Martin Scorsese has no trouble recalling the formative filmgoing experiences of his life.

“The first emotional and psychological bond that I have is sharing these films with my father,” the director says, explaining how a case of severe asthma forced him to stay indoors. “Then, on the weekends, my father took me to the movies, and we saw everything from Westerns to ‘Sunset Blvd.’ to ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ to ‘The Heiress.’ Somehow, the emotional bond that really connected me with him was experiencing those together.”

With “Hugo,” Scorsese wanted not only to imbue future audiences with the same thrill such pictures had instilled in him as a child, but also to capture the emotional experience of sharing films with someone special. While elaborate sets, a dynamic story and the use of 3D are sure to impress young eyes, the director realized it would take a poignant dramatic scene to achieve the latter goal, as when Hugo and his bookish friend Isabelle sneak into a theater to watch Harold Lloyd’s “Safety Last.”

From the beginning, Scorsese was drawn to “the cinematic nature of the book itself” and “the resolution of the whole story through the very origins of the moving image.”

The project also allowed him to celebrate one of his cinema heroes, Georges Melies, credited with many of the medium’s “firsts,” from narrative storytelling to pioneering special effects. Not only was Melies one of the first filmmakers to be destroyed by film piracy, but, according to Scorsese, “He was also the first filmmaker to be censored. His film ‘The Dreyfus Affair’ was banned by the French government.”

Scorsese also felt strongly attached to the story of an isolated young boy whose world is expanded by the discovery of movies. Asked whether he thinks the character will go on to become a director, Scorsese doesn’t hesitate: “I imagine him working in the outer reaches, like Jean Vigo in the ’30s. And she will become an author.”

Eye on the Oscars: The Director
It’s a matter of ‘life’ and mirth
And the nominees are:
Woody Allen | Michel Hazanavicius | Terrence Malick | Alexander Payne | Martin Scorsese