APES ON FILM: The Invention of Georges Melies

Posted on: Aug 1st, 2023 By:

by Anthony Taylor
Contributing Writer


Welcome to Apes on Film! This column exists to scratch your retro-film-in-high-definition itch. We’ll be reviewing new releases of vintage cinema and television on disc of all genres, finding gems and letting you know the skinny on what to avoid. Here at Apes on Film, our aim is to uncover the best in retro film. As we dig for artifacts, we’ll do our best not to bury our reputation. What will we find out here? Our destiny.




HUGO – (2011) Limited Edition 4K Ultra HD Three Disc Set
5 out of 5 Bananas
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen
Director: Martin Scorsese
Rated: PG
Studio: Arrow Video
Region: Free
BRD Release Date: 07/18/2023
Audio Formats: DTS-HD MA 7.1 and LPCM 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Video Codec: HEVC / H.265
Resolution: 4K Ultra HD (2160p) presentation of the 2D version of the film in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible), (1080p) Blu-ray presentation of the film in 2D and 3D
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1, Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Discs: 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray Disc, Three-disc set (1 BD-100, 2 BD-50)
Run Time: 126 minutes


HUGO is Martin Scorsese’s love letter to cinema. I’m going to assume that regular readers of this column have almost all seen the movie since its release in 2011, either in the theater in glorious 3D or at home via the device of your choosing. Based on the profusely illustrated book, THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET, by Brian Selznick, the movie is as much an ode to films and those who make them as the book was to… well, books and those who write and illustrate them. Director Scorsese took the literary centric tropes of Selznick’s work and applied the cinematically equivalent ones to suit his own medium to great effect. In doing so, he makes a gentle but substantial case for film preservation, including much needed information to modern audiences of what is lost forever and what may yet be saved for posterity and why it’s important to preserve them.

The visuals, performances, music, directing, and other technical aspects of the film have been examined minutely by critics, but one of the attractions on the Arrow Special Edition release of HUGO that’s worth emphasizing is supplemental features, including producer Heather Buckley’s extended interview with author Selznick as he discusses the genesis of the book, his intentions and aspirations in creating it, and finally examining the theme of the story. He remarks that the theme was brought up with him by a fan who said they believed that the story centers around creating our own families by choosing the people one surrounds oneself with, an admitted revelation to Selznick. I see where that applies to both film and book, but my own thoughts lean more toward themes of healing ourselves through helping others heal, as Hugo (Butterfield) and Isabella (Moretz) demonstrate not only with Papa Georges (Kingsley) but with each other, and as Station Inspector Gustav (Cohen) and flower girl Lisette (Emily Mortimer) embody. Much of Hugo’s backstory supports this theme as well, without refuting Selznick’s preferred thesis.

Arrow Video’s presentation of HUGO on 4K UHD is presented in stunning 2160p in 2D, and in 3D as it was always meant to be viewed by Scorsese (in 1080p), as well as a 2D version on the included blu-ray disc. The image quality in 2D (I am not fully equipped to evaluate the 3D presentation, though the consensus among other reviewers is that there is a marked improvement from the Paramount BRD) is an order of magnitude crisper and clearer than the previous Blu-ray release, without being over-sharpened. Color fidelity is fantastic, as is density in blacks and whites. The sound is also up to speed, making this the most pleasing copy of the film I’ve seen since it’s theatrical release.

Extras include an audio commentary by Jon Spira; the theatrical trailer (HD; 2:18); as well as a third disc featuring 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 plus 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. There is also an image gallery, a folded mini poster, and an insert booklet written by Farran Smith Nehme.

HUGO is what the French might call an “event cinemalogique,” and deserves all the accolades from critics and movies fans that it has received, as does Arrow Video for the care taken in preparing this package. Most highly recommended.



Anthony Taylor is not only the Minister of Science, but also Defender of the Faith. His reviews and articles have appeared in magazines such as Screem, Fangoria, Retro Fan, Famous Monsters of Filmland, SFX, Video WatcH*Dog, and many more. He is the author of the upcoming book The Art of George Wilson from Hermes Press.

Ape caricature art by Richard Smith.

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