Study Guide

The Invention of Hugo Cabret Part 2, Chapter 4

By Brian Selznick

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Part 2, Chapter 4

The Invention of Dreams

  • Text
  • It's time for a ride on le Metro, Paris's subway.
  • Illustration
  • 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."
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  • 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?
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  • We see the face of a young man with neatly parted hair and an eye patch. Hey…
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  • … 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.
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  • The painting is of a man suspended in the night sky, about to throw a fireball and extending a hand that emanates light.
  • Texts
  • 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.
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  • This one's a blurry black and white photo of a train rolling into the station. It doesn’t look that scary to us.
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  • Hugo goes through the book, flipping through the pages until he finds what he was looking for.
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  • 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.
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  • 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?
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  • 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!
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  • 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.

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