By TREVOR HOGG
Images courtesy of Netflix.
When Italian writer Carlo Collodi published the novel The Adventures of Pinocchio in 1883 about a wooden marionette who desires to become a real boy, the movie industry did not exist. The story has taken a life of its own on the big screen with the most famous being the 1940 Disney animated classic, but this did not deter filmmaker Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water) to put forth his own version of the fairy tale utilizing stop-motion animation, and partnering with co-director Mark Gustafson (The PJs) and Netflix. “The biggest challenge is that it took almost two decades to get this made,” del Toro notes. “It was a completely new approach to the material that made the pilgrimage through the world of financing and logistics difficult.”
In Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, the title character does not transform into flesh and blood. “That was clear to me from the start,” del Toro explains. “In a way, it’s about subverting and finding new meaning on the themes of Pinocchio. One is that disobedience is actually the beginning of thought and conscience, which goes against the idea that a good boy is a boy who obeys. The second one is the idea that you don’t have to transform yourself to be loved. You can be loved for exactly who you are.”
Character traits influenced the design of the puppets. “There are practical considerations because they do physically exist,”
Gustafson notes. “Some of those limitations can play to your advantage. Pinocchio is a perfect character to do in stop-motion because he is a puppet. There is something simpler about Pinocchio that makes the audience lean in and connect with him. His face isn’t all over the place. We wanted him to be made of wood, and that brings a power once you figure out this language.”