Twelve year old orphan, Hugo Cabret, lives in the railway station in Paris, keeping the clocks running and tinkering with a mechanical man that he and his deceased father were trying to fix. After being caught stealing by store owner, Georges, and befriending his goddaughter, Isabelle, Hugo discovers the tragic and mysterious connection between the old movies that he loves and the mechanical man with a secret message.

Hugo (2011) – Director: Martin Scorsese

Is Hugo appropriate for kids

By Source, Fair use,

Rating: U

Running Length: 126 mins

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley

Genre: Drama


Based upon the graphic novel ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’, ‘Hugo’ is Martin Scorsese’s first foray into family movies and, despite being much more famous and respected for his Italian-American gangster flicks, he has more than proven his directorial ability with this touching, respectful and thought-provoking story. Largely based on the real-life film maker, Georges Méliès, it is good to see a family movie focus equally on two generations and ensuring that neither age group is patronised or alienated to benefit the other.

The acting of young star, Asa Butterfield (who plays title character, Hugo) is excellent, portraying the tragedy of being an orphan with the wide-eyed wonder of youth, alongside being self-sufficient which brings with it loneliness and need for human contact. Of course, Ben Kingsley is predictably great as Georges Méliès who also struggles with a tragic past and Sacha Baron Cohen who plays Station Inspector, Gustave, is a complex man who is efficient, takes his job seriously but whose experience of struggle and suffering is just underneath the surface.

‘Hugo’ is full of genuine human emotion and experience and although this means less action and more drama which could put some people off (especially kids who are more used to fast-paced movies). However, for those who are happy to wait for a tale to unfold naturally and without a rush, ‘Hugo’ is a beautifully written, well acted, heartfelt film about life, loss and humanity.


A man is consumed by a fire, he holds his arms up to try to protect himself but is overwhelmed. The camera cuts before anything graphic is shown; it is clear from what happens as well as later diagloue, that this man has been killed.

A man takes and threatens to burn a book which holds great sentimental value to a child. The man is uncaring about the child, despite them being devastated. Because the audience knows why the book is so important, it is quite upsetting to see the boy’s feelings dismissed so callously, especially as they already have so little.

A boy is caught stealing and, after being identified as an orphan, is told that he will be taken to an orphanage. He is incredibly distressed and, while waiting to be taken away, he is held in a cage; he sobs and begs to be set free, presumably the orphanage is an awful place to be.

A boy sneaks onto some train tracks and not long later, a train hurtles towards him. The drivers see him and desperately try to stop, calling for him to get off the tracks. The boy is unable to get away and the train drives over him, ploughing into the station and crashing through a window, causing people to scream and leap out-of-the-way. Nothing graphic is shown, the camera is far enough away that the boy is not seen but as the train drives over where the boy was standing moments before, it is clear that he did not escape.

A boy has a dream, he looks down and realises that his chest is made of metal parts, the rest of his body changes, one at a time. He is shocked by this but, as this only lasts a few seconds, it is not overly frightening.

A man receives a phone call advising that someone has been found ‘deceased’. Later, he says that ‘they found his body in the Seine. It’s been down there for many months it seems’.

A man who is a drunk takes custody of a child, he stumbles around and is uncaring towards the child. He is quick to anger and, while he doesn’t physically harm them, he is quite a frightening presence.



‘Hugo’ may not be the most exciting kids’ film out there but, it is full of real drama and great acting and makes for a wonderful family movie. This movie should be appropriate for all ages.

  • Violence: 0/5
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5
  • Fear Factor: 1/5 (Some characters walk through a courtyard at night, there are huge stone, hooded figures on either side of the path they are walking on. They are faceless and ominous although the characters who see them are not afraid of them.
  • Sexual Content: 1/5 (a man tells another that his wife is pregnant, the other man asks ‘when was the last time you had relations with her?’)
  • Dialogue 0/5
  • Other Notes: Deals with themes of loneliness, being an orphan, destiny, nostalgia, determination, survivalism, acceptance, self-sufficiency, burying painful memories and accepting loss.
  • During one scene, there is around six seconds of fireworks which fill the screen.

Words by: Laura Record


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