Martin Scorsese is not a name synonymous with family entertainment but in his latest movie, Hugo, he has captured the essence of early cinema and it is suitable for all ages. Scorsese grew up with film as a companion and took it on as a career; this is his reflection on the love of the medium and his inspirations for becoming a filmmaker. It feels very personal and the sentiment of wanting to pass his knowledge and passion onto the next generation is one that can’t be criticised. The film is based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick and tells the tale of a young boy who lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station. The film and the book both look back at the films of George Méliès with an affectionate eye.
Director Martin Scorsese and cast members Sir Ben Kingsley, Chloe Moretz and Asa Butterfield discuss the making of Hugo and their experiences and inspirations in film.
Movies were a refuge to me for a long period of time. Because of having asthma I was not allowed to do any sports, or go near animals etc. So I was taken to the movie theatre often, I saw many films in the 1940s and became enamoured by the western genre, but the film that I think created the biggest impression on me was 'The Magic Box'. My father took me to see it in 1952. There is something about the beauty of his obsession with the mechanism itself.
I would like to take 3D into my future films, I just happen to be a great admirer of it, because when I first saw those view masters and stereoscopic images I was taken into another space as a child. I have been fascinated with 3D all my life. If it is used appropriately for the story, the same as colour, sound, widescreen there is space for it. The 3D world I was trying to create (in 'Hugo') was magical. The equipment is getting more flexible, they are working on technology to get rid of the glasses, so why not?
Eisenstein was working in 3D when he had his heart attack, imagine an Eisenstein film in 3D! I’m not saying it should be converted, I am saying can you imagine the mind of someone like that working in 3D? There is an obligation of the generation before to inform and to expose them to the great art of the past. There is a school of thought that you don’t need to see anything of the past to express yourself artistically, but I think if we make it available one becomes aware of the older work of the masters, of the work that has come before. You can reject it, which is part of the process or think this is wonderful. It’s exciting to show to the younger generation.
Sir Ben Kingsley
'Never Take No for an Answer' inspired me to get into film. It was about an orphan who survived a bombing. His sole means of employment was his donkey called Violetta and everyone loved him and his donkey. I was so taken by this film. I looked very much like the little boy and after the screening in Salford, the cinema owner spotted me and he thought I was the star of the film. He shouted “It's little Peppino” and lifted me above the audience and I thought I could get used to this. It’s wonderful to be sitting next to the man who gave me the DVD years later (looks at Scorsese). I told Marty this story and he had of course seen it, so gave me the DVD. That was my first introduction to cinema and determined me to be in movies ever since.
Acting in 3D
Chloe and Asa are so young they are pure. Their performance is not filtered through anything and it was a great addition to the 3D discipline on set to be working with Chloe and Asa who work from the heart and not the head. If you work from the head in 3D it will spot it, you have to be utterly genuine. You have to be accurate and you have to be modest in front of the camera. It is far more scrutinising than any other close up lens I have experienced in my life. In response to the camera and Marty’s direction it pulled out a stillness and a modesty that I loved going into. I always try to minimise. The joy of 3D and Marty behind the camera is that nothing is lost, and everything is seen. You have to combine 3D with Marty’s all seeing, all loving eye as a director. No single tiny gesture is ignored.
My mum has always been pretty obsessed with Audrey Hepburn, as am I too. One of the first films I saw to inspire me to be an actor was Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I saw Audrey Hepburn, how she lit up the screen and how she makes you smile when you see her. When I saw that, I realised that was what I wanted to do, I wanted to make people smile, to make people dream to imagine they were in that time and place. That is what inspired me to be an actress.
Acting in 3D
Acting is reacting, and with 3D you can’t overact you can only react because it picks up everything, the lint in the air, the fibre in your eye. It’s really a window to your soul as an actor, what you see is the character.
It was during the filming of 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas' I decided to become an actor, it clicked in my head. It was more of a past time before. Half way through the filming I decided this was what I wanted to do, ever since I just tried really hard to be the best I could be. I love to be someone who you wouldn’t be able to be in real life, to do something impossible.
Hugo is released in the UK on 2nd December 2011