In Martin Scorsese‘s critically acclaimed new film “Hugo,” Sir Ben Kinsgley plays Georges Méliès, one of the founding fathers of cinema and an innovator in using special effects. Chatting with Gold Derby, the Oscar champ was quick to draw parallels between the pioneer filmmaker and a modern master of the cinema.
“My research started with Georges Méliès but ended with Marty, because they sort of seamlessly join together in terms of cinema tradition: Georges, creating with the cutting edge of his technology in the early twentieth century, and Marty, of course, in the twenty-first century creating with cutting edge technology.” Kingsley, who first worked with Scorsese on “Shutter Island,” says he is, “deeply grateful for sharing two films” with Scorsese. “He’s a collaborator, he’s a sharer; he’s not a dictator.”
“Hugo” is receiving the kind of rave reviews rarely seen for family films. Ty Burr (Boston Globe) calls it, “an exhilarating tale of magic, machines, memories, and dreams” and says it, “is a family film and, yes, your children and your inner child stand to be enraptured, but the family Scorsese really made this for is the 100-year-old tribe of watchers in the dark.” Todd McCarthy (Hollywood Reporter) describes it as a, “fabulous and passionate love letter to the cinema.”
The use of 3D storytelling in particular is drawing high praise. At a recent Q&A, James Cameron proclamined this, “absolutely the best 3D photography that I’ve seen.” And Kingsley wholeheartedly agrees that “Hugo” is brought to vivid life by the 3D technology developed and utilised by Scorsese, turning 1930s Paris into something “very tangible, glistening, glittering [and] brand new.”
Also praising the work of production designer Dante Ferretti and costume designer Sandy Powell, Kingsley notes, “everything had that newness; and that newness encouraged me, and I think invites the audience to see life through the eyes of a child, to see life for the first time, and this is a miracle embodied in the film” which he believes is brought to such vivid life by the 3D technology utilised by his director. “3D also helps the acting because it forces you to be sincere,” admits Kingsley. “You cannot be insincere in front of a 3D camera; it will spot it immediately.”
Kingsley also hilariously recounts the night he won the Best Actor Oscar for his role in Richard Attenborough‘s “Gandhi.” “I went into shock, and everything went into slow motion, and I think I looked slightly demented. I had an orange face, pencil moustache, odd haircut, white jacket, far too tight and bought in a sale, and this Academy Award, and I looked like a loony wine waiter saying ‘who ordered the Chardonnay?'”
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