Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Kingsley, Chloe Moretz Join Martin Scorsese For ‘Hugo Cabret’

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea that filmmaker Martin Scorsese, the man who gave us the likes of “Goodfellas” and “Taxi Driver,” is following up “Shutter Island,” his latest, with something for the whole family. “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” by Brian Selznick, is a 2008 Caldecott Medal winning historical-fiction tale of the titular young boy who lives in a Paris train station. The story is said to be inspired by formative French filmmaker Georges Méliès, a man who developed many of cinema’s earliest special effects and camera tricks, as well as one of the early artists to twist the medium for the purposes of storytelling.

It seems that the production is kicking into high gear, as a number of high-profile players appear to be in the process of signing on to join Scorsese in his latest adventure. Deadline Hollywood reports (unsourced) that a sizable group of players is in the negotiations phase and landing key roles in the director’s next effort.

In two separate reports yesterday it was revealed that Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Chloe Moretz and Asa Butterfield are all in talks. Butterfield, who will next be seen in “Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang,” is up for the title role while Moretz would play the female lead, Isabelle. Cohen is up for the part of the station inspector and Kingsley, for Méliès himself.

It might seem odd for a guy like Scorsese to be moving forward with a kids’ movie, but it begins to make more sense when you think about the story’s inspirations. This is someone who possesses a true appreciation for the art of cinema, and Méliès is one of the medium’s visionaries. I haven’t read “Hugo Cabret,” but I can certainly see how it would appeal to Scorsese. Méliès was creating narrative cinema at a time when people were running from theaters, screaming in fear at the sight of a train pulling into a station. The same year the Lumière brothers were toying with the novelty of filmmaking — “L’arrivée d’un train à La Ciotat” (“Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat”) was 1896 — Méliès was crafting what is credited as the medium’s first horror film: “Le Manoir du diablo” (“The House of the Devil”).