It’s a story we all have heard at one time or another. With lessons about lying, doing your best, and loss, it may seem a simple plot at first glance, but “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” takes a look at the classic tale from a different angle.
The film’s setting is in Italy during the 1930’s. It’s a striking difference from the other versions of Pinnochio, as it takes a dive into World War 1, touching on what the Fascist government was like for Italian citizens.
Similar to the Nazi’s leadership, people living in Italy during this time were under strict direction. It was a far-right government, centered around citizens sacrificing themselves and their values for the sake of their country. This is seen during multiple scenes during the movie, as leaders want Pinnochio to be a soldier. Pinnochio’s want for normal boy adventures and an innocent youth was ignored, and he forcefully was taken away to be a part of the war.
Some of the scenes centered around the war are hard to watch, but it portrays the pain and suffering that was simply a reality for many. Gepetto has a traumatic war experience in the beginning, and later on we get a glimpse at Benito Mussolini. Mussolini was the prime minister of Fascist Italy, and he is shown in the film in an encounter with Pinnochio. Pinnochio is performing at a show, and when he doesn’t do well, Mussolini reacts in a disturbing way. His and other war characters’ actions give us a look into the controlling era.
The film also includes religion. Pinnochio enters a church, and is immediately shunned because of his jumpy energy and him interrupting the service. He receives disapproving looks, and everyone questions him, wondering how a wooden puppet could be moving with no strings.
Pinnochio glanced up at the wooden crucifix and said, “He’s made of wood too. Why do they like him and not me?”
It wasn’t the only time Pinnochio felt left out and unloved. Gepetto had a hard time accepting him at first, and he asks him during an angry argument why he can’t be more like Carlos, his first-born son. It is relatable to viewers who have felt the pressure to be something they are not, to constantly fit in with people’s expectations. We see a son just trying to make his father happy, and a father just trying to do the best he can.
In addition to the plot twists from the original, the making of the film and the stop-motion animation used is a wonder. Guillermo del Toro has made dozens of collections of work, and the Pinnochio film is no exception to his previous brilliance. A documentary is available on Netflix, exploring the inner workings behind making the wooden boy truly come to life.
There are moments that deal with more mature topics than some children would understand, and for this reason it seems directed to an older audience. I wouldn’t turn it on while babysitting little kids. However, this is what differs the remake from the countless other versions though, and that is important.
This version of the childhood story Pinnochio offers dark twists, new takeaways, and much to remember. Its creativity is phenomenal, and the vulnerability of the events are relatable to many. There are moments of joy, sadness, redemption, and everything you want when you sit down to watch a good movie.