Closely following yesterday’s news that Ben Kingsley and Sacha Baron Cohen have signed on for Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Deadline.com reports Asa Butterfield (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) has now been cast in the title role and Chloe Moretz (Let Me In, Kick-Ass) will play “an eccentric bookish girl” who enters Hugo’s life. Set for 2011 release, the fast-tracked film is rumored to begin filming as early as June 1. Some background on the source novel (winner of the 2008 Caldecott medal) gives us a little more insight into why Scorsese was attracted to the project:
Here is a true masterpiece‚Äîan artful blending of narrative, illustration and cinematic technique, for a story as tantalizing as it is touching.Twelve-year-old orphan Hugo lives in the walls of a Paris train station at the turn of the 20th century, where he tends to the clocks and filches what he needs to survive. Hugo’s recently deceased father, a clockmaker, worked in a museum where he discovered an automaton: a human-like figure seated at a desk, pen in hand, as if ready to deliver a message. After his father showed Hugo the robot, the boy became just as obsessed with getting the automaton to function as his father had been, and the man gave his son one of the notebooks he used to record the automaton’s inner workings. The plot grows as intricate as the robot’s gears and mechanisms […] To Selznick’s credit, the coincidences all feel carefully orchestrated; epiphany after epiphany occurs before the book comes to its sumptuous, glorious end. Selznick hints at the toymaker’s hidden identity […] through impressive use of meticulous charcoal drawings that grow or shrink against black backdrops, in pages-long sequences. They display the same item in increasingly tight focus or pan across scenes the way a camera might. The plot ultimately has much to do with the history of the movies, and Selznick’s genius lies in his expert use of such a visual style to spotlight the role of this highly visual media. A standout achievement. (Publishers Weekly)
Kingsley takes the role of pioneer French filmmaker Georges M√©li√®s. Cohen, the train station inspector. Screenplay by John Logan (Oscar nominee for Gladiator and The Aviator). Anticipating Robert Richardson as cinematographer:
Meanwhile, there‚Äôs more Scorsese for [Richardson] on the horizon: The as-yet-untitled George Harrison documentary is in post-production. They‚Äôre also likely to join forces for ‚ÄúThe Invention of Hugo Cabret,‚Äù which Richardson calls ‚Äúa sublime story about childhood and the early years of cinema, set in Paris.‚Äù
Pages from the book, after the cut, give you a better idea of the storyboard effect of the illustrations.