Italian writer Carlo Collodi’s late 19th-century story, The Adventures of Pinocchio, about a wooden puppet who wishes to become a real boy, has been told many times before. From Disney’s 1940 animated musical to its live-action remake that was just released last month on Disney+, countless versions of Pinocchio have been adapted over the last 140 years.
Now, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro will get his chance to share his own world of Pinocchio with viewers who want something a bit darker than the average Disney fare. Del Toro’s stop-motion animated film will turn the narrative on its head by introducing the title character as a mischievous marionette. It’s one of the biggest differences del Toro sees between his Pinocchio and others that have come before.
“I would say most every other Pinocchio story is about obedience. Ours is about disobedience,” del Toro said during a press conference. “Disobedience being a primal factor in becoming human and how becoming human doesn’t mean changing yourself or others but understanding. I think the first step towards a conscience and the soul, for me, is disobedience.”
Set in fascist Italy in the 1930s during the rise of Benito Mussolini, del Toro said his version of Pinocchio was crafted thinking about the differences between “ideas” and “ideology.”
“An idea is an idea that you construct form experience and compassion and understanding,” he said. “An ideology is something that is given to you, and you’re told to obey it blindly. Also…it’s a very different backdrop that illuminates a different type of paternal structure…in the time of war.”
During the press conference, del Toro went on to describe his Pinocchio as being a part of a “very lethal form of control and paternity,” a film that has “a depth and a resonance that will be very much its own” and something that is “whimsical.”
“[It’s a] movie that is tackling adult notions, but it can be watched in a family environment,” he said. “It is beautiful and moving and has an incredibly warm heart. But it deals with the notions and emotions and things that will take you back to the real world.”
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio premieres December 2022 on Netflix.