Posted December 1, 2011 by Heidi Vella in Features
 
 

Hugo


You only need to mention the name ‘Martin Scorsese’ and any self-respecting film goer’s ears will prick-up. This week, no doubt, you’ll be hearing a lot alongside the hype around his hotly anticipated new film, which, most surprisingly, doesn’t feature his recent muse, Leonardo DeCaprio. In fact, it is a decidedly un-Scorsese-like film.

You
only need to mention the name ‘Martin Scorsese’ and any self-respecting film
goer’s ears will prick-up. This week, no doubt, you’ll be hearing a lot
alongside the hype around his hotly anticipated new film, which, most
surprisingly, doesn’t feature his recent muse, Leonardo DeCaprio. In fact, it
is a decidedly un-Scorsese-like film.

Hugo is a
sort of homage to the invention of moving pictures, told through the story of
an orphan boy who lives in a train station, where his only comfort is to fix
things. It’s based on the
New York Times bestseller, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and filmed in 3D – the
first time Scorsese has ever done so –
and it’s a real pre-Christmas feel-good movie. FilmJuice’s Heidi Vella
caught up with Scorsese himself and his leading actors Ben Kingsley who plays Georges Méliès
– a key player in the early years of film, Chloë Grace Moretz – who
plays his god daughter and Asa Butterfield, AKA Hugo, to find out what they had to say about
the film and working with a legend.

This
is a movie about the power of cinema and cinema inspiring its audience – can
you remember a time you sat in the cinema and were really inspired by a film?

Ben
Kingsley:
I can
indeed, and it is wonderful to be sitting next to the man who gave me the DVD
years later [Martin Scorsese]. It was the film we both saw when we were very
young, it was called Never Take No For Answer and it was about an orphan,
again, who survived allied bombing – his parents didn’t – and his sole cow –
mode of employment, job, family, business – everything, was a donkey called
Dialetta. He was the eight year-old Mayor of the village and everyone loved him
and his donkey. I was so taken by this film and I looked very like the little
boy. I decided ‘that’s me, I’m him’, and we completely bonded on the screen.

After, in
Salford, the cinema owner spotted me and he thought I was the star of the show.
[Puts on Salford accent] Cause you know the star of the show always comes to
Salford for the show. He said to the audience here’s little ‘Peppino’[the
orphan boy] and lifted me up above the audience – I thought: ‘I could really
get used to this!’ Then I told our beloved Marty, years later, and he said I
know that movie and within 24 hours he bought me the DVD!

Martin
Scorsese:
I think
for me movies, for a long time, were a refuge in a way, because of having
asthma I was not allowed to do anything, it was 1944-5, I couldn’t do any
sports, go near anything green or animals. So I was taken to the movie theatre
very often and I saw many films in the 40s. I became enamoured of the Western
genre because what I couldn’t go near or be near was up on the screen. But I
think the film that made the most impression on me, about filmmaking and
thinking that you could actually do this yourself, was The Magic Box. My father
took me to see that in 1952 – I was nine or ten years-old. It’s not just about
the moving image but the obsession and passion of the people creating that
image. The world was experiencing major change – it was going to be such a
different society.

Chloë Grace Moretz: My mum has always been pretty
obsessed with Audrey Hepburn – as am I – and one of the first films I saw that really
inspired me to be an actor, and be someone else, was Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I
saw Audrey Hepburn and how she just lit up the screen, how she makes you smile
and her little face. When I saw that, I realised that is what I would like to – I would like to make people smile, make people dream and make them
feel that they are in that time, in that feeling.

Asa
Butterfield:
When
filming The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas something clicked within me, before that
I wasn’t really taking it seriously – it was a pass-time, extra-curricular if
you like. During half-way through I realised that this is something I really
want to do and ever since I have tried really hard to be the best I can be and
enjoy it – I love being someone that you couldn’t normally be.

Chloë and Asa, what did you think of
the films of
Georges Méliès?

Asa: I loved them. Marty gave us a lot
of homework to do and films to watch, films by George, and films he had seen
and that had inspired him. One of the first things we watched was The Magic
Box…

Scorsese: Yes, that’s right we screened
that film just to get a sense of the time and the respect and the love for the
medium.

Chloë: I remember that screening, It was
one of those magical experiences; you’re sitting there, Marty’s there and I was
like ‘this is just a real moment’’, you know, you’re not only doing a movie
with Marty, but as a young actor, 13/14 years-old, it was a real moment.

The
film comes across as a love letter to silent movies and that embryonic period.
How important is it to you that the younger generation recognise where movies
came from and that film as an entity is preserved?

Martin: I think that the problem is the
new generation, it’s a problem with every generation, which is the obligation
of the ones before to inform and to expose them to the great art of the past –
great, possibly good, maybe not very good, whatever. Many of the great painters
studied the old masters before they did their own. A school of thought is that
you don’t need to have seen anything from the past to write a play, book or
make a film or art, but I think if you do, you become aware of the older, the
masters and if you want to reject it you can. I do think it is important to
make young people aware of what was before and it’s exciting, too.

Is it different
for you guys as actors to make a 3D film?

Ben: I think with Cholë and Asa
they are so young their performance isn’t filtered through anything. It was a
great addition to the 3D discipline on the set to be working with Cholë and Asa,
who work from the heart and not from the head, because if you work from the
head in 3D it’ll spot it – you have to be utterly genuine, accurate and modest
in front of a camera. It is far more scrutinising than any close up lenses I
have ever experienced in my life. The young chaps were probably just acting as
they always act, which is with total naturalism. For me it pulled out the
stillness and modesty that I loved going into. I always tried to minimise,
minimise. The joy of the 3D and with Marty behind the camera is, however you
minimise nothing is lost, nothing is wasted – you have to combine 3d with
Marty’s all seeing eye and all loving eye as the director – no single tiny
gesture is lost from the screen.

Cholë: Acting is reacting and with this
you can’t overact, you can only react because it picks up every fibre in your
eye, it’s really a window into your soul as an actor, because what you see is
the character. It is like a black hole, it sucks you in and makes you feel
their emotion.

Is 3D
something you’d like to take into your future feature films?

Martin: Yes, it is something I would take
into my future films. I have been fascinated with 3D all my life. I don’t see
any problem if it is used appropriately for the story, why not? Same as colour,
sound, wide screen, small screen. For a period of time colour was seen as very
special, by the 1970s it was announced that all films would be in colour and we
were all appalled because there were so many good films that came out of
England in black and white. So this is what we were aspiring to, but somehow
colour became natural, the colour is part of the scene – like in Fish Tank,
it’s part of the film – but we’re also forgetting there is space. Yes, I would
like to deal with 3D as an element in the future. The equipment is getting much
more flexible and they are working on ideas about losing the glasses – so why
not!


Heidi Vella