Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

One of Arthur C. Clarke's famous laws of prediction is --

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

One of the great magics for me in my life is the medium of cinema. Cinema has the ability to create life, destroy it, re-imagine it and turn it topsy-turvy in seconds. Sometimes, I feel movies makes one a voyeur -- making us peek in characters, emotions, desires of imaginary, nevertheless real people. Sometimes, I wonder if the people in the cinema can look back at us, voyeurs in great groups, watching their every move.

It is about this great magic called the movie that this wonderful book called - The Invention of Hugo Cabret deals with.

The book is a combination of multi-page illustrations with some pages with written words. It is a massive book, a replacement for a pillow! But, one could easily complete the book in an hour; and keep coming back to it in order dig deep into the illustrations and the words.

The book starts with an introduction by Professor H. Alcofrisbas as he starts describing the story about the kid called Hugo Cabret, living in 1931, whose life changes forever during the course of this story. Hugo Cabret lives inside the railway station and makes sure all the clocks in the railway station are running properly. He is not the official time keeper; but, his uncle is. His uncle had disappeared some time back, but none of the railway official know about it. Although, the railway officer keeps dropping off the monthly cheques for the time keeper's job; Hugo Cabret does not know how to use them. So, they keep accumulating, while Hugo steals food from the various shops in the railway station to keep himself alive.

He has one goal in his life - He has some set of drawings in a treasured notebook and an automaton that does not work. But, he thinks his father had got it to work, just before he died in the fire accident. He gets the automaton and the drawings and starts working on getting the automaton to work. He feels that once he gets it to work, he would be able to read some cryptic message from his father.

One day, he gets caught by a grumpy old man who lives by selling toys near to the railway station. The old man snatches the notebook with drawings from him and keeps it to himself. The old man refuses to give it back. The old man's granddaughter, a girl who reads a lot of books, promises to retrieve it for Hugo Cabret.

The rest of the story is about how the girl and Hugo Cabret retreive the book and try to understand the mystery and the hidden message in the automaton. I would not reveal more than this. But, the rest of the story leads to the story of the Georges Milies, the creator of the first science fiction movie in the history of world cinema - A trip to the moon

It is great combination of fictionalizing based on a real person and a real movie and writing a story around it. It would be a great read and source of entertainment for kids above 10+ (or any one who can start reading English). I enjoyed it a lot. Why don't you try it too?


Anonymous said...

Since having kids, I find I don't have much time to read adult novels. While in the children's section of my local library, I started to take out Young Adult novels. I took out "The Invention of Hugo Cabret and was captivated. The illustrations and the story are wonderful and it's an accomplishment to finish a book!

Choxbox said...

An awesome review Sathish - it is a fabulous read indeed!

Apparently by end-2011 year a movie based on the book is going to be released - Ben Kingsley features in it too. Look forward to the movie now!

Related Posts with Thumbnails