Del Toro's Pinocchio
Have you read Carlo Collodi’s 1883 novel The Adventures of Pinocchio, the basis for Disney’s animated film? It’s an incredibly disturbing book. Many of the basics we see in the movie are there—Pinocchio is carved from wood by an old man who wishes for a son, he comes to life, he runs away at the behest of a scheming fox and cat, he ends up in a puppet show, he goes to a place where boys enjoy themselves until they turn into donkeys, he rescues his creator from the belly of a giant fish, and he becomes a real boy. But Collodi’s version is so much darker and more disturbing. It originated as a newspaper serial, so it’s made up of short episodes, almost all of which involve death, mutilation, or some grotesque betrayal. Pinocchio is a selfish little beast, aggressive and violent, and constantly defying authority. He deliberately betrays his father and the good fairy over and over, including at one point when he’s behaved himself for a year and is literally one day away from becoming a real boy.
And now it's in Del Toro's hands!
Guillermo del Toro very well knows how to tell a fantastical story. The beloved director brought magical realism to life in films like Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak, and The Shape of Water, the latter of which earned him Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director. It seems his mind is geared towards dark fairy tales, which makes him the perfect man to tackle Pinocchio.
Director Guillermo del Toro is perhaps most well-known for exploring topics rife with gothic romance, frightening monsters, and occasionally a fish-dude who wins the affections of a human woman — "The Shape of Water," of course, went on to win Best Picture against all odds and further bring del Toro's unique sensibilities into the mainstream.
“I’ve always been very intrigued by the links between Pinocchio and Frankenstein,” del Toro told Vanity Fair. “They are both about a child that is thrown into the world. They are both created by a father who then expects them to figure out what’s good, what’s bad, the ethics, the morals, love, life, and essentials, on their own. I think that was, for me, childhood. You had to figure it out with your very limited experience.” Guillermo Del Toro
Guillermo del Toro makes it clear he is taking a big shift from the traditional Italian classic and also the 1940 Disney adaptation. He elaborates, “It’s counter to the book because the book is seeking the domestication of the child’s spirit in a strange way,” the director says. “It’s a book full of great invention, but it’s also in favor of obeying your parents and being ‘a good boy’ and all that. This movie is about finding yourself and finding your way in the world-not just obeying the commandments that are given to you but figuring out when they are okay or not.”
To underline his themes in this adaptation he has changed the world the story will be set in, “an environment in which citizens behave with obedient, almost puppet-like faithfulness” he explains. He has set the story in WWII Italy. del Toro concludes with, “Blind obedience is not a virtue. The virtue Pinocchio has is to disobey. At a time when everybody else behaves as a puppet-he doesn’t. Those are the interesting things, for me. I don’t want to retell the same story. I want to tell it my way and, in the way, I understand the world.”
Del Toro's statement got me pretty excited. I cannot wait to see the version that comes out of this amazing director's mind as soon as possible. We all will hold our breath on Netflix in December.
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