The Invention of Hugo Cabret Glog

            In The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick uses non-traditional techniques to tell his story.  The main technique he uses is attempting to make the book appear as an old fashion movie.  The story itself is about a young boy in Paris named Hugo who was left an orphan first by his father who died in a museum fire and then again after his alcoholic uncle abandoned him.  Hugo spent his time maintaining the town clock which was in fact his uncle’s job in order to stay out of an orphanage.  While Hugo stole food from local merchants, he also stole various mechanical parts from a toy stand.  These parts were for an automaton that his father was rebuilding when he died.  George Melies, the owner of the toy stand caught Hugo and took his notebook as a punishment.  The notebook was extremely important to Hugo because it was filled with all of his father’s notes regarding the automaton.  Hugo spent the rest of his time working for George to trying and earn back his notebook.  The more time that he spendt with George though, the more mysterious George became and the more Hugo questioned the origin of the automaton. 

            Selznick purposely sets up his book as if it were an old black and white movie.  In the introduction, he even alludes to this by explaining how he always wanted to write a book to imitate a movie.  One of the main ways that Selznick gives his book the appearance of a movie is through all of the illustrations throughout.  Many times a young adult or children’s book will have illustrations scattered throughout but The Invention of Hugo Cabret uses many pictures to equally help tell the story along with the written words.  Old fashion movies were literally many pictures taken in succession and projected on the screen like a flip book to make the pictures appear in motion.  Selznick uses this exact technique in his telling of the story by including multiple pictures in succession.  This allows the story to be told through pictures at various times throughout in addition to words.  The reader is given words at times and pictures at others to piece together what is occurring.  A great example of this is at the very beginning when the reader is shown pictures first.  The reader is introduced to the setting in Paris, Hugo going to the clock tower where he lived, George Melies at the toy booth, and even Hugo’s friend Isabel before a word is even read in the text. 

            This fusion of film and written words was extremely captivating for me and made the book very entertaining.  One effect the pictures had was that it seemed like the book was moving along quicker than a normal book as if it had motion and life to it.  One thing that I struggle with in reading is getting through extremely long descriptions and dialogues.  It seems that by the time they are over, they have lost their meanings for me.  By breaking up the descriptions with visual images, I was able to read the story and then fill in the story with my own thoughts and descriptions to go along with the pictures.  I am a big movie fan and have watched many movies that were remakes of books.  It was refreshing to read a book that replicated a movie instead of the typical movie coming after a book.  I wonder if perhaps this book could start a new trend of literature; one in which books act like movies in their appearance.  One event that I am especially looking forward to after reading this book is the Martin Scorsese film Hugo, which is the remake of this book.  It will be interesting to see how a filmmaker will approach a book that already had traits of film in it itself and still make it his own artistic work.

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