Mise en Scene
I chose from the movie Hugo, the segment in which Hugo is dreaming, and stumbles upon a key on the train tracks. As he reaches down to get it, a train nearly hits him and crashes into the station and out of the building. Then when Hugo wakes up, he sees that his pocket watch is gone, and he looks to his automaton for answers. Hugo begins a mechanical transformation, which is even more nightmarish than his first dream. He wakes with a fright, and sees everything is back to normal, but he still looks at his automaton for answers. In this scene, our eyes are attracted to things that are hidden or missing. Meaning that, when Hugo dreams the train crash, our eyes are glued to the key that he finds, and also to the train tracks. We as the audience are already anticipating the train, but Hugo is completely unaware. This scene can be broken up into two main parts. Those parts are the train crash and the mechanical nightmare. Our eyes are most focused to the key in the first dream, and the watch in the second. These objects represent what is lost in Hugo’s life, and how he desperately tries to find them. The angle of the camera is usually from Hugo’s point of view. When he looks down at the tracks, the camera is faced downward with him. The angle of the camera is also faced upward, when Hugo looks at the train, and also to the station. In Hugo’s dream, the camera begins at eye level, but actually transitions to looking down at Hugo, as if his father is the one watching his transformation. The camera is usually very close to the action, starting with Hugo on the tracks, it is right there with him. When it shows the devastation that the train wreaks in the station, it is much further from the action, especially when the train breaks through the station, and falls into the street. But in the other scene, the camera is very close as Hugo is in a small room, and the camera takes very strong close-ups to Hugo. In the first dream, the color values are bright, along with high lighting. The whole scene is very easy to see, and is very bright as well. The destruction is not diminished because of low lighting or dark colors. The filter however, seems to be adjusted to greater brightness, and the film seems hued with yellow. The brightness and color of the scene exhibits some childlike innocence, as Hugo does not think of the repercussions of his actions on the track. The brightness also symbolizes the children’s book, I believe. That is because the world is so bright, and it does not darken for the rampage of the train or the threat of death. A child does not fear a train in the station, no matter what it is doing. All of this is normal in a children’s book. A subsidiary contrast is the automaton. No matter what happens, no matter the strange dreams, the audience and Hugo are drawn to look at the automaton. And the lifelessness of that machine is a lasting impression on the viewer. This is because both Hugo and the audience are expecting to see the automaton move, and every time we are let down. That only fuels us, and we are even more drawn to the machine every time. In the second part of the dream, the colors are all dark except for the metal, which seems to almost shine. The darkness of the room symbolizes where Hugo truly is. He is not down in the station with his family, all happy and bright. He is in the underbelly of the station, where the only true color is darkness. The despair of this place represents Hugo’s fears of failure, and also the reminder of his loneliness. The strange hue is gone in this dream, and the camera only emphasizes the darkness by filming it as is. When Hugo begins transforming, the space around him distorts. It seems as though he is two-dimensional, as is everything around him. The cogs and the wheels begin to spin like on his machines, and Hugo slowly becomes the automaton. Now this is not strictly two dimensional, but I believe that for this scene, Scorsese had in mind to make it seem more like the book. The two dimensional book would be very close to this scene, as Hugo seems to be the only thing not quite two dimensional, but that only gives him depth, the way the book would have drawn him as some three dimensional design. The density of the second scene is remarkable. When Hugo transforms, every piece of metal or cog seems to light up on the screen. The metal seems to not have much detail, but in fact the metal has small scratches, dents, or are dirty from use. This shows great detail in my eyes, and is the best use of detail in old machinery. In the first dream, Hugo is not spatially impaired. For the beginning of the dream, he can move freely in the station, but when he is on the tracks, he has no room to move. The busyness of the station almost forces him on the track, mainly because I think that the entire dream is pushing him to that key. The second dream however, Hugo is offered a bit more room. His small room however does keep him a bit enclosed. This part is a bit more tight while he lies on the bed, but as the dream progresses, Hugo freely jumps up and runs from his transformation. Although I would have to say that the framing is very tight, as Hugo is usually forced into the situations that he is in, especially in his dreams. Hugo always is present in the center of the screen. All attention is focused on him at all times. The depth of the first scene is very simple. As the train destroys its way into the station, the foreground is the space right in front of the camera, the train is always the midground, and the background is always the shops of the station. This is done to keep complete focus on the train, while also showing the ridiculous nature of where it is. It is a train in a train station, but it is not on the tracks. Scorsese keeps the childlike wonder of the book powerful by using strange occurrences throughout the film. The space between characters is usually wide. For instance when the ordinary people have a train running through their station, they all run in different directions from the carnage. Even the train workers are far away from each other, even in that confined space. Usually all of the characters have plenty of space between each other. I found that Scorsese did a fantastic job with “Hugo” through my analysis, and there are many more underlying themes present in “Hugo”.