Posted on Monday, March 15th, 2010 by Russ Fischer
Martin Scorsese‘s upcoming adaptation of The Invention of Hugo Cabret had already been sounding pretty good. One of the living masters tackling his first family oriented film? How could that not be intriguing? Now he’s got two new names that could liven up the cast: Ben Kingsley and Sacha Baron Cohen. Even better: Kingsley would play one of cinema’s pioneering greats.
Deadline reports that both are working on deals to appear in the film about Hugo Cabret, “an orphan who lives in the walls of a Paris train station in 1930.” Sacha Baron Cohen would be the train station inspector, while Kingsley would play George Méliès, the early filmmaker behind A Trip the Moon, who has a big role in the story.
I hadn’t realized that Méliès played a part in the tale, and knowing that makes Scorsese’s interest in the project much more clear. Méliès is one of the foremost practitioners of early special effects in films; he’s been called the inventor of many cinematic tricks, and his films are some of the earliest examples of science fiction, fantasy and horror on celluloid. He’s a natural subject for the cinephile Scorsese.
And having Méliès played by Kingsley, whose work in Scorsese’s Shutter Island was far more adroit and nuanced than the early trailers made it appear, sounds like a wonderful thing. Sacha Baron Cohen, meanwhile, is a very able actor who has too few appearances outside of his stable of Da Ali G Show characters. I’d love to see what Scorsese does with him.
Not familiar with Méliès? The website for The Invention of Huge Cabret has a collection of links and info, and Glenn Kenny recently posted a beautiful still image from a new collection of rediscovered Méliès work. (An image which, as it happens, has been my desktop background since Kenny posted it.)