The Invention of Hugo Cabret

A book. Okay — a children’s book. But then so is Harry Potter, Narnia, Lord of the Rings….

This one is called The Invention of Hugo Cabret. by Brian Selznick  (That would be the same  Selznick as his great uncle David O. Selznick, and great-grand nephew of Lewis J. Selznick. — IMDB them if it doesn’t pop into your head — David O. produced Gone With the Wind and about 40 other movies; Lewis produced nearly 60 silent pics before 1920….)

So Brian Selznick has the show business in his genes, his veins, and probably in his sinuses.  And he’s an artist.  –He draws –magically.

And while you’re t the IMDB — look up  Georges Melies. He was one of the first filmmakers.   Like — ever.  If you’ve ever watched footage of film history documentaries — you have probably seen many minutes of his work — including the “from the earth to the moon” first sci-fi fantasy film footage of the bullet shaped rocket flying into the eye of the man-in-the-moon — assuming it’s a soft cream cheese moon.  Well, he made nearly 600 short and mid-length films that we know of — but was more of a creative wizard than a financial one and eventually lost his little studio in France — they destroyed (melted down) all the films stored there and used the cellulose to make shoe heels.  He lived out his life barely supporting himself by running a toy kiosk in the Paris train terminal.

This is a Graves Level 7, 400pp book (half the pages are Selznick’s drawings) that reads like watching a silent movie.  It weaves together the time it takes to turn the pages — Melies’s films, his museum quality automaton collection, his own fate, and the fate of an orphaned clockmaker’s son who is rebuilding an automaton he has rescued from the ashes of a burned Paris museum.  It’s basically a 400pp jig-saw puzzle full of the imagination and history of lives spent in the cinama industry, art, magic, vaudeville, clockworks, and piece-work childhood.

This is a great book — read it aloud to your kid.  Or your spouse.  Show them the pages and pages of black and white line drawings that are almost as cinematic as a trip to the tiny movie theaters where Melies played his experimental pictures back in the 1890s and 1900s.

Just amazing —  Melius’ Trip to the Moon is on Youtube — be sure to watch both pt. 1 and  pt.2 — it moves really fast…. and remember — this is 1902.  Narrative in film was a brand new idea.  And his 1902 special effects (some of the first) are just wonderful!

You’ll love it!


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