David Gritten: It's a rare moment when a film jolts and delights, but Scorsese's Hugo is one of those ...
It’s hard these days to talk about "the magic of the movies" and maintain anything resembling a straight face. Anyone with a memory of cinema-going extending beyond the past 25 years – that is, grown-ups – will know what I mean. It’s now a rare event when a film jolts and delights a mass audience, not just with a compelling story, but also with a go-for-broke, epic, even reckless style of shooting and telling that story – one that uses the big screen to its full advantage and burns the film on the memory.
This idea of movie magic, as slippery and elusive as mercury on one’s fingers, caught my attention twice this past weekend. On Sunday I chaired a discussion with director Martin Scorsese, along with actor Sir Ben Kingsley and producer Graham King, about his new film Hugo, after it was screened for the audience. I asked Scorsese about the power of movies, the dreams they can summon for audiences, and he swiftly launched into a personal recollection of films he saw from his childhood days onward.
Growing up in a Sicilian district of New York’s Lower East Side, he was an inveterate movie-goer. He recalls seeing musicals, Westerns, Olivier’s Hamlet (at age six), Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, Powell and Pressburger’s The Red Shoes. He knows the year he saw them, the specific cinemas and who he saw them with (it was often his father). His passion for these movies was self-evident.