Hugo: A Comment On Purpose

***SPOILER ALERT***: My reviews are intended to get art-observers to engage with what they have already seen and heard and may include some spoilers.  So if you haven’t seen Hugo yet, and don’t want to know what happens, you probably don’t want to read this post.


I enjoyed every minute of Hugo. At the risk of sounding like Donald Trump, I have to say that the art direction was beautiful, the cinematography was excellent, the characters were well-developed, and the narrative interwove traditional themes and complex plotlines. It might have run a bit long in places, but by the time the end credits rolled, director Martin Scorsese had earned my respect. (Not that a director with his reputation needs my respect, but hey).

The settings in which the film took place were urban and chaotic, but somehow beautiful. I loved the spectrum of tones used throughout the film: warm and soft tones dominated train station scenes, fuzzy tones dominated memory scenes, and dark and hard tones dominate scenes of isolation. I mean this is how color should be used in a film! Scorsese utilized a variety of shots throughout the film, but I really liked the shots through the number four. It was kind of a “this is how Hugo sees the world” moment.

In addition to breath-taking art direction and cinematography, the characters and story (based on a children’s book) blew my mind. The entire film is about restoration to purpose. Hugo is driven to fix an automoton that his now-deceased father brought home as a project for the both of them. He hopes that the automoton will have a message from his father. He spends the beginning of the film collecting bits and pieces to fix it, while believing his purpose is to keep the station clocks operational. In fixing the automoton, however, he crosses paths with a once-famous, now-embittered artist who has lost his sense of purpose. And this little boy named Hugo restores this artist to his purpose, while dodging an overzealous station inspector who would like nothing better than to put Hugo into an orphanage. Through his experiences, Hugo learns that his real purpose is not just maintaining the station clocks, but fixing things in general.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for a good restoration story. I think anyone who has been through a restorative process is. Sometimes in this crazy journey, we lose sight of why we’re here or we let other people dictate our purpose. Hugo really is about finding or simply rediscovering that purpose, and more than the beauty of the film itself, that is why I liked it.


Lydia Thomas holds a Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television and Film.  She likes reading, writing, watching movies, and making movies, but she is most passionate about reaching, challenging and equipping artists for Jesus Christ.


One Comment to “Hugo: A Comment On Purpose”

  1. I really liked Hugo too. I want to own it for sure!

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