I think it’s safe to say, that we’re all familiar with the classic story of Pinocchio originally written by Carlo Collidi in 1883. There have been many adaptations of the story, each trying to add something new or original to their own interpretation. Some adaptations have fallen flat(especially this year,) while others have done a great job. Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of the famous novel manages to surpass all others by introducing us to new, unexplored themes in a darker, more mature retelling of the story of Pinocchio. This fresh, and wonderful new take packaged in the most gorgeous animation instantly makes this film another one of Guillermo Del Toro’s masterpieces.
This story leans heavily into many mature themes such as loss, war, death, and grieving, and asks us the question, “what makes us human?” I think having the main character a wooden puppet created by a grieving father who made him in a night of pure drunken rage was an interesting way to explain how this creature was “born.” Guillermo del Toro has said that he always viewed the character of Pinocchio and Frankenstein’s monster as one and the same. Two creatures made by an oblivious father, thrown into a world to which they know nothing of. This take gives us such a unique and different look at the character as a starting basis, that from this point on, you know what you’re getting is something unique. That’s not all, my favorite thing about this film is that there is so many more dissections of other mature themes all throughout it’s story. Most notably, death and war. The film is set during 1930s in fascist Italy, and holds no punches showing us the fear of war, and everyone who gets caught up in it, putting to the forefront, the value of life. It’s a very bold choice, and one I feel pays off since it uses the setting as a tool to add background and reasonable set up to tell it’s story.
The stop motion animation for this film is perfect. There is so much attention to detail, and you get some gorgeous shots that add to the storytelling of this specific Pinocchio adaptation. Lighting, color, design, movement everything is so meticulous on every level, you can’t help but sit back and enjoy the artistry on display. What you’re seeing aren’t puppets, but living and breathing moving pieces. The team who worked behind the animation; Moving Picture Company did a beautiful job with their work, and there isn’t enough compliments I can say that will adequately capture just how beautiful the final product turned out. These are masters at the top of their game, creating art, and it’s such an honor to see. From the crude design and imperfections of a wooden puppet, to sunken eyes and stretched faces of wretched characters. All the designs are chosen so precisely and carefully to convey a specific image, it’s easy to get sucked up in this stop motion fairy tale.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is nothing short of a masterpiece and a darker, bold and fresh retelling of a classic story we all know. This film is a great piece and you can feel so much heart poured into every level of it, from the characters, the writing, it’s themes, the animation, story, design, and music. It has an abundance of soul and care, and you can certainly see this film is a passion project through and through. Pinocchio is out now in select theaters and if you have access to watching it on a big screen, I whole heartedly urge you to do so. If not, it will also be streaming on Netflix December 9th. This is not one to miss.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio streams December 9th on Netflix