#TrendingNews Blog Business Entertainment Environment Health Lifestyle News Analysis Opinion Science Sports Technology World News
Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio: 2022 Has Been A Fruitful Year For The Famous Puppet

This year we have welcomed not one but two new adaptations of the story of the tale of Pinocchio. Originally a novel by Carlo Collodi, it was adapted by Walt Disney in 1940. Various adaptations of the story followed, some more successful than others, but let us have a look at the latest of this list: Disney’s Pinocchio and Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio.

Disney’s Pinocchio (2022), directed by Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump), belongs to the highly discussed live-action adaptation project partaken by the studios, some other instances include The Beauty and The Beast (2017), Aladdin, Dumbo, and the Lion King (2019), and Mulan (2020). Among the famous actors cast in the film, there is Tom Hanks, playing the role of Geppetto, Luke Evans as The Coachman, and Joseph Gordo-Levitt as Jiminy Cricket. Although technically impressive, not many of these adaptations succeed in leaving a mark on the viewers, and Pinocchio’s new adaption, released in September exclusively on Disney+, is no exception.

Moreover, the film’s rating of 1.5/4 on Rotten Tomatoes does not leave much doubt regarding its reception. Following Pinocchio’s story for the major part canonically, not distancing much from the 40s film. In The Guardian newspaper, Adrian Horton reports that the remake ‘never quite justifies its existence’ and that compared to the original, it seems to ‘lack a beating heart’. This is probably caused by the interaction between live-action and CGI in the film, which can be at times visually awkward, or, as, Horton defines it, ‘never not weird.’

On the other hand, Del Toro’s adaptation, rating 4.5/5 on Rotten Tomatoes, seems to provide a solution to this and other problems. After the recent success of Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, the director returned last Friday with another interesting collaboration with Netflix, which was announced in 2018: Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio.

The film’s cast is just as impressive as Zemeckis’s, featuring stars like Ewan McGregor in the role of Cricket, David Bradley as Geppetto, as well as Tilda Swinton, Christoph Waltz, Cate Blanchett, John Turturro, and Stranger Things star, Finn Wolfhard. The director explained the perhaps unexpected choice to adapt the famous tale of Pinocchio, stating: ‘No art form has influenced my life and my work more than animation and no single character in history has had as deep of a personal connection to me as Pinocchio’. Del Toro’s dedication at the end of the film to his parents highlights the connection between the tale and the director’s personal life.

Being released less than 3 months after Disney’s remake, the comparison between the two adaptations of Collodi’s novel is natural, and Disney might be the loser this time around.

Additionally, Del Toro chose for his adaptation the technique of stop-motion. This choice is curious and perhaps more appropriate than Disney’s. Not only because it resolves any awkwardness provoked by the coexistence of CGI and live action, but also on a symbolic level, it seems only right and evocative that the story of the most famous puppet should be retold using actual puppets.

The beginning of the film and mainly the presence of songs might elude the viewer to thinking that Del Toro’s version might be closer to Disney’s than expected. However, as the plot unravels, it becomes clear that Del Toro’s adaptation targets a different and older audience than Disney’s remake. As stated by Del Toro: ‘Children can watch [“Pinocchio”] if their parents talk to them. If they’re willing to have a conversation about ideas versus ideologies, or a conversation about life and death.’

In fact, part of what makes the film darker and more profound in meaning is the introduction and exploration of big themes like grief, death, power, and war. Even though Disney’s remake similarly starts off with a nostalgic and grieving note by revealing Geppetto’s son’s tragic death, the film turns quickly away from this theme. Instead, in Del Toro’s Pinocchio Geppetto’s despair at the death of his son Carlo plays a big role in the plot and is the starting point of the development of his relationship with Pinocchio, who is pressured to ‘be like Carlo’. Pinocchio is here faced with his own mortality and with the burden of being a replacement, and Geppetto must learn to move forward and accept Pinocchio for who he really is.

Besides, mystical creatures and fantastical settings following the style of Pan's Labyrinth, could not be absent, visually giving the film a dark style. For example, Pinocchio’s appearance is bare and not at all colorful and cheerful like its Disney counterpart, Jimmy Cricket is much more realistic, and the blue fairy is replaced by a sphinxlike creature.

The socio-political setting of the latest adaptation is however the most distinctive and interesting aspect of the film, which redefines the meaning of the whole story. In fact, Del Toro’s Pinocchio is set in Fascist Italy just before World War II, and the implications of this choice are key to the development of the plot. The setting completely transforms, or better, brings under a different light what it means to become a ‘real boy’ in comparison with the context of fascist youth in 30s Italy.

In Disney’s adaptations of the tale, the blue fairy tells Pinocchio that to become a real boy, he must prove to be brave, truthful, and unselfish. This definition is completely redefined in Del Toro’s film by the character of Podesta, who tells Pinocchio that to become ‘a real Italian boy’, by training to be a perfect soldier, obedient, loyal to his country, and not afraid of war or to die following the rules of the party. It is in this setting that Pinocchio must learn to discern right and wrong, celebrating disobedience as opposed to the blind obedience expected by fascist youth.

Finally, these and other important differences make Del Toro’s Pinocchio stand out in comparison with Zemeckis’s remake. Just like Cricket told us in the trailer released in January by Netflix, ‘this is a story you may think you know, but you don’t. Not really.’

After this non-spoiler analysis, there is not much left now than go and have a look at the film, streaming on Netflix from December 9.

Share This Post On


Leave a comment

You need to login to leave a comment. Log-in