In 1931 Paris, resourceful orphan Asa Butterfield lives behind the clocks in a train station.

Based on the award-winning novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, director Martin Scorsese’s first ever family-friendly film is both a joyful and enchanting adventure and a loving tribute to the early days of cinema and one of its neglected pioneers.

Since the death of his father (Jude Law), Butterfield’s Hugo has sought solace in completing their cherished project of repairing a broken automaton. His attempts to scavenge the parts he needs, while dodging Sacha Baron Cohen’s zealous station inspector, bring him into contact with a spirited young girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) and her crotchety godfather, Papa Georges (Ben Kingsley), the owner of the station’s toy booth.

After a series of escapades in and around the station, we learn Papa Georges’ full identity and his importance to the history of cinema, a subject dear to Scorsese, who interweaves iconic scenes from early silent movies into the action.

Some of the finer points may be lost on younger children, but there is enough dash and humour to make this a touching and exciting tale of childhood derring-do.