The first thing you need to know about this movie is that this is not your classic Pinocchio. This is Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, a dark fairy tale delving deep into the themes featured in the popular novel. We will be exploring the rise of fascism in Italy between two world wars, family, life, and ultimately death in this emotional masterpiece. The familiar plot is a starting point for all of this and it anchors the story and the characters. And religion, let’s not forget we will be exploring religion as well.
Now, this is not the first time del Toro explores these themes. First came The Devil’s Backbone and then Pan’s Labyrinth, taking place during and after the Spanish Civil War. This year, we also got the opportunity to see George Miller’s Three Thousand Years of Longing, another cautionary fairy tale for adults. A definition of the old saying be careful what you wish for. Moving on, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio adds new life to an old story, first published back in 1883. The quality of the animation is simply stunning and it sets new standards when it comes to claymation. After all, this is currently the longest stop-motion movie.
And it’s a PG movie, something that I found utterly baffling. Sure, there won’t be any blood or beheadings here but the themes are just so fucking adult. And I fucking loved them. They’re realistic and believable contrasting the surreal story of a wooden boy who comes to life. And the same goes for the characters. This is not the same Geppetto you grew up with and I think that after this movie, you won’t be able to look at him the same way. Pinocchio, on the other hand, feels more aloof and dare I say empty, but for a good reason…
Geppetto loves his son Carlo more than anything in his life. He’s a carpenter, currently working on a giant wooden statue of Christ for the local church. However, a terrible tragedy will befall Geppetto and he will lose himself in a drunken stupor. And in this state, he will decide to make a wooden doll. A doll he will call Pinocchio.
Oddly enough, just three months before the release of this movie, Disney released their version of Pinocchio. That’s more of a classic telling of the familiar story that ain’t got shit on Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio. His version feels like a cross between Frankenstein and Pinocchio. Although I think that Tim Burton and Pixar are also appropriate in that comparison. This is, of course, not the first reimagining of this story. I vaguely recall watching a Russian version of the Pinocchio, which I later found out was called The Adventures of Buratino . It’s creepy as fuck.
One of the themes that hit a little too close to comfort was the relationship between a parent and a child and how parents have this “vision” of how their kids should turn out. Voice acting was top-notch, something that was expected from a cast this strong. I’ll just say that Cate Blanchett plays Spazzatura, an evil monkey without a single line of text. Available on Netflix, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is a must-watch so don’t waste any time and check it out as soon as possible.
Directors: Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson
Writers: Guillermo del Toro, Patrick McHale, Carlo Collodi
Cast: Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, Gregory Mann, Burn Gorman, Ron Perlman, Finn Wolfhard
Fun Facts: The rabbits that appear in afterlife while original in appearance are a nod to rabbits in Watership Down.