Scorsese: ‘Hugo’ shares helmer’s passion

Eye on the Oscars: The Director - Martin Scorsese

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

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • CJ-CGV Cinemas

    CJ CGV Sells $286 Million Stake in Asian Cinema Businesses

    CJ CGV, the Korean movie theaters giant, is to raise $286 million from the sale of a slice of its Indonesian, Vietnamese and Chinese businesses. The company, which has its own stock market listing and is affiliated to the CJ Group, which includes CJ E&M and CJ Entertainment, said this week that it had sold [...]

  • Taiwanese director Fu Yue

    China, Taiwan in Film Awards Face-off With Roosters, Horses Scheduled on Same Day

    Despite rising political antagonism, China and Taiwan have for years been able to put aside their differences for a night of shared glitz and glamour at the annual Taipei-based Golden Horse Awards, known as Asia’s Oscars. But with cross-strait relations at a nadir, that’s about to change.  Chinese-language cinema is set for a showdown the [...]

  • Julia Roberts Harriet Tubman

    Studio Exec Suggested Julia Roberts Play Harriet Tubman, 'Harriet' Screenwriter Says

    Multi-talented multi-hyphenate Cynthia Erivo plays Harriet Tubman in Kasi Lemmons’ biopic “Harriet.” But according to “Harriet’s” screenwriter, Gregory Allen Howard, Julia Roberts — yes, white woman Julia Roberts — was once suggested by a studio executive to play the role. In a Q&A for “Harriet” studio Focus Features as well as a piece for the [...]

  • Atlantics

    Variety Names 10 Directors to Watch for 2020

    Before film critics start summing up the present year at the movies with a deluge of Top 10 lists, Variety gazes into the medium’s future by announcing its annual 10 Directors to Watch — a lineup of filmmaking talents who’ve stood out on the recent festival circuit, or whose movies will soon be hitting screens [...]

  • Napa Valley Film Festival Winners: 'Lucky

    'Lucky Grandma' Wins Napa Valley Film Festival Narrative Feature Prize

    “Lucky Grandma,” “The Remix: Hip Hop in Fashion” and “The Nomads” were among the winners of the Napa Valley Film Festival, which ran Nov. 13-17 in various towns in the valley. The winner of the narrative feature was “Lucky Grandma,” presented by ZD Wines, which won a $10,000 cash prize, courtesy of Meadowood Napa Valley. [...]

  • Brad Pitt stars in “Ad Astra”.

    Brad Pitt's 'Ad Astra' to Blast Off in China in December

    The Brad Pitt sci-fi blockbuster “Ad Astra” is set to take off in Chinese theaters Dec. 6, more than two months after its U.S. launch. Directed, co-written and produced by James Gray (“The Lost City of Z,” “Two Lovers”), the thriller also stars Tommy Lee Jones, Liv Tyler, Donald Sutherland and Ruth Negga. Pitt plays [...]

  • Fred Wolf to Direct 'Love 40'

    Film News Roundup: Fred Wolf to Direct Tennis Rom-Com 'Love 40'

    In today’s film news roundup, Fred Wolf is directing a romantic comedy in New York; Leah Remini, Chinoye Chukwu, Marielle Heller and Lulu Wang receive honors; and the topless bar documentary “Red Dog” finds a home. ‘LOVE 40’ Bluewater Lane Productions has brought on Fred Wolf to co-write and direct the romantic comedy “Love 40,” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content