Sadly for me, I did not know that this was a book before I watched the movie in late 2011. I had enjoyed the movie enough to recommend it to friends (especially those who like imaginative scenes and plots). It was only during a book fair when my friend spotted it and picked it up that I came to know of the existence of the book.
This same book blew me away. And if I can find copies to give, it would definitely be on the top of my list of books. At least for some very selective people.
The story starts with Hugo’s repeated tries to fix an automaton rescued by his father from an old museum fire. Hugo hopes that fixing the automaton will reveal a message from his father who has died since then. However, what is discovered is the lost works of one of the first film-makers, nay magicians – Georges Méliès. The story continues through the discovery of Méliès’ art work and his acceptance of the changing times.
The story is wondeful, yes. But what made the book priceless is the drawings. Intricate sketches, page after page filled with black and white masterpieces. (Sometimes the same painting gets repeated for 3-4 pages, only with increasing detail and definition.) Oh what wonderful, wonderful drawings!!!
To tell you the truth, I didn’t think the movie ‘A trip to the moon’ actually existed. But it did. And so did Méliès. And the book has prints of his drawings and photographs from his early movies.
And there are such beautifully written words too. Take this for example, “I like to imagine that the world is one big machine. You know, machines never have any extra parts. They have the exact number and type of parts they need. So I figure if the entire world is a big machine, I have to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too.”
Or this, “As I look out at all of you gathered here, I want to say that I don’t see a room full of Parisians in top hats and diamonds and silk dresses. I don’t see bankers and housewives and store clerks. No. I address you all tonight as you truly are: wizards, mermaids, travelers, adventurers, and magicians. You are the true dreamers.”
A perfect book to be read on a single sitting (considering that you can finish it in some hours if you read uninterrupted), The inventions of Hugo Cabret is one of those few books that can be enjoyed by child, adult and in-betweeners alike.
You can get an idea of the artwork below. And fall in love with the book.
And then are some pictures drawn by the actual Méliès. Beautiful, aren’t they?