I took this assignment as an opportunity to watch the movie Hugo, about a boy who lives in Gare Montparnasse in Paris and is in search of a message from his dead father. The film was a delightful homage to pioneer filmmaker Georges Méliès, and the two child characters were well-developed and portrayed. The lead character was a twelve-year-old boy named Hugo Cabret, and the film is an adaptation from the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick.
Hugo’s father (a watchmaker) dies suddenly, and his uncle takes him to live in the train station, where he is the clock-keeper. Hugo has a preternatural ability to fix mechanical objects. Soon after, his uncle disappears and Hugo is left to secretly maintain all of the clocks alone. Our discussion of “what is a child” is showcased in this story as Hugo has to secretly take care of and protect himself within the confines of his “home.” While he is clearly a kid, he has to do many things for himself that are usually taken care of by parents.
On a separate note, in one poignant scene, Hugo is trying to hide his crying from his new friend Isabelle. Isabelle offhandedly tells him it’s ok to cry: “Look, there’s nothing wrong with crying. Sydney Carton cries and Heathcliff too. In books they’re…they’re crying all the time.” A good message for young boys, at a time when they might be learning that crying is not something they are allowed to do.
It is hard not to notice that many of the beautifully filmed scenes involved with and surrounded by books. I mention this as a nod to Dr. Navsaria, and his encouragement to help kids to love books at the earliest of ages. In the film, books are gifts (literally) – adored and elevated in a way that reminds us all that there is wonder and adventure in those pages.
Finally, in Hugo’s search for a message from his father, he uses the same sense-making skills explained in the “Let it Go” article (though he is an older child than those in the study), displaying an example of productive consumption for his need to make sense of his situation, and answers to his questions.
Navsaria, D., MD. (2014, April 10). How Promoting Literacy is Key to Early Brain and Childhood Development. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VG-9BKBcvbo
Rowsell, J., & Harwood, D. (2015). “Let It Go”: Exploring the Image of the Child as a Producer, Consumer, and Inventor. Theory Into Practice, 54(2), 136-146. doi:10.1080/00405841.2015.1010847
Scorsese, M. (Director/Producer), Logan, J., King, G., Headington, T., Depp, J. (Producers). Warner Home Video. (November 23, 2011). Hugo [Motion Picture]. Hollywood, CA: Distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment. Retrieved from https://www.netflix.com/title/70202136