Martin Scorsese is one of the best directors working in the industry today. In his cavalcade of mature and grown-up films, there are not many for kids. His 2011 film Hugo was a unique piece of his overall filmography. The story follows young orphan, Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield), who lives in the walls of a Paris train station in 1931. Hugo eventually stumbles into a mystery involving his late father (Jude Law) and the automaton he had invented.
Arrow Video released both a 4K UHD Limited Edition and a Blu-ray Limited Edition and the following review is based on the Blu-ray edition.
The results created a film that divided audiences and critics upon release. Its whimsy ode to silent films is impressive, but something audiences couldn’t connect with. That would include myself as someone who dare say found the movie “boring” at the time. Upon rewatching, that analysis shows that Hugo was a film that I was unprepared for. Watching it again years later shows it is a thoughtful discussion of film preservation, while also a story about family.
While uneven, Hugo is by no means a bad film. Scorsese’s passion for cinema shines, creating a project to plead with audiences about the cinema. Its messaging of film preservation is passionate but unable to resonate with all audiences. While being based on a children’s book, Hugo works when discussing cinema’s history, and not the characters’ cliched backstories. That is not to say that children cannot have any fun while watching.
Scorsese’s love of this time period creates something visually stunning. In this newly released transfer by Arrow Video, Hugo is a visual feast. Audiences of all ages will be delighted with bright and richly textured images. No matter how elevated the film production design may seem, it always feels palpable. Whether this is your first watch or 100th, the stakes feel heightened for everyone. This release’s special features help enhance the experience. There are a total of 15 behind-the-scenes features and one trailer.
Every featurette will help enhance your viewing experience. Three featurettes in particular enhanced my appreciation for the film. The featurette “Shooting the Moon: The Making of Hugo” is a well-rounded behind-the-scenes look. While it is the generic featurette describing the overall filmmaking process, it is still informative. Listening to Scorsese’s passion for film preservation resonated with me upon my viewing.
Two other featurettes help to create a more meaningful watch of the film. “The Cinemagician: Georges Méliès” featurette was another important highlight in my rewatch. For those who do not know, Méliès (played by Sir Ben Kingsley in this film) was a pioneer of narrative movies. In 16 minutes, audiences learn plenty about his role in cinema history. It is a very insightful featurette that will make fans appreciate the movie-making process. The second featurette, “The Mechanical Man at the Heart of Hugo,” was another interesting behind-the-scenes look. This featurette will be considered slow by a certain amount of viewers. Learning about the intricacies and history of the automaton’s creation is a very insightful history lesson. An argument can be made to watch this feature before you watch the movie. Learning about the automaton can give the film an even deeper meaning. That is why this is one of the best features of this release.
Hugo’s home release by Arrow Video was an interesting watch. The film itself consists of the same story problems all these years later. The first hour is a chore for viewers who are not prepared for it. Its second hour helps deliver a heartfelt and meaningful conclusion. Those who are willing to take the journey will be richly rewarded. Add in the film’s numerous bonus features and this is an absolute must. If you simply dislike Hugo or consider it slow (which is entirely understandable), this release might not do it for you. Regardless, it is definitely the sort of home release that will make you appreciate the end result.
Hugo 4K UHD Blu-Ray Limited Edition Bonus Features:
- 4K Ultra HD (2160p) debut of the 2D version of the film
- Includes High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation of the film in 2D and 3D
- Double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tommy Pocket
- Illustrated collector’s booklet with writing by film critic Farran Smith Nehme
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tommy Pocket
Discs One & Two – Feature & Extras (Blu-Ray + 4K Ultra Hd Blu-Ray)
- 4K Ultra HD (2160p) presentation of the 2D version of the film in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)
- High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation of the film in 2D and 3D
- DTS-HD MA 7.1 and 2.0 audio options
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Audio commentary by filmmaker and writer Jon Spira, publisher of The Lost Autobiography of Georges Méliès
- Theatrical trailer
Disc Three – Bonus Disc (Blu-Ray)
- Inventing Hugo Cabret, a new interview with Brian Selznick author and illustrator of the original novel on which the film is based
- Capturing Dreams, a new interview with director of photography Robert Richardson
- The Music of Dreams, a new interview with composer Howard Shore
- Ian Christie on Hugo, a new interview with the acclaimed film historian and editor of Scorsese on Scorsese
- Secret Machines: Hugo and Film Preservation, a new visual essay by filmmaker and critic Scout Tafoya
- Creating New Worlds, a new featurette in which French film historian and author Julien Dupuy examines the life and the legacy of Georges Melies and his impact on cinema and special effects
- Papa Georges Made Movies, a new featurette in which film critic and historian Pamela Hutchinson explores the days of early cinema
- Melies at the time of Hugo, a new a visual essay by filmmaker and writer Jon Spira
- Five archival featurettes on the making of the film – Shoot the Moon: The Making of Hugo, The Cinemagician: Georges Meliés, The Mechanical Man at the Heart of Hugo, Big Effects, Small Scale, and Sacha Baron Cohen: Role of a Lifetime
Available on 4K UHD Blu-ray and Blu-ray Limited Edition from Arrow Video July 18th, 2023.
For more information, head to the official Arrow Video Hugo webpage.
To purchase, head to the MVD Entertainment Group Hugo webpage.