If I had stuffed the ballot box at the Academy Awards, Hugo would have won best picture. It reminded me of all the things that matter: magic, dreams, love, belonging, persistence, hope, purpose, creativity. All in two hours.
I have recently spent a lot of time thinking really hard about complicated stuff. It can be fun. It sometimes makes my brain hurt and hopefully helps someone in some way. But I don’t believe even the clearest thinking will ever cause the type of transformation that happens in Hugo.
A brief synopsis without spoiling the plot: a young boy’s tenacious search for love renews several lives and brings some magic back into the world, the kind of magic that helps us understand why kids need to believe in Santa Claus or convinces us to clap to save Tinkerbell’s life.
It’s difficult to believe in fairies as an adult and even more difficult to admit it. Growing up is a tricky business. Real things like mortgage payments and having enough to eat take a lot of our time and energy. Bigger real things like war and global warming can dwarf stories and imagination, which may then seem so small as to be not real, especially if we rely on logic alone.
The movie works because it takes you out of thinking and into a world where dreams come true if you hold on tightly enough to what is important to you. I think this world is as real as any other, but sometimes it slips our mind because dreams often don’t come true and many people never become what they were meant to be, or at least so it appears.
I forget all the time, like when I arrive at work on Monday morning and realize it is only five weeks until The Visit that follows The Report, or when I have, for the umpteenth time, let taxes, sleep, procrastination impinge on my writing schedule. But our forgetting something doesn’t mean it’s not there.
So go see this movie. Because when you leave the theater or turn off the DVD player, you’ll remember what lifts your heart up, and whatever that is will cause greater change and more joy than all the thinking in the world.