . You can also watch the opening illustrations in sequence.
This past weekend, CBS Sunday morning had two different features related to the movie. The first is a piece about automata, and includes an interview with Brian Selznick.
The second is an interview with Martin Scorsese about his career and making the particular movie. I particularly love that Scorsese is shown holding the actual book in his hands (complete with flags, post-its & dog-ears) and referring to the parallel shot created for the film.