The Invention of Hugo Cabret Summary
Oh, Hugo. He’s the kind of scrappy, smart kid that adults are constantly chasing after while they stomp around all Elmer Fudd-like, calling him a “wascally wabbit.” He is a twelve-year-old boy who lives in a train station.
Wait. Why? Prepare yourself for a bummer: our guy's an orphan, and his uncle, who's supposed to be taking care of him, is an unpredictable drunkard who just so happens to have disappeared. So Hugo runs the clocks in the station, and spends his days avoiding the Station Inspector (who is quite the unpleasant character).
But when he gets caught stealing a toy mechanical mouse to use in his attempt to repair this mysterious machine—an automaton—that he’s trying to fix, everything starts to get a little bit messier.
The old man who catches him is named Georges Méliès, and he owns the toy booth. He has a goddaughter named Isabelle, who tries to help Hugo out, even though her uncle is more than a little peeved at the kid. So peeved, in fact, that he takes Hugo's precious notebook, which contains all the notes on how to fix that automaton of his. Hugo agrees to work at the old man's toy booth for a while if the old man might (just might) give back his notebook.
And so begins Hugo's first job, and a friendship, too. He and Isabelle start to hang out a lot, and he meets her friend Etienne. All seems to be going well enough, until George storms into the toy booth in a towering temper and accuses Hugo of sneaking into his house to steal back the notebook. Not cool dude.
Of course, Hugo immediately knows that Isabelle did it. She's a curious little thing. So when he goes to hug Isabelle goodbye, he snatches away her necklace, which he’s noticed looks strikingly like the keyhole in the back of the automaton’s body—a keyhole he's always wondered about. He goes off to find the automaton, with Isabelle hot on his heels. She bursts on the scene and demands her key back.
But then something extraordinary happens.
Hugo sticks Isabelle's key into the back of the automaton, and the little mechanical man immediately begins to draw a picture. Of what, you ask? Of a scene from A Trip to the Moon, one of Hugo’s dad’s favorite films.
They are even more surprised, though, when the automaton signs a name at the end: Georges Méliès.
Hugo follows Isabelle back to her apartment, where they confront Mama Jeanne about the drawing. She shoos them into the bedroom, telling them that Hugo needs to sneak out after Papa Georges falls asleep.
But the kids won't be satisfied with that plan. So they do some major snooping and find a bunch of drawings by Georges. Of course Isabelle chooses this particular moment to turn into a giant klutz. She falls of a chair and makes a huge ruckus, prompting Georges to bust in all hot and bothered about something. Mama Jeanne sends him to bed, telling the kids that he's running a fever and is very, very upset. Uh oh.
Isabelle and Hugo decide to keep the toy booth running in order to buy the medicine for Georges to get better. In the meantime, inspired by his snooping, Hugo goes to investigate at the Film Academy and finds out that Georges Méliès was a very important filmmaker—and that the world thinks he’s dead. Dun dun dun.
He gives the scoop to Etienne, and Etienne tells his teacher, Rene Tabard. Without consulting anyone first, Hugo invites them over to meet Georges, which spells ten kinds of trouble. When they all show up at the apartment, hoping to learn all about Georges's past, Mama Jeanne lets them in but tells them they cannot meet Georges because he wants to put his past behind him.
But Monsieur Tabard ain't havin' that. He tells a story about how Georges inspired him when he was a little boy and instilled in him the love of film. He also says that they brought one of Georges’s movies, which Mama Jeanne agrees to let them watch quickly.
Unfortunately, when he hears the sound of the projector, Georges comes out, grabs the projector, and locks himself in his room. The others bust in, and Georges tells them all about his moviemaking past.
After he’s finished telling his tale, he asks Hugo if he’ll go back to the train station and bring him the automaton. Of course, Hugo agrees, but along the way he gets some shocking news—his uncle is dead, and has been for quite some time.
The news startles Hugo and he drops a bottle of milk that he’s stealing, and soon the booth keepers and the dreaded Station Inspector are chasing after him. In all the commotion, he falls onto the tracks, and a train is headed his way fast. Just when he thinks he's facing certain death, a hand reaches down and grabs him—it's Georges. And he's wearing a magician's cape.
Okay. Now fast-forward six months. We catch up with Hugo, who's living with Georges Méliès and his family. He’s back in school and the whole family is going to an event hosted by the Film Academy that’s supposed to celebrate Georges Méliès's works and life. They go to the theater and watch some beautiful, amazing, and most of all, magical movies together.
Part 1, Chapter 1
Note: The Invention of Hugo Cabret isn’t a book in which one word comes after another, all marching in a straight line. No way—this book uses illustrations not just to complement the story, but to tell it too. What do you expect from a book that focuses on the film industry, right? In this summary, we’ll be telling you what happens in the text—and outside of it, too. But we'll be sure to tell you when we're dealing with images, and when we're dealing with text.
- Welcome to the opening sequence of illustrations. The first thing we see is the full moon in a small square in the middle of a black page.
- A flip of the page, and the moon is surrounded by stars, still in the middle of a black page, though now, there’s less black space.
- Another flip of the page and we see the moon in the sky overlooking a grid of city lights. The tower glowing in the distance is the Eiffel Tower. Bonjour, Paris!
- The next page shows the sun coming up on the horizon and all those houses and buildings (yes, including La Tour Eiffel) being lit up. And that black border around the page keeps getting smaller… It's almost as if we're zooming in.
- The sun shines over a big, stately building of some sort with arched doorways and a large clock. There are old timey cars parked out front.
- The next image zooms in on one of those arched doorways. There are plenty of busy-looking people coming in and out.
- The next image shows the crowded, bustling inside of a building—probably the one we just saw. There are the same arches inside, and people seem to be pushing against each other. Though we mostly see the backs of people’s heads (boy is that a lot of hats!), we do see the side profile of one boy who seems to be highlighted in the picture.
- Boom! The next picture is a close-up of the boy, who's looking over his shoulder, but why?
- In the next picture, we see the boy going up the stairs with his hand on the finely wrought metal banister. People are going down the stairs and passing him.
- The next picture shows the little boy in the middle of the large building, which has great open spaces and grand columns. And what’s that coming into the building? Are those some trains with puffs of smoke coming out the top? Ah, now we're talking. We're in a train station.
- The boy goes into a large, dark hallway. Where to, little boy? Where to?
- In the next picture, we see the boy inside the dark hallway, looking shifty as he stands next to a grate.
- Then, we see a close-up on the fancy grate, with the boy’s hand on it. Oh, he's totally gonna open it.
- A close, close-up of the grate, and the boy’s shoe disappearing into it. We didn’t know you could fit a whole person in that grate.
- In the next picture, we see a shop of some sort through the opening in the hallway, with an old man sitting at the counter. The sign says “Jouets.” Must be some of that French kicking in.
- On closer (literally—in a close-up) inspection, we see the old man sitting at the counter resting on his elbow. He looks either asleep or unhappy. His shop is filled with all sorts of old-fashioned toys.
- Boom! Another close-up, this time of the old man’s face as he looks to the side. He has a mustache and a beard.
- An even closer close-up of just the old man’s eye follows. Goodness, that’s a large eye.
- On the next page, we see a big fancy clock pointed at one twenty-six.
- We get a close-up of the number 5, where we can see an eye peeking through. That little boy is looking out from the clock.
- Then we get the inside view. We, like the boy, are looking out on the shop where the old man is now sitting upright and talking to a little girl with a bob haircut.
- Finally, we’re starting with some words. The boy who is hiding behind the clock (a weird hiding place, huh?) is named Hugo, and he’s watching the folks down at the toy booth argue.
- Hugo often sees the little girl, who goes to the toy booth a lot.
- Hugo also thinks that the old man might seem kind of upset because he’s noticed that some of his toys are missing—which is a fact that Hugo knows, because, well, Hugo took them.
- Another close-up, this time of the girl looking over her shoulder. She has bangs and a bob haircut.
- Hugo creeps through the walls (how do you do that, anyway?), and crawls through the air vent until he reaches the toy booth.
- He’s about to steal a wind-up toy mouse, but the old man (who only looked like he was sleeping) grabs his arm and calls for the Station Inspector.
- Hugo really can’t deal with the Station Inspector right now. That would just be way, way too complicated.
- So he tries to make a run for it, but the old man stops him and forces him to turn out all his pockets.
- He turns out all his pockets, pulling out screws, nails, playing cards, and all sorts of stuff. But there’s one thing that he wants to keep hidden—his notebook.
- Alas, the old man finds it anyway and opens it, flipping through.
- The first image shows just the old man’s big, ragged thumbnail resting on the corner of a page. The page shows some gears and a strange man—a robot, perhaps—sitting at a desk like he’s about to start writing.
- The next image is that page a little closer (and more of the old man’s hand).
- On the next page, the picture has super zoomed in on the strange man, whose chest seems to be made of all sorts of gears and doodads.
- And the next page is just his face, which isn’t a human face. It’s more of a mask, or a robot face.
- Hugo yells at the old man to give his notebook back. Who’s the thief now, anyway?
- The old man asks him where he got the notebook and whether or not he stole it. Then the old guy tells Hugo that it’s his now and he just might burn it.
- He seems awfully concerned with who drew the pictures, but Hugo doesn’t say anything and instead runs away.
Part 1, Chapter 2
- Hugo goes back into the vent in the wall. That’s some serious movie spy stuff.
- Hugo crouches in front of the vents.
- In the next image, we see his figure going through a narrow passageway filled with all sorts of pipes and whatnot. He’s obviously not in a part of the train station that’s open to the public.
- A shoe! It's Hugo’s shoe, which is coming unlaced.
- The next picture shows him making his way up a winding staircase. How does this kiddo know where to go, anyway?
- We see his foot disappearing behind a corner. Wait for us, Hugo! This train station’s practically a maze.
- Now we see Hugo’s back as he pushes through a door.
- Hugo pushes into the room, which leads to a bunch of apartments that the people who used to run the train station lived in. Only one is in use now—Hugo’s.
- Hugo starts working, going through all the clocks in the building and making sure that they’re still running. He winds them all and oils them. And you thought going to school was hard.
- He goes to the clock that overlooks the ticket booths and attaches a crank to its back.
- There’s little Hugo, winding the crank on the big clock. He's pretty strong for such a little guy.
- Hugo makes sure the clock is working correctly and looks out through the numbers, which are kind of like windows.
- Then he goes through the passageway to the back of the clock opposite the old man’s toy booth.
- Like a true spy, Hugo watches the old man flipping through the pages of his notebook.
Part 1, Chapter 3
- The old man is closing up his shop, but Hugo is sneaking up behind him, like a tiger stalking its prey.
- He’s not sneaky enough, apparently, because the old man spots him and asks him what his name is.
- Hugo tells him and asks for his notebook back, but the old man tells him that he’s going to burn it. That seems a little mean.
- Hugo thinks it’s mean too and yells at the old man as they walk out of the train station.
- Outside the train station, snow is falling and it’s dark. We see a lit streetlamp as Hugo and the old man make their way down the street.
- Hugo follows the old man around a corner. This is one brave kid. He looks pretty cold, though. Maybe he wasn’t ready for the snow.
- As he walks down the street, we see a closer image of Hugo’s face as he looks over his shoulder.
- They’re still walking down the street, and Hugo looks back at their shadows as the old man (who is wearing quite the jaunty hat) continues walking with his hands in his pockets. Where is he going?
- We see the old man pass through a gate of some sort and Hugo follows him—into a graveyard. Now this is getting creepy.
- Hugo and the old man get to an old apartment building across from the graveyard. Gee, that's a lovely spot.
- The old man opens a door, goes inside, and slams it shut, leaving Hugo outside. How rude.
- Poor Hugo's standing outside in the cold in front of a very large, very closed door next to a creepy old graveyard with raised tombstones.
Part 1, Chapter 4
- Hugo stands in the dark outside for a moment. Then he throws a stone at the window. Who does he think he is, Romeo?
- Believe it or not, a girl actually opens her curtains and looks out.
- We see the face of the girl with the bob haircut peering through the windows. Who is she? And why those bangs?
- Hugo recognizes her as the girl from the toy booth.
- She slips out of the building and asks him who he is. Hugo says that her grandfather stole his book from him.
- The girl says that the old man’s name is Papa Georges and that he’s not her grandfather. She also says that she’ll make sure that Papa Georges doesn’t burn Hugo’s precious notebook.
- We see a blurry shadow of Hugo running off into the snowy night. We can hardly see him through all the pencil strokes, which look quite flurry-like to us.
Part 1, Chapter 5
- This little piggy went to market. This little piggy went to town. And this little piggy (Hugo) runs all the way home back to his secret apartment in the train station.
- He goes to a secret hiding place in the wall and pulls something out. Guess what it is?
- Hugo's uncovering a little man sitting at a desk poised as though he’s about to write something… wait, this looks a little familiar. Talk about déjà vu.
- In the next image, we get a close-up of the little man’s face, which looks just like the drawings from Hugo’s notebook—masklike.
- The little man, whatever he is, is made completely out of clockwork and other machinery.
- How did all this come about? Well, we’re about to embark on a rather sad back-story.
- You see, Hugo’s father used to own a clock shop and also took care of the train station clocks.
- One day, he came home with an automaton that he found in the attic at the museum where he worked.
- What is an automaton, you ask? Well it’s a wind-up figure that does something when it’s working—and this one writes. It was broken though, so Hugo wanted his father to fix it.
- We see Hugo’s father sitting at his workshop, wearing glasses and poring over some sort of thingamabob. He was absolutely surrounded by all sorts of machinery and clocks—kind of like a crazy scientist.
- Hugo’s father filled up notebooks with drawings of the automaton, as he opened and closed the automaton to look at all its parts.
- He tries to work on it and bring it back to life.
- But then one night, something very bad happened—the guard at the museum didn't realize that Hugo’s father was working in the attic and he locked the door.
- Uh oh. Flames were coming from inside a cracked window.
- The next thing Hugo knew, his Uncle Claude arrived to tell him that there had been a fire at the museum and that Hugo’s father was dead. Bring out the tissues.
- Hugo was obviously kind of shell-shocked at this news, but Uncle Claude, who smelled like alcohol, sure didn't sugarcoat things to make them any easier.
- He told Hugo that he was going to live with him at the station and be his apprentice. Hugo was not even going to go to school anymore.
- So Uncle Claude taught the kiddo all the tricks of the clock-tending trade. Oh, and because he was such an outstanding role model, he also taught Hugo to steal.
- As time passed, Uncle Claude started to disappear for hours at a time. And then one day he disappeared altogether.
- So what did Hugo do? He left the station to go for a walk. As he walked, he passed the ruins of the museum where his father died, and he saw something in the rubble.
- It was the automaton, lying on its back (and looking kind of torn up, naturally) in a pile of junk.
- Hugo sat down and took a gander at the little thing. Eventually, he picked it up and brought it back to the train station, where it now resides.
- The automaton seemed to want him to fix it (creepy or hallucinatory?), and Hugo decided to try.
- He stayed at the train station, keeping the clocks running and hiding from the Station Inspector because if he knew Hugo was there alone, he’d surely send him to an orphanage.
- Hugo has managed to stay invisible in the train station for three months. And now he has to get that notebook back so he can keep working on the automaton.
Part 1, Chapter 6
- The next day, Hugo goes to the toy booth, and what does he get for his persistence?
- A handkerchief. That’s right.
- We see an open palm holding a handkerchief that’s overfilling with something dusty or dirt-like… could it really be ashes? Did the old codger burn his notebook?
- They are ashes, and Hugo is not a happy camper. In fact, he starts crying. And then the old man starts crying, too. What is this, a Nicholas Sparks movie?
- Hugo runs off and tries to distract himself with his work taking care of all those clocks.
- Forlorn little Hugo lies alone in a corner of his apartment. There’s all this stuff around the room, including a huge chest and all sorts of bottles and knick-knacks. Hugo may have a grown-up job, but it looks like he still has a little kid’s messy room.
- The next day, Hugo the thief manages to scrounge together enough coins to buy a cup of coffee.
- And when he picks up his coffee again, o-ho! We see a piece of paper telling him to meet someone at the bookseller’s—and that his notebook wasn’t burned.
- Looks like Hugo isn’t the only sneaky person in this story.
Part 1, Chapter 7
- Hugo enters the bookstore and looks around—and sees the girl.
- The girl with the bobbed haircut sits in the middle of a rather messy, very cluttered bookstore filled with books (duh) and an assortment of other fancy cultural items like busts of famous people. She’s holding a book to her chest.
- She tells Hugo that Papa Georges still has his notebook. Then she tells the bookstore owner (Monsieur Labisse) that she’s taking a book on photography and will bring it back.
- Time to go confront the old man. Hugo stomps on over to the toy store and asks him about the notebook, but he just gets shooed away again.
- He tries again and again, and on the third day, the old man just hands him a broom and tells him to help out.
- After Hugo sweeps, the old man tells him to go buy a croissant and coffee for him. Then he hands Hugo the toy mouse that was destroyed when he was caught stealing and tells him to fix it.
- He's really putting this kid to work.
- We see Hugo standing at the toy counter with a tool and the little mouse in his hands. We also see the old man, though we can only make out the bottom of his face and his mouth set in a very, very severe straight line. He has a spectacular mustache. Spectacular.
- Zoom in on a close-up of Hugo with a different tool in his hand, still at work on the mouse.
- Zoom in again, and we see Hugo working on the mouse’s rear end, fixing something with a very precise tool.
- Then we see an image of the mouse running around on the counter after Hugo’s set it down. This is one handy kid.
- The mouse is utterly fixed and the old man asks Hugo about the drawings in his notebook.
- Hugo isn’t a sucker though and he tells the old man to give it back first.
- But the old man isn’t a sucker either, and he tells Hugo that if he wants his notebook back, then he’ll have to come to the booth every single day and help him fix toys.
- Hugo doesn’t have any choice but to agree.
- Well played, old man. Well played, indeed.
Part 1, Chapter 8
- Hugo goes to work at the old man’s shop. He’s not just a slave, though—he still steals all the little mechanisms from the toys that he wants, the sneaky boy.
- The old man does some crazy amazing card tricks and Hugo asks him to show him how he does it. After one trick, the old guy tells Hugo to go back to work.
- When the old man falls asleep, the girl comes up to Hugo and tells him to meet her at the bookstore in ten minutes.
- She's started looking for Hugo’s notebook, to which you would hope Hugo would say thanks, right?
- No dice. He freaks out and tells her not to look inside. She's more than a little ticked at his less-than-grateful response.
- Then a young man enters the bookstore.
- You know what's coming next: a close-up image of a young man’s face (this book really likes focusing on those faces, huh?). He has a newsboy cap on and, most notably, an eye patch. Yo-ho, yo-ho.
- The young man’s name is Etienne and the girl greets him. He calls her Isabelle—so now Hugo's got her name (and we do, too).
- She also introduces him to Hugo and says that Etienne sneaks her into the movie theater, since Papa Georges (the old man) won’t let her watch them.
- Hugo tells them that his father always took him to the movies for his birthday, and that he last saw a movie with a man hanging from a giant clock. The movie was called Safety Last.
- This time it’s not an illustration! We see a photograph of a man wearing an old school boater hat and big spectacles hanging from the hand of a clock. This must be the movie that Hugo saw. (And in fact, it totally is.)
- Etienne tells the two kids that he can sneak them into the movie theater next Tuesday. They're totally game.
- Hugo goes one way in the bookstore, roaming among all the scattered books.
- Then we see Hugo going the other way. Wow. This is one messy bookstore. There are books stacked every which way.
- Then we see Hugo’s head as he stands in front of a whole wall that’s made of shelves of books.
- Hugo’s hand rests on a book—which seems to have some cards on the cover.
- Hugo finds a book called Practical Manual of Card Magic and Illusions and tries out a bit of magic himself. As in, he tries to leave the store with the book without paying. Um, Hugo, last we checked, shoplifting was not magic.
- Etienne catches him though and gives him the money to go pay for the book.
Part 1, Chapter 9
- After a hard day’s work (remember, Hugo still has his day job of taking care of all those clocks!), Hugo settles down with the magic book and reads it cover to cover.
- Hmm. This book just might come in handy. So Hugo takes out the mechanical man and starts working on it. Even without the notebook he manages to make some progress.
- Weeks pass. Hugo keeps working with the clocks, at the toy booth, and on the automaton at night. He's a busy little bee.
- When he meets Isabelle at the theater (so Etienne can sneak them in), she says that she might have an idea of where his notebook is.
- Hugo goes inside and asks the manager (a man with slicked hair and a cigarette) where Etienne is. The man says that he’s fired Etienne because he was sneaking children into the theater.
- With that, Isabelle and Hugo have no choice but to sneak into the theater themselves. Isabelle uses a bobby pin to jimmy the lock and they go inside to wait for the movie to start.
- There’s a drawn curtain. It’s both drawn (in the illustrated sense) and drawn (in the closed sense). Ba-dum ching!
- The curtain pulls apart to reveal a blank, black screen.
- The next image looks like a burst of light.
- We see Hugo’s face in the darkness as he watches the film.
- First come the newsreels (we don’t have those anymore), and then comes a short film about a clock store—which Hugo loves. Then finally comes he main feature, The Million.
- At the end of the movie, the manager hoists them to their feet by their collars (we thought that only happened in cartoons!) and throws them outside. Ugh, and they didn't even get to finish the flick.
- After the sneaky kids have been thrown out, they take a leisurely stroll. Isabelle tells Hugo about all the movies she’s seen—and she has seen a lot.
- When they get back to the train station, Hugo sees the Station Inspector. Bad news. He bolts, immediately, leaving a confused Isabelle behind.
- She chases him, hoping to find out where he lives.
- In the hustling, bustling train station, we see Hugo running into the crowd while Isabelle follows at some distance, determined to catch up to him.
- In the next image, we see Isabelle’s shocked face as she collides with a random stranger in the train station and starts to fall.
- The next picture shows just Isabelle, falling… falling. And as she falls, a necklace with a key on it flutters out from underneath her coat.
- We zero in on a close-up of Hugo’s worried, shocked, horrified expression. Whatever he’s feeling, his mouth is wide open.
- Then we zoom back out to picture of the train station. Except this time Hugo isn’t running away from Isabelle. He’s running toward her as she lies there, holding her head.
- The next picture shows just a hand—Hugo’s, we’re assuming.
- Isabelle reaches for that hand, and that key dangling around her neck is front and center.
- But just in case we didn't get the picture—the key is important—the next image zooms in on the key alone. It's an old-fashioned skeleton key, except the end of it—the tooth—is shaped like a heart.
- We’re not the only ones who noticed the key. As Hugo helps Isabelle up, he stares at the key and asks her where she got it.
- No dice. This girl's clever, and flips the conversation right back around to Hugo. Where does he live?
- Neither one of them will answer the question the other asked.
- This time, Isabelle runs away, but Hugo catches up with her and asks her where she got the key.
- They both go in their different directions without saying goodbye. End scene.
Part 1, Chapter 10
- Hugo gets to the toyshop and gets, well, a rather unwelcoming welcome.
- The old man marches up to him and tells him to hand it over. It being something that neither Hugo nor we are aware of.
- The old man works himself into a frenzy and accuses poor Hugo of breaking into his house and stealing the notebook. Then he kicks him out of the toy booth.
- Um, dude, Hugo totally didn’t steal it. And that's when he sees her—Isabelle, standing behind the old man, holding the notebook.
- Clever Hugo asks if he can say goodbye to Isabelle, at the very least.
- All right, all right.
- Hugo gives Isabelle a big ol' bear hug and then runs away.
Part 1, Chapter 11
- Hugo makes his way back to the apartment and pulls out his buddy, the automaton. He’s fixed it up quite a bit, fixing the different parts and even sewing it a new outfit.
- In the middle of the man’s back is a heart-shaped hole. And Hugo has just the key to fit into it.
- Hugo’s hand holds Isabelle’s necklace. That hug wasn’t all about goodwill and friendship, then!
- Hugo looks over at the magic book that Etienne paid for. It taught him a lot of things, but mostly, it taught him a very important magic trick—how to get that necklace off of Isabelle without her even knowing it.
- Shoplifting, pickpocketing. This kiddo's quite the Artful Dodger.
Part 1, Chapter 12
- Hand a’shaking, Hugo moves to put the key into the automaton, and… drumroll please… it fits!
- Just as he goes to turn it, the door rattles and Isabelle bangs into the room in a true fury, launching herself at Hugo.
- She accuses him of being a thief (fair enough) and asks him what’s going on. Hugo lies and says that the automaton was something that his dad was working on before he died.
- Isabelle isn’t convinced, though. She wants to know why her key would fit into it. Then she tells Hugo to just turn the key, already.
- Hugo doesn’t want to while she’s there, but Isabelle reaches over and does it herself.
- Resigned, Hugo gives the man a little bottle of ink and watches to see if he’ll write a secret message…
- We see the little man sitting at his desk with an inkpot in one hand and a pen in the other. Hugo and Isabelle are leaning forward, because they can't wait to see what he writes.
- As the two kids watch, the mechanical man starts moving, making marks on the page with his pen.
- We see a close-up of the mechanical man’s hand as he draws a line across the paper. If it weren’t for the gears and thingamabobs visible from underneath his sleeve, we’d be hard-pressed to say that this wasn’t a normal, human person writing.
- A different angle on the hand. We see that he’s made a few scratches on the paper, though they don’t look like letters or anything.
- In the next picture, we see the mechanical man from the back. He’s still making a series of odd scratches across the paper.
- We see an overhead view of what the man is “writing.” Is it hieroglyphics? Chicken scratch? Whatever it is, it’s certainly not in any alphabet we've seen.
- Hugo's more than a little frustrated at the nonsense flowing from the automaton's pen. All those hours fixing this thing, and it writes gibberish?
- He goes off to a corner of the room to cry, while the mechanical man keeps writing.
- Then Isabelle gasps and Hugo runs back over.
- Turns out—those chicken scratches aren’t forming words. They’re forming a picture. He's drawing.
- Oh hello, man on the moon! We see a drawing of the moon with quite the human face on it, and a rocket (or something) plunged into its right eye socket.
- Here the story takes an interesting turn, stepping outside of the narrative we’ve been following along with.
- The narrator (who knew there was a narrator?) says that the curtains on this story are drawing to a close and it’s fading to black, but that this leads us to another story. How mysterious and, dare we say, cinematic.
Part 2, Chapter 1
- To Hugo, that drawing is totally familiar. In fact, it’s a scene from his father’s favorite movie. So the message must be from his father, right?
- As he’s thinking about this, the mechanical man dips its pen into ink again and signs a name. What could this name be? Time for an…
- The nib of the pen swirls a rather complicated looking signature: “Georges Méliès.”
- Isabelle exclaims that it’s Papa Georges’ (the old man’s) name, and demands to know where Hugo got the machine from, because he must have stolen that, too.
- Even though Hugo insists the automaton is his father's Isabelle takes away the key and grabs the drawing of the moon from the desk.
- Hugo and Isabelle struggle over the piece of paper until it rips. Isabelle takes her piece and runs out of the train station. She wants to go home and ask Mama Jeanne (Papa Georges’ wife) what’s going on.
- As they run through the streets, Hugo asks Isabelle where she got the key, but of course they’re both playing their cards close to the vest. Or, maybe they’re just both really stubborn. In any case, she refuses to answer.
- When they arrive at the apartment, Isabelle opens the door and slams it on Hugo's hand, which was on the door jam to keep it open.
- Enter Mama Jeanne. She comes downstairs and checks on Hugo’s hand, and then gives him some chips of ice in a cloth napkin.
- Okay. Enough first aid. On to solving the mystery. Or at least trying to.
- Hugo gives Mama Jeanne his half of the drawing and asks her about it. She stares at it and asks where they got it. When Hugo says that a mechanical man drew it, she says it’s not possible.
- Hugo says he has the mechanical man, but Mama Jeanne still won't believe.
- Then Hugo says that he found it after the museum fire and that he made it work with Isabelle’s key—and Isabelle has to admit that she stole the key from Mama Jeanne.
- Poor Mama Jeanne. She’s just being hit with more and more surprises.
- Mama Jeanne tells hem to go into the bedroom and to not let Papa Georges see the drawing—or know anything about it.
- She ends with the rather ominous statement that she must protect her husband. But from what?
Part 2, Chapter 2
- Hidden in the bedroom, Isabelle and Hugo listen as Papa Georges enters the apartment. Mama Jeanne reminds them to be quiet, and then goes out to greet her husband.
- Isabelle and Hugo decide that they have to search the armoire. Isabelle climbs on top of a chair to look at a decorative panel—and tries to yank it off with sheer strength.
- A wide-eyed Isabelle pulls a panel off of the armoire to reveal a big box behind it. She’s pulled the panel off, and we see her eye-to-eye with the box, peering at a keyhole.
- She starts to pull it out of the hidden compartment, and Hugo looks up expectantly from below.
- Wow, that’s a big box, Isabelle! Sure you can handle that all by yourself?
- In the next image, we get the answer: a couple of chair legs snapping.
- Yikes! Isabelle falls to the ground and drops the box, spilling papers all over the place, and a thin, old blanket covered in stars and moons, too.
- The bedroom door opens and it’s Papa Georges and Mama Jeanne. Not good.
- The old woman is very upset, but Papa Georges just stands in the doorway mutely.
- Mama Jeanne gives Hugo the key to the armoire (to lock it up) and tells him to gather up all the drawings, which he does as Mama Jeanne tries to usher Papa Georges and Isabelle out of the room.
- Here we go on a journey through some of the drawings in that mysterious box! Put on your seatbelts.
- Drawing 1 shows a dragon or gargoyle type creature with some sort of contraption to its right. It’s sketched in black ink.
- Drawing 2 is quite a bit more refined (in comparison to the first) and shows a bearded man’s head emanating light through some cracks. The head is rested on a sort of stand in a laboratory.
- Drawing 3 is another sketch, this time of Saturn (or another ringed planet) with an old man poking his head out of it through a trap door. Cool, huh?
- Drawing 4 is sketchier, like the first one. It shows a man with a plumed helmet riding a fish.
- Drawing 5 is super detailed and realistic looking and shows a foreign man (in fancy dress) facing off with a dragon or monstrous creature in a building with plenty of columns. Another man is on the floor behind him.
- Drawing 6 is a super lush and detailed image of a fairy breaking out of a cocoon and fluttering over an old, turbaned man who plays a flute. Below, you can see a caterpillar. The whole scene is filled with fern-like plants.
- Drawing 6 is a set of stairs… but mostly, it’s the whole page engulfed in flames.
- Papa Georges races forward and grabs the drawings, trying to tear them apart. Isabelle, Hugo, and Mama Jeanne, all horrified, try to stop him. It's his work, Mama Jeanne reminds him.
- Papa Georges replies that he is not an artist, that he is nothing, and starts to cry. Mama Jeanne tries to comfort him and says that she’s sorry.
Part 2, Chapter 3
- Hugo helps Isabelle into the kitchen and they sit there examining their battle wounds—a crushed hand and a hurt foot—until Mama Jeanne comes to the kitchen.
- She says that Papa Georges has a fever and that it’s time for bed. Hugo can sleep on the couch.
- As soon as everyone’s gone to sleep though, sneaky Hugo finds Papa Georges’ ring of keys and walks to the train station.
- At the toy booth, he starts looking for clues, trying to find out Papa Georges’ secret. He only finds one thing, though, wrapped up in the back of a drawer.
- There’s that mechanical toy mouse, and it looks just like the one that Hugo fixed
- Hugo smiles when he looks at the mouse, and thinks about how all the pieces from the old man’s toys fit so well into the automaton.
- Back in the apartment, Hugo pulls out the mechanical man again. He wraps him up again in fabric and lies down, images flashing through his mind.
- The first image is a large hand holding a pocket watch. There seem to be clouds floating in the foreground and parts of clocks floating in the background.
- The second image is Hugo’s dad working. He’s surrounded by floating, broken clocks. There’s also the head of the automaton and a disembodied eye. Yowza.
- In the next image, there’s a large hand dragging a pen across paper. And we see a side of Papa George’s face. There’s also Hugo and what appears to be flames bursting through the image.
- In the next image, we see two large faces—Papa Georges’s and Isabelle’s. Plus there are some more broken (or rather, cracked) clocks and the small shadow of a person running.
- The final image is a large, glowing hand reaching downward.
- The hand is the Station Inspector’s. It turns into claws and grabs Hugo—who wakes up screaming. What a trippy nightmare, huh?
- Hugo goes through his morning rounds with the clock, and then goes to Monsieur Labisse’s shop to ask about books that are about movies.
- Monsieur Labisse doesn’t have any of the books Hugo wants, but he tells them to go to the Film Academy library and gives him directions. So that's something.
Part 2, Chapter 4
The Invention of Dreams
- It's time for a ride on le Metro, Paris's subway.
- Hugo walks down the stairs of a vast station, looking over his shoulder.
- There he stands, alone on one side of the subway platform, looking into the distance and down the tracks.
- He boards the subway car. It’s very clean and has fancy doors. Hmm. Maybe that's a French thing.
- Hugo takes a seat by the window and holds his injured hand as he looks at the blurry landscape whooshing by.
- We then see Hugo getting off the subway train, looking determined.
- He walks up the stairs and onto the street, which is lined with tall buildings. The street is cobbled and there a ton of people milling about.
- We see Hugo walking down a clean, neat street lined with naked trees. Old timey cars are driving past.
- He arrives in front of a big, elegant building with sculptures on the front. It says, “Academie Du Cinema Francais."
- In the lobby, Hugo asks a woman to use the library, but she's all, you're small and dirty and need adult supervision. Ugh.
- Then he hears his name being called. Who could it be?
- We see the face of a young man with neatly parted hair and an eye patch. Hey…
- … it's Etienne!
- Dude's got connections. He tells Hugo that he'll take him up to the library.
- On their way upstairs, a large painting catches Hugo's eye.
- The painting is of a man suspended in the night sky, about to throw a fireball and extending a hand that emanates light.
- Etienne helps Hugo figure out the card catalog system (the way that folks sorted library books before computers), and Hugo opens a book called The Invention of Dreams: The Story of the First Movies Ever Made.
- The book talks about a movie called A Train Arrives in the Station that scared people because they actually thought a train was going to run them over when they saw on the screen.
- This one's a blurry black and white photo of a train rolling into the station. It doesn’t look that scary to us.
- Hugo goes through the book, flipping through the pages until he finds what he was looking for.
- It’s the image of the man on the moon! It looks exactly like the sketch that the automaton drew, except it’s not a sketch—it’s a real photograph. Or rather it's a still image from a movie.
- The movie that the picture is from is called A Trip to the Moon and was made by a filmmaker named Georges Méliès, who used to be a magician… hmm, that sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
- We see a black and white picture of a woman sitting in the middle of a stage, and a man with a trim beard in a suit waving from off to the side.
- In the next image, the woman is gone but the man in the suit is still standing there, his hand up as though he’s just waved, voila!
- The book talks about how Georges Méliès was a great filmmaker, and how he died sometime after the Great War.
- Say what? Hugo knows that Georges Méliès is still very much alive.
- When he tells Etienne, Etienne just laughs. But Hugo swears—Georges Méliès is Isabelle's godfather.
Part 2, Chapter 5
Papa Georges Made Movies
- Hugo goes back to his room having borrowed the book from the library. For a kid who doesn’t go to school, he sure reads a lot!
- There’s a knock on the door—it’s Isabelle. She sits down and starts to cry, saying that she’s sorry about Hugo’s fingers and about not telling her godparents that she stole the notebook. She’s also awfully worried about Papa Georges, who has a high fever.
- With the toy booth closed, they don’t have the money to get him medicine. Hugo says that things are going to be okay, and shows her the book.
- Pauvre Isabelle. She's confused—she doesn’t know why no one ever told her about Papa Georges’ past as a filmmaker.
- But Hugo has another revelation. Or maybe more of a confession. He tells her that Etienne knows the truth, too.
- And Etienne brought Hugo to meet his teacher, who refused to believe that Georges Méliès could possibly be alive. So…
- Hugo invited Etienne and Monsieur Tabard (the teacher) over to Isabelle’s apartment.
- It’s the only way they will figure out the history behind it all! Then Isabelle asks Hugo how he got the mechanical man and he tells her the whole, sorry story about his father and the automaton.
- When he finishes his story, Isabelle thanks him for telling her.
- We see a close-up of Hugo and Isabelle’s faces as they look at each other.
- Hugo tells her to come to the booth after school the next day because he has a grand idea.
Part 2, Chapter 6
- Hugo opens up the toy booth as though he owns it, and when Isabelle stops by, she helps him, too.
- When there are no customers, Isabelle reads aloud from the book of Greek myths and Hugo remembers Prometheus, who stole fire.
- Hugo listens and looks at the clocks, wondering when they’ll stop running now that he’s busy with his new job as toy booth attendant.
- We see Hugo and Isabelle from behind as they sit at the toy booth. There don’t seem to be any customers.
- Hugo pulls out the mechanical mouse and the two of them chat about how machines are made for a purpose, and that maybe people are like that, too. And if you lose your purpose, you’re broken.
- Deep thoughts, children. Deep thoughts.
- They say that maybe they can fix Papa Georges, you know, give him back his purpose?
- Then, Hugo takes Isabelle up to the glass clocks.
- Hugo and Isabelle peer out through the clock at the city, which is lit up against the night. From way up high, the buildings look tiny.
- Hugo says the entire world is a big machine, and that they’re all there for a reason.
- These kids are getting pretty philosophical, if you ask us.
Part 2, Chapter 7
- Running the toy booth, Hugo and Isabelle manage to raise money for Papa Georges’ medicine.
- But the clocks are starting to break down and the Station Inspector leaves a note for Hugo’s uncle asking for a face-to-face meeting.
- Uh-oh. Sounds like someone’s in trouble.
- The night before Etienne and Rene Tabard are supposed to visit Papa Georges, Hugo has a terrible nightmare about a train accident that happened in the station 36 years back.
- We see a photo of a train that has crashed through the second story of the station and has fallen out into the street.
- Hugo dreams that he’s walking outside when a train suddenly falls from the sky.
- When he wakes up, he gets dressed and eats, then goes to Isabelle’s apartment to meet with Monsieur Tabard and Etienne.
- Isabelle leads them inside, even though Mama Jeanne and Papa Georges don’t know anything about the visit. When Mama Jeanne sees them, she asks who they are.
- Horrified at the intrusion, Mama Jeanne insists that they leave, but Monsieur Tabard tells a sentimental story about how he met Papa Georges when he was a little boy, and how Papa Georges told him that the movie set was where dreams were made.
- Is Papa Georges secretly Walt Disney or what?
- A younger Papa Georges kneels in front of a tiny little Monsieur Tabard. Behind them is a magical set with castles, giant smiling moons, and a big monster with a gaping mouth. Talk about dreams!
- Monsieur Tabard says that he was totally inspired by his meeting with Papa Georges. Then he says that he’s brought one of Papa Georges’ movies and a projector.
- Movie time! Hugo and Isabelle want to watch right away, of course, but Mama Jeanne's not so sure. Eventually she relents.
- After they watch the movie, they turn around and see Papa Georges standing there crying. Mama Jeanne starts to cry, too.
- Isabelle explains who Monsieur Tabard and Etienne are, and how she and Hugo figured out that Papa Georges is a filmmaker.
- Then he asks for the projector and goes to his room, locking the door behind him. Um, that was awkward.
Part 2, Chapter 8
Opening the Door
- Everyone gathers around the bedroom door expectantly, wondering what exactly Papa Georges is up to in there.
- There's a loud crash, so they all freak out and try to bust in the room.
- It's a good thing Isabelle has those lock-picking skills, and a bobby pin handy, too.
- Isabelle’s hand holds a bobby pin up to the keyhole. Let’s see if she’s able to work her magic.
- In the next picture, she has inserted the bobby pin in the keyhole.
- Hugo and Isabelle look at each other expectantly as she turns the doorknob. They look scared.
- Papa Georges hasn’t destroyed the room in a rage after all. Instead, he’s moved the furniture out of the way and he’s sitting at a desk with a pen like the automaton.
- The projector is on and there are images of the film flickering across the entire wall.
- Papa Georges tells them his story. His parents were shoemakers but he wanted to be a magician—so he did that, with his wife as his lovely assistant. He also built the automaton.
- Then he heard about the movies and knew that he wanted in on that kind of magic. But then the war came and he lost his whole company. And then a great tragedy happened—two of his best friends, a cameraman and his wife, died in a car accident. Their baby daughter, Isabelle, survived.
- Papa Georges had to sell all his movies and then he bought the toy booth. He gave the automaton to the museum, but they never put it on display. He asks Hugo to bring back the automaton to him and Hugo agrees.
Part 2, Chapter 9
The Ghost in the Station
- Hugo rushes back to the train station, excited to grab the automaton and get back to Papa Georges. As he passes the café, he grabs a bottle of milk, listening as the newspaper vendor gossips with the café owner.
- They talk about how they heard that the police fond a body of a man who drowned in the river a long time ago—and that the man was the old timekeeper, Hugo’s uncle. They decide that the station must be haunted, since the clocks just kept running (when really it was Hugo this whole time).
- When he hears that, Hugo accidentally drops the bottle of milk. Boom. He’s caught red handed.
- He runs through the crowds and makes his way to his apartment, but someone bursts through the door.
- It’s the Station Inspector, along with the café owner and the newspaper vendor. Basically Hugo's worst nightmare.
- The Station Inspector grabs Hugo and demands to know what is going on, but Hugo manages to wriggle free.
- Hugo disappears down a tunnel, followed by a very angry Station Inspector.
- Hugo’s feet are running as fast as they can, but the Station Inspector's feet are close behind.
- Hugo looks over his shoulder as he runs. Everything around him is a blur.
- In the next image, Hugo looks like he’s flying up a flight of stairs, his mouth open.
- The Station Inspector goes up the stairs, too, pointing his finger and looking angry.
- Looking exhausted, Hugo leans against the wall. But he'd better not pause for too long because there's a shadowy figure coming around the corner.
- The Station Inspector's hand rests on the edge of the wall.
- Again the chase is on! Hugo runs as the Station Inspector follows close behind.
- A foot disappears up a metal ladder.
- Hugo crouches by the big glass clock. We can see the lit-up city outside.
- Then, the tall shadow of the Station Inspector stands in front of the clock.
- Not so fast. Hugo runs for his life, and the Station Inspector emerges from the ladder behind him.
- Hugo’s foot disappears through one of those fancy train station grates.
- Trying to blend in, Hugo dives into the crowd.
- The Station Inspector emerges from the same grate. He has a very official looking belt buckle.
- His pale, bony hand reaches through the crowd for Hugo’s foot. He sure does have a creepy-looking hand. No wonder Hugo has nightmares about it.
- And finally, we get a close-up of Hugo’s eye, which happens to be very wide and scared.
- Hugo crashes into someone, which gives the Station Inspector just the opportunity he's been looking for. He nabs the boy, and when Hugo tries to get away, the Inspector tells him he's going to throw him in jail.
Part 2, Chapter 10
A Train Arrives in the Station
- The Station Inspector leads him back to his office, where he opens a cage and throws Hugo inside. Uh… really? This guy has a cage in his office? Sketchy much?
- Hugo sits there, wishing that Isabelle would arrive, bobby pin in hand.
- Poor Hugo sits in a corner of the cage, looking scared and cold.
- After a while, the Station Inspector returns with a couple of policeman who are ready to take Hugo back to the police station for questioning.
- As the Station Inspector opens the door to the cage, Hugo spots his opportunity and makes a dash for it.
- He makes his way through the crowd but trips, and—uh oh—he falls right onto the train tracks as a train is coming into the station.
- The train's coming in—fast.
- The front of the train has smoke billowing around it. It's coming closer and closer.
- And it’s even closer now. We can almost see the wheels.
- And it’s even closer now, so that all we can see is the very bottom of the train. This is going to get ugly. When did this turn into a horror novel?
- Suddenly, a hand yanks Hugo off of the train tracks by the collar of his jacket just as the train is about to hit him.
- The station Inspector is holding him again, and the policemen take out their handcuffs.
- Hugo is terrified and in pain—after all his hand is still all bandaged up and injured—and he can’t take it anymore.
- Blackness. Just blackness.
- Then, through the blackness, we see some faint stars and moons.
- The stars and moons glow brighter against the dark background.
- When Hugo comes to he sees a bunch of stars and moons, which are on the cape that Georges Méliès is wearing.
- Isabelle gives Hugo a cup of water and together, she and the old man stop the Station Inspector from arresting Hugo.
- Hugo tells the Station Inspector that his uncle is dead, and that he’s been taking care of the clocks ever since. Then he tells Papa Georges that he dropped the automaton and that it’s broken again.
- But Papa Georges assures him that they’ll fix it, and they walk home together.
- Sporting his awesome, glowing magician's coat, Papa Georges leads Isabelle and Hugo towards home.
- Hugo smiles. Home sounds nice.
- On the next page, we see the large bold words: “SIX MONTHS LATER.”
- Then we see Hugo again, except this time he has a nice haircut and neater clothes. Looks like someone’s grown up a little.
Part 2, Chapter 11
- Hugo puts on his tuxedo. Someone’s moved up in life, huh?
- He has his own room in the Mélièses’ apartment, with furniture donated from The French Film Academy. It’s all decked out with a small workbench, and he also has a desk for homework, now that he’s back in school.
- Plus, he's got the automaton.
- Hugo goes into the living room and sees Papa Georges in a tuxedo, too. They’re all going to an event put on by The French Film Academy to honor Georges Méliès and his work.
- Isabelle brings her camera and they all head out.
- When they reach the academy, Papa Georges said that he painted the picture of Prometheus—you know, that one Hugo saw on his first visit here?
- Inside the theater, Monsieur Tabard gives a nice speech about how they discovered that Georges Méliès was still alive, and how much he has contributed to the film industry.
- Everyone cheers and the orchestra starts playing—and then they see the magic that Papa Georges has created.
- We see a photograph of a fantastical scene—mermaids, a man in what looks like a giant shell, and all sorts of detailed and giant sea creatures.
- In the next photo, we see angels standing above the snow-covered roofs of a town.
- In the next image, we see a woman dressed as a shooting star, moving across the black background with a streak of light behind her.
- And finally, the last photo shows an elaborate carriage that is drawn by a rearing horse with armor and strange contraptions on. A frightened man looks out to see what’s going on.
- Finally, they see A Trip to the Moon. Hugo looks at Isabelle and sees that she’s crying.
- Papa Georges takes the stage and addresses the audience. Then they all go to a small party at a nearby restaurant.
- At the party, Hugo does magic tricks and Georges Méliès says that it’s Professor Alcofrisbas’ first public performance. When Hugo asks him who that is, he says that it’s Hugo of course! Looks like Hugo has a new, magical alter ego, and a stage name to boot.
Part 2, Chapter 12
Winding It Up
- The narrator says that he is Professor Alcofrisbas—so it must have been Hugo telling us the story this whole time.
- He says that the automaton his father discovered did save him, but now he has built a new one—and it's one that can tell his story.
- The automaton wrote this book and produced 158 pictures, and wrote letter-by-letter 26,159 words. Wow! That’s quite the machine.
- A large, glowing full moon.
- The black border gets thicker and the moon appears smaller.
- And smaller…
- And smaller yet…
- Until it’s just a small square image of a sliver of moon in the middle of a black page.
- And on the next page are the words “THE END.”
- That about says it all, don't you think?