My first read for Paris in July (I know, it's been a slow start!) was The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Set in Paris in 1931, this book was the first graphic novel to win the Caldecott medal, awarded each year for the best example of illustration in a children's book. I have read perhaps 3 graphic novels in my life, so it should be obvious that this is a genre I do not gravitate toward. And perhaps it should not be a surprise that I found myself kind of skimming over the pictures to get to the text. The story was a pretty good one, and the art was (at times) well-executed, interesting, and strong. That said, it was also dark (the artist uses a lot of pencil strokes for each drawing) and somehow slow-moving. It wanted me to ponder the art more, and I just wanted to find out what happened. As a unique form, though, the book more than deserves the accolades it has earned. In the book, Selznick combines the novel, the picture book, and film in exciting ways. He blurs the line between a page turn and a scene cut, and he incorporates stills from old movies and sketches from the filmmaker Georges Melies throughout. It is an interesting juxtaposition, and it is this which I feel was the most substantial takeaway for me.
Though I didn't feel particularly changed by the book itself, it did lead me to this 1902 film by Melies.
Considered the first science fiction film ever, it is remarkable for its innovation and hilarious for its misinterpretation of what space travel might "one day" look like. It was an excellent addition to my knowledge and a fun start to Paris in July for me, especially in light of Friday's final shuttle launch:
For your final piece of video today, I offer this from Selznick himself. I was particularly interested in his explanation of how he puts it all together and impressed with the fact that the original art is much smaller and finer and tighter than how it was published. Interesting stuff.