I went to watch Hugo with very little knowledge of what the film is about and I think the impact was very strong. So if you haven't seen the film and haven't looked at its IMDB go watch the film and then come back and read this. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Let me begin by saying that no one I know hates 3D more than I do. I have already deployed my personal battle with 3D glasses in the account of My Avatar esperience, but my detestation of 3D is deeper and stronger; you see, I think films shouldn't be in 3D at all. The magic of films, for me, is its fantasy, not its reality. A film's dimensions are in its character, its story and what it might have to say, not the parading of Sony’s latest product. As someone who values visuallity as much as I do, and tends to feel others dismiss it to easily, I get quite emotional about it, and I vowed never to watch a 3D film unless I know of a really good reason for the 3D. I kept my promise and even with my eternal love for David Tennant and Marti Noxon, I am still waiting for Fright Night to come out on DVD, because I couldn't find and 2D screening of it. It’s a matter of principal; I refuse to contribute the extra money, people are forced to pay, to support this awful fad.
My heart sank when I heard Martin Scorsese, one of my favourite directors, saying he wished he could use 3D technology on Taxi Driver. A horrible scenario of Scorsese joining the Lucas and Cameron gang in chewing their old films into a pulp puking them out and presenting them again as a 3D remakes. I sighed as something inside me died and added Hugo to the list of films for DVD and Scorsese to the list of directors that Christopher Nolan and I will wave our fists at.
There is a point to this lengthy introduction, other than ranting about 3D, I promise. It was a combination of not having to pay for the film, the endless raving I have heard about the use of 3D and Scorsese's own words assuring me there was a really good reason for it, which brought me to finally watch Hugo, and I even decided to keep an open mind about the 3D of it all.
From the first frame I realised I was facing something new; every corner of every frame of Hugo is designed with 3D in mind, from stunning frame composition to awe-inspiring camera movements, like no other film I have seen before. The difference of Hugo is that it doesn’t use 3D for special effects; it uses it for the sake of 3D, it falls in love with it in the same way Scorsese fell in love with cinema, and against my will so did I.
Going to see Hugo I had very little clue, as I later discovered, as to what the film is really about. All I knew of it is that it's a Scorsese film, it’s in 3D and there were no 2D screenings of it and it’s about a boy, the actor I knew from the quite terrible The Boy in the Striped Pijamas, who lives in a train station. Because of my crusade against 3D, I didn’t even look at its IMDB, and it's a good thing I didn't, because one glance on IMDB and the effect the revelation of the film had over me would have been lost. A revelation is what the Hugo experience was for me.
The cinematic references and quotes, the historical comparison and Georges Mêliés are so accurate to the film and it is no longer a film about a boy in a train station, it's film history lesson that acknowledges, loves and is deeply grateful to the film pioneers. Hugo expresses a lot of ideas and references, specifically the famous train arriving at a station film, which represent the kind of muses I had about 3D in times of breaks from despising it, not all my musing about 3D are negative. Hugo is also very much a Martin Scorsese film; it takes its time, it lingers and it enjoys doing it and I enjoyed lingering with it, soaking every second and wanting more.
Hugo is how it should be and it can't be any other way. It is the only film that shouldn't be watched any other way but in 3D, but make no mistake dear reader, my views about 3D have not changed that much. I stand by what I wrote in the introduction, with passion, and I will not hesitate to turn my back at Scorsese should he ever commit the crime of remaking any of his old films as 3D. I will continue to choose 2D screenings and push films that don’t have that option to DVD viewing. Even if Hitchcock himself came back to life and decided to continue his 3D experiments... Well, maybe I'll make an exception for Hitch, especially if he came back to life, but my point is that Hugo is one of a kind and I think it should stay that way.
There is no way for me to explain the impact of its 3D, particularly the incredible use of it with the old Georges Mêliés films, which caused me palpitations and fits of joy, had over me. I doubt there will be many other films that can or should recreate that.