I recently recommended the wonderful Martin Scorcese film Hugo set in Paris in 1931. I loved the story of a remarkable boy and his friendship with Georges Méliès so much that I read both the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret and The Hugo Movie Companion: A Behind the Scenes Look at How a Beloved Book Became a Major Motion Picture. The author of both books, Brian Selznick, is related to David O. Selznick, director of Gone With the Wind, among other blockbusters, and he layered the book with his knowledge of early film history. Scorcese, just as passionate about the early days of film, brought his perfectionist’s eye to bear with wonderful results.
I am now a fountain of useless, yet fascinating, information. For example, while I knew about the Lumière brothers’ role in early movies, I didn’t know anything about Georges Méliès, who made about 500 early films. The face of the automaton that plays an important role in the film was based on Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile. They actually made 15 different automatons, each with a slightly different facial expression so they could show that the automaton was growing happier as it was transformed by Hugo Cabret. The attention to the tiniest detail is so incredible I’m planning to go see the film again soon so I can appreciate all the nuances I missed the first time.
Today’s expression, jamais deux sans trois (sjameh deuh sah twa) means “never two without three.” It’s the equivalent of our expression “good things come in threes.” Maybe I should see Hugo three times, or maybe two will suffice since I plan to see the 3D version this time.