The 2011 movie Hugo was about a boy of the same name who fixes an automaton that was built by George Méliès. Hugo learns that the man was a film maker and eventually inspires him to take pride in his career.

While the question Did Hugo Cabret and other characters really exist? asks about the existence of the characters in the film, I'm wondering if Méliès' portrayal in the film is accurate to what we know about his life. For instance, did his attitude towards filmmaking (including burning the negatives and sets) reflect reality?

1 Answer 1


In general his portrayal is accurate:

The backstory and primary features of Georges Méliès' life as depicted in the film are largely accurate: He became interested in film after seeing a demonstration of the Lumière brothers' camera; he was a magician and toymaker; he experimented with automata; he owned a theatre (Theatre Robert-Houdin); he was forced into bankruptcy; his film stock was reportedly melted down for its celluloid; he became a toy salesman at the Montparnasse station, and he was eventually awarded the Légion d'honneur medal after a period of terrible neglect. Many of the early silent films shown in the movie are Méliès's actual works, such as Le voyage dans la lune (1902).

And yes, he has burned some of his films and sets:

That same year Pathé was finally able to take over Star Films and the Montreuil studio. In a rage, Méliès burned all of the negatives of his films that he had stored at the Montreuil studio, as well as most of the sets and costumes. As a result, many of his films do not exist today.

It seems that the main differences are related to his family life:

(...) the film does not mention Méliès' two children, his brother Gaston (who worked with Méliès during his film-making career), or his first wife Eugénie, who was married to Méliès during the time he made films (and who died in 1913). The film shows Méliès married to Jeanne d'Alcy during their filmmaking period, when in reality they did not marry until 1925.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .