How Magical Is Our World: A Review of Hugo

“My friends, I address you tonight as you truly are; wizards, mermaids, travelers, adventurers, magicians . . . Come and dream with me,” Georges Méliés.


Are we ever too old to dream?

How young is too young to want to feel important?

Does everyone, and everything, have a purpose?

Hugo, the Martin Scorsese film nominated for best picture this year (and my favorite to win it), tells the story of a young boy, Hugo, who for mysterious reasons, is living inside the walls of one of Paris’s grand train stations.  Hugo Cabret spends his time keeping time, literally.  Like the clocks he keeps, this little boy has a purpose.  He is in charge of keeping the many intricately made clocks in the station running on time.  And like each one of those clocks, which are made out of thousands of pieces, each one just as important as the other, Hugo has a purpose in the intricately made universe.  However, Hugo has dreams of a grander life than that of a clock keeper.

Like a clock who has lost its main cog, Hugo is broken; he’s lost his family.  However, Hugo believes he’s been given what he needs to be fixed; a broken automaton (a miniature machine made to look like a man, that in the movie can write messages).  He believes that by fixing the automaton, which is his last connection to his father, he will find a message from his father.

Like the broken automaton, Hugo needs fixed to fulfill his true purpose.  And I am going to step out  on a ledge here, just as clocks need fixed to tell time, just as Hugo needs fixed to become more than just a clock keeper, each person in the human race needs fixed.   Each person needs something to realize that they are a part of something grander and only Christ can take us on the true grand adventure.

Stuck inside the walls of the train station Hugo Cabret is as broken as the automaton he is trying to fix.  And yet in his brokenness, Hugo believes his purpose is greater than just keeping time, he believes he has a grand purpose in the world.  All Hugo needs to do to attain that greater purpose is fix his broken automaton, but like any good story as he fixes the automaton Hugo’s life becomes more complicated.


In Hugo’s quest to fix the automaton he finds friendship.  Hugo’s story delves deeper than the quest to fix a machine.  And in the dramatic scene where he fixes the automaton, something magical happens, Hugo expects to find a message from his father, unfortunately he’s let down.  But in that moment of despair, Hugo doesn’t find the message he is looking for, but he finds what he really needs, friends and freedom from his cell of a train station.

How often in life, in our own stories, are our expectations not met, but we actually find what we need?

The message Hugo receives from the automaton draws him into a greater, grander story.  A magical story of brokenness and eventually healing.

No, we are not too old to dream.  No, age does not define importance.  Yes, we all have a purpose!

The movie hit me hard.  Our world is magical, just as there was a grander purpose for Hugo and his automaton, we all have a grander purpose.  In the every day happenings of our lives, there is something bigger going on.  Like Georges Méliés, an old toy maker in the movie who reluctantly befriends Hugo, says, we are all wizards, mermaids, travelers, adventurers,  and magicians.  We are all greater than we often give ourselves credit for and we have a grander purpose than we live for.  We are children of our creator and when we connect to him we find freedom.  He made us intricatly and then he sent us his son to fix us, to give us the message were are looking for.   The message of love and hope.

Our world is magical so why not open your eyes and dream magically.

I have decided to look for the magic, for God, in my every day.  I have talked about this in my living spiritually blogs.  I challenge you to do this with me.  As Hugo’s friend Isabelle says,”we might get in trouble,” but as Hugo responds, “That’s how you know it’s an adventure.”


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4 responses to “How Magical Is Our World: A Review of Hugo

  1. Georgie-ann

    The movie looks well-done, with precious characters too. But I haven’t seen it to comment other than these clips.

    I have been told that every good “fairy tale” is intended to be a story of the “problems” and the “journey of the soul” that finds itself “lost,” “cut off,” “broken,” and challenged by its own self and the circumstances of life — which could be “everybody’s story” in a way. There is always challenge, mystery, magic, search, effort, ideals, an enemy who provides resistance, discovery, valor, and finding “true meaning.” The supernatural elements point to a larger realm of influence and significance than what seems to “meet the eye” in ordinary life. One of the recurrent themes often includes the problems inherent in the effects of industrialization on our lives, a tendency to fall asleep in the dullness of repetitious routines, etc., (the true essence of man vs the demands and challenges of the machines he has invented!).

    Certainly the elements of Good (which is admirable and desirable, even “more perfect” and potentially quite “heroic”), vs Evil (which is noxious and undesirable, a twisted, tortured and compulsively driven, needy version of vicious predation and frustration), are dramatically intertwined. It’s nice to see a hat tip to “intelligence” and “goodness” being combined in the boy and his heritage. We are certain that they have merit, and will triumph and overcome the obstacles.

    A good “fairy tale” often invokes innocence and youth, and idealistic soul-affirming love. It brings us “in touch” with this side of ourselves. It also hints that greater “forces in the Universe” are on our side! They not only care, they know us and will willingly support us through our searches and struggles. The “heroes” may also be vulnerable to attack and/or need healing. The answers and the power needed to survive and overcome are all available, “if we faint not” while making the needed efforts to find and hold on to “our truth,” our true identity, and meaning and purpose in this life.

    As long as this “supernatural magic” leads us to transcend the “weights that so easily beset us” in this life, through the corresponding messages and power of the Gospel, we will find ourselves in very good hands that we can trust. This is not to say that there are not “imitations of truth” flying around out there, even tempting us with “short cuts,” but they are very flimsy by comparison, and will always leave us empty, unsatisfied, needing and wanting “something more.”

    Galatians 6:9 “And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.”

    Hebrews 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”

  2. Encouraging blog, Brendan. Good insight into a great movie. Let’s see it again.

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