A few years back, I bought The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Although it’s ostensibly a children’s book, I was attracted to it because the book is a work of art in its own right. Even when the book is closed and sitting on the bookshelf, Hugo’s eye stares out at you and you feel yourself drawn to reach out and discover what lies within.

Hugo spine

The only bit of colour is the book’s cover, everything else is black or white or shades of grey.

Hugo cover

Selznick mixes pages of black and white drawings into his text, and, as befits a story that concerns Georges Méliès, the sequences of drawings, on pages edged with black, flow like an unfolding film, with pans, zooms, and cuts. Indeed, the very first page invites the reader to imagine sitting in a darkened room waiting for a film to start:


And now, a film has been made of the book. Because this is a children’s film, the director, somewhat surprisingly, turns out to be Martin Scorsese. But it makes sense when you realise that he has a great knowledge of, and affection for, the history of film. The trailer looks good (although I detest, with a passion, the sound of the trailer narrator’s voice), and the film is garnering good reviews.

It doesn’t open here in The Netherlands until next February, but, when it does, I’ll definitely make one of my rare trips to the cinema to see it.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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