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Director of Photography Robert Richardson 79 FAV filming on the set of HUGO, the movie version of the award-winning book by Brian Selznick 88 IL.
his seventh collaboration to date with film director Martin Scorsese,
cinematographer Robert Richardson 79 FAV shot the much-anticipated new movie Hugo, helping to create the wonderful
atmosphere that makes the director’s first foray into 3D so successful. Equally key to their success is that the film is based on great material: the
Caldecott Medal-winning children’s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by another RISD alum Brian Selznick 88 IL. The combination earned Scorsese a Golden Globe for Best Director and an acknowledgement in his acceptance speech of the pivotal role these two RISD alumni played in making the film a winner.
Set in the 1930s, both the book and the film tell the story of an orphan
named Hugo (played by Asa Butterfield in the film) who’s secretly living in the
walls of a Paris train station, where he winds the station’s clocks and
befriends an enigmatic toy seller and his goddaughter. Though the film is
something of a creative departure for a director best known for gritty films
like Taxi Driver and Goodfellas, it also deals with a subject
close to Scorsese’s heart: the story of the early days of filmmaking and the
genius of the late French filmmaker and amateur magician Georges Méliès (played
by Ben Kingsley).
Selznick says that his book was inspired in part by Méliès’ 1902 film A Trip to the Moon, in which a rocket is shown zooming towards a moon with a face on it. “All of a sudden, with a cut of the camera, the rocket goes right
into the eye of the man on the moon,” he explains. “He’s got the rocket in his
eye, and white goo is kind of coming down where the rocket hit the moon, and
he’s sticking his tongue out.”
That’s the type of
imagery that not only inspired Selznick’s incredibly detailed cross-hatched
illustrations for the book, but subsequently led Richardson to spend days
perched high atop a camera crane shooting footage to bring the film version
alive. Much of the film is shot in a magnificent recreation of the train station
built inside London’s Shepperton Studios. When the author visited the production last
summer, he initially “felt like an interloper,” he says, especially given all the period-costumed
extras and intricate details of the set that he had previously only imagined on paper.
“It was artistry on a scale I’d never seen before,” Selznick admits.
that in Hugo and the other films he
has shot with Scorsese in the last couple of years – including Shutter Island and George Harrison: Living in the Material World – the director
has been gradually taking “a more classical approach to the images,” doing
slightly less camera movement and “allowing more things to take place within
the frame.” And working in 3D proved to be especially invigorating for both of
“It sounds like a cliché, but the idea is that you’re in the world with” Hugo and Selznick’s
other characters, Scorsese told the Associated Press in talking about his
decision to film in 3D. “Every shot that we did was a discovery and an
experiment,” he notes, adding that each one felt more like a “moving sculpture”
than a static painting. Despite the learning curve of using the new
technology, Scorsese says that filming Hugo
was one of the most rewarding experiences he’s ever had making a
film. And for both of the RISD alums involved, helping the accomplished director to interpret Hugo’s story – and the story of filmmaking itself – for the big screen proved to be an equally extraordinary experience.
Hugo (the movie site, for trailers and more information)
Hugo Director of Photography Robert Richardson
Kenneth Turan’s review of the film on NPR
Magical books behind Martin Scorsese's 'Hugo’ (Telegraph UK)
Richardson is a Standout in Hollywood
Innovative Storyteller Releases Latest Wonder
, partnerships + collaborations