Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio (2022)
In 2022, renowned director Guillermo del Toro brought his unique interpretation of the famous Pinocchio character to the big screen. “Pinocchio,” directed by del Toro and Mark Gustafson, is a stop motion animated musical dark fantasy comedy-drama that has captivated audiences around the world. With a screenplay written by del Toro himself together with Patrick McHale, the film represents a new interpretation of the story of Pinocchio, based on the 1883 Italian novel "The Adventures of Pinocchio" by Carlo Collodi.
Del Toro's version of Pinocchio was heavily influenced by Gris Grimly's charming illustrations featured in a 2002 edition of the book. The film presents us with the adventures of Pinocchio, a wooden puppet who comes to life as the son of his carver Geppetto. It is a story of love and disobedience, as Pinocchio tries to fulfill his father's expectations and learn the true meaning of his life. All this takes place in a particular historical context, Fascist Italy between the two wars and the Second World War.
The film's original voice cast is a true show of talent, with Gregory Mann voicing Pinocchio and David Bradley as Geppetto. Alongside them, we also find Ewan McGregor, Burn Gorman, Ron Perlman, John Turturro, Finn Wolfhard, Cate Blanchett, Tim Blake Nelson, Christoph Waltz and Tilda Swinton, who give the film a wealth of unforgettable vocal performances.
“Pinocchio” is a longtime passion project for Guillermo del Toro, who claims that no other character has ever had as deep a personal connection to him as Pinocchio. The film is dedicated to the memories of his parents, and although it was first announced in 2008 with an expected release in 2013 or 2014, it was involved in a long and tormented development process. However, thanks to the acquisition by Netflix, the film has finally returned to production after a suspension in 2017 due to lack of financing.
“Pinocchio” made its debut at the BFI London Film Festival on 15 October 2022, arousing great interest and curiosity among audiences and critics. The film was then released in select theaters on November 9 of that year and began streaming on Netflix on December 9. Since then, “Pinocchio” has received unanimous acclaim from critics, who praised the animation, visuals, music, story, emotional intensity and extraordinary vocal performances.
The film received numerous awards, but the pinnacle of success was reached at the Oscars, where "Pinocchio" won the prize for best animated film. This win marked a historic moment, as Guillermo del Toro became the first Latino to win in the Golden Globe category for Best Animated Feature. Additionally, “Pinocchio” is the first film for a streaming service to achieve this prestigious win at both the Golden Globes and Academy Awards, demonstrating the innovation and impact of digital cinema.
It's not the first time that a stop motion animated film has made its way among Oscar winners, but 'Pinocchio' follows in the successful footsteps of 'Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit' and becomes the second stop motion film to win the prestigious award. This win demonstrates the continued evolution and appreciation for the stop motion technique in the film industry.
“Pinocchio” transported the audience to a magical and captivating world, thanks to the mastery of Guillermo del Toro and his creative team. The stop motion animation made it possible to create a unique aesthetic, full of details and dark atmospheres that blend perfectly with the plot of the film. The images were praised for their beauty and originality, transporting viewers into an extraordinary viewing experience.
In addition to the visual aspect, the soundtrack of "Pinocchio" has helped to create an engaging and suggestive atmosphere. The music accompanied the characters' emotions and amplified the dramatic effect of the situations. The combination of images and music made the film a complete and exciting cinematic experience.
The story of “Pinocchio” has been reinterpreted in an original way and has fascinated audiences of all ages. The film was able to capture the essence of the character and convey a universal message about the search for identity, love and personal growth. The performance of the voices of the protagonists brought the characters to life, creating emotional bonds with the audience and giving the film extraordinary emotional depth.
In an atmosphere of profound sadness, in Italy during the Great War, Geppetto, a widowed carpenter, faces the painful loss of his beloved son Carlo, due to an Austro-Hungarian air raid. Geppetto decides to bury a pine cone that Carlo had found near his grave, and spends the next twenty years grieving for his absence. Meanwhile, Sebastian the Cricket takes up residence in a majestic pine tree that grows from Carlo's pine cone. However, Geppetto, in the grip of drunkenness and rage, cuts down the tree and chops it up to build himself a wooden puppet, which he considers like a new son. But he, overcome with intoxication, falls asleep before completing the puppet, leaving it rough and incomplete.
At that moment, the Spirit of the Wood appears, a mysterious figure wrapped in eyes and similar to a biblical angel, who gives life to the puppet, calling him "Pinocchio". The Spirit asks Sebastian to be Pinocchio's guide, offering him one wish in return. Sebastian, hoping to gain fame through the publication of his autobiography, gladly accepts.
When Geppetto awakens sober, he is horrified to discover that Pinocchio is alive and, frightened, locks him in a closet. However, the puppet breaks free and follows Geppetto to the church, causing havoc and alarming the community. At the suggestion of the local Podestà, Geppetto decides to send Pinocchio to school, but the puppet is intercepted by the petty Count Volpe and his monkey Trash. By deception, they convince Pinocchio to sign a contract to become the main attraction of their circus. That same evening, Geppetto reaches the circus and interrupts the show to take Pinocchio back. However, amidst the confusion and quarrel between Geppetto and Volpe, the puppet falls into the street and is tragically run over by the Podestà's van.
Thus, Pinocchio awakens in the underworld, where he meets Death, who reveals that she is the sister of the Spirit of the wood. Death explains to Pinocchio that, being immortal as a non-human, he is destined to return to the world of the living every time he dies, at increasingly long intervals of time, measured by an hourglass which lengthens progressively with each awakening in the beyond. Back to life, Pinocchio finds himself at the center of a dispute: the Podestà wants to enlist him in the army, seeing in him the potential of an immortal super soldier to serve fascist Italy in the new war, while Volpe demands a huge monetary reward to cancel the contract he had with Geppetto.
Whipped with frustration, Geppetto pours his delusions on Pinocchio, chiding him for not being like Carlo and calling him a burden. Pinocchio, repentant for having disappointed his father, decides to run away from home to work in Volpe's circus, both to avoid enlistment and to support Geppetto financially, by sending him part of his salary. However, Volpe secretly keeps all the money for himself. Garbage discovers the deception and, using his puppets to communicate with Pinocchio, tries to make him escape, being jealous of the attention Volpe pays to the puppet. Volpe discovers the betrayal and beats up Garbage. Pinocchio prepares to defend the monkey and scolds the Count for not sending Geppetto the money, but is threatened.
Meanwhile, Geppetto and Sebastian decide to go to the circus to bring Pinocchio home, but as they cross the Strait of Messina, they are swallowed up by the Terrible Dogfish.
Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio: A charming puppet lovingly built by Geppetto, who acquires a life of his own and undertakes to prove that he is worthy of his creator's affection. His voice is interpreted by Gregory Mann in English and by Ciro Clarizio in Italian.
Sebastian the Cricket - Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio: A cricket adventurer and writer, whose home was a log from which Pinocchio was created. Ewan McGregor voices Sebastian in English, while Massimiliano Manfredi dubs him in Italian.
Geppetto: A widowed carpenter with a melancholy heart, who lost his beloved son Charles during a bombing raid in the First World War. Still mourning the loss of him, he finds consolation in the arrival of Pinocchio. Geppetto's voice is performed by David Bradley in English and by Bruno Alessandro in Italian.
Carlo: Geppetto's son who sadly passed away during the war. His absence is filled by the arrival of Pinocchio, who brings some light into Geppetto's life. Gregory Mann dubs Carlo in English, while Ciro Clarizio plays him in Italian.
The Spirit of the Wood: A mysterious mystical forest-dwelling creature, resembling a biblical angel with a body covered in eyes. He is the one who gives life to Pinocchio. The voice of this enigmatic figure is given by Tilda Swinton in English and Franca D'Amato in Italian.
The death: The sister of the Wood Spirit and ruler of the underworld, she appears as a ghostly chimera. Tilda Swinton provides the voice in English, while Franca D'Amato lends her voice in Italian.
Count Fox: A fallen and evil nobleman, who now runs a freak circus. He is a character who combines the characteristics of Count Volpe and Mangiafoco. Christoph Waltz provides the voice of Conte Volpe in English, while Stefano Benassi dubs him in Italian.
rubbish: An abused monkey who belongs to Count Volpe, but who finds an unexpected friendship with Pinocchio after the latter defends his right to freedom. He speaks through animal sounds, except when giving voice to the puppets he operates. Cate Blanchett lends the voice in English, while Tiziana Avarista takes care of the dubbing in Italian.
Lucignolo: A boy with whom Pinocchio becomes friends and who, like him, feels obliged to make his father proud. Finn Wolfhard provides the voice of Lucignolo in English, while Giulio Bartolomei interprets him in Italian.
Podesta: Candlewick's father, a fascist officer who wishes to transform his son and Pinocchio into soldiers, similar to the Little Man of Butter who wanted to transform them into donkeys.
Original title Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio
Original language English
Country of Production USA, Mexico
Duration 121 min
Gender animation, fantastic, adventure
Regia Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson
Subject from the novel Carlo Collodi
Film script Guillermo del Toro, Patrick McHale
Producer Guillermo del Toro, Lisa Henson, Alexander Bulkley, Corey Campodonico, Gary Ungar
Production house Netflix Animation, Jim Henson Productions, Pathé, ShadowMachine, Double Dare You Productions, Necropia Entertainment
Distribution in Italian Netflix
Photography Frank Passingham
Editor Ken Schretzmann
Music Alexandre Desplat
Original voice actors
Gregory MannPinocchio, Carlo
Ewan McGregor: Sebastian the Cricket
Ron Perlman: mayor
Tilda Swinton: Spirit of the Wood, Death
Christoph Waltz: Count Volpe
Cate Blanchett: Garbage
Tim Blake Nelson: Black Rabbits
Finn Wolfhard: Candlewick
John Turturro: Doctor
Burn Gorman: Priest
Tom KennyBenito Mussolini
Italian voice actors
Ciro Clarizio: Pinocchio, Carlo
Massimiliano Manfredi as Sebastian the Cricket
Bruno Alessandro: Geppetto
Mario Cordova: mayor
Franca D'Amato: Spirit of the wood, Death
Stefano Benassi: Count Volpe
Tiziana Avarista: Garbage
Giulio Bartolomei: Candlewick
Fabrizio Vidale: priest
Massimiliano Alto: Benito Mussolini
Luigi Ferraro: black rabbits
Pasquale Anselmo: doctor