Criticism of Pinocchio by Guillermo del Toro, without strings attached

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Spoiler-free review of Pinocchio by Guillermo del Toro. Premiere on Netflix on November 25.


When it comes to Pinocchio, there is arguably an excess of movies about the mischievous puppet boy. In fact, since Carlo Collodi’s children’s novel was published as a single book in 1883, The Adventures of Pinocchio has been adapted for the big screen 21 times. Two of them have recently been released in live-action form: Robert Zemeckis’ disappointing remake and Matteo Garrone’s stunning Italian version, which sticks closer to the source material. Now, Guillermo del Toro has made the twenty-second adaptation, his passion project: a stop-motion puppet animated film that uses Collodi’s story as a starting point to weave historical fact with fantastic and sometimes macabre fiction. His arrival soon on Netflix raises the question: do we need another Pinocchio movie? In the case of del Toro’s proposal, the answer is: yes! This movie is a majestic work of art.

Based on Gris Grimly’s design from his 2002 edition of Collodi’s book, Manchester-based animation studio MacKinnon & Saunders, has brought to life magnificent, eye-catching and textured puppets, whose dynamic personalities have been sculpted into every groove, limb, and trait. You can see the dirt under Gepetto’s (David Bradley) fingernails and the weariness around his eyes from his decades-long career as a carpenter in a small town in the Italian hills. He has become a sad and lonely drunkard after the death of his lovely son Carlo during the Great War, a relationship to which the story spends lighthearted time at the beginning to emphasize how profound the loss is for the father. The father creates a wooden character to represent his lost son, like a mad scientist in a drunken state, and the result is rather crude. But when Tilda Swinton’s feathered Wood Sprite brings him to life and names him Pinocchio (Gregory Mann), his scruffy body matches his messy outlook on life.

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It is a wonderful show; The forest sprite is a mythical-looking creature whose color palette and plumage seem inspired by the Nazar of Arabian folklore. Sebastian J. Cricket’s (Ewan McGregor) appearance also falls in the blue spectrum, but with a darker, more regal undertone that matches his rather inflated sense of self-esteem as a traveling writer seeking to pen his own memoir. of the. Sebastian is both a narrator and a supporting character guiding the willful, naive and boisterous wooden boy, whose funniest moments come at the expense of the cricket himself. British accents are a bit strange (most background characters have Italian accents), but McGregor, Bradley, and Mann never fail to imbue Sebastian, Gepetto, and Pinocchio with warmth, vulnerability, and emotional gusto., Mann especially during some sensational singing scenes. His keen musical theater range has a charming shell when he performs songs composed by Alexandre Desplat on thematically appropriate woodwinds. “Ciao Papa” and “Everything is New To Me” are the kind of plot-propelling numbers that suggest this movie could be getting a stage adaptation very soon.

The story follows the same steps as the previous adaptations: the opportunistic Count Volpo, played by Christoph Waltz, tricks Pinocchio into running his show, forcing Gepetto to go on a rescue mission and in turn needing to be rescued. of a huge sea creature. Volpo is a cross between Stromboli, the Fox and the Cat, and Waltz knows how to perfectly alternate this antagonist between sweetness and mischief.

This is by no means a sanitized version of history and his anti-fascist message is quite timely. Set primarily in the 1930s, when the Mussolini regime was infecting the furthest corners of Italy, many citizens live in silent fear. Podesta is the fascist enforcer for Gepetto’s town, voiced by Ron Perlman with a chilling menace. After discovering Pinocchio’s ability to rise from the dead, he plans to enlist him in a camp of brutalist-looking fascist youths (the production design is exceptional) along with his own son, whose life he is willing to sacrifice for this war. . This serves as the other dysfunctional relationship between father and son in a story about pain, love, and accepting each other for what they are instead of rejecting them for what they are not.

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Guillermo del Toro peppers a fairy tale classic with his trademark dark whimsy, complete with impressive puppets and catchy original songs. Full of heart, humor and historical foundationis a phenomenal feat of animated cinema.