Guillermo del Toro explains why Pinocchio is now one of his monsters

Guillermo del Toro always knew what he wanted to do Pinocchio like a stop-motion animated movie. The medium fits the story of a puppet brought to life, and it will be complete his dream of making cartoons, was thwarted 30 years ago by a break-in and a vandal who literally shattered his dreams. his version Pinocchio will allow him to discover what he considers to be the “sacred” bond between puppets and animators through the complex practical techniques of stop motion.

But he also knew he wanted to make profound changes to the original material, Carlo Collodi’s 19th-century children’s book about a naughty puppet who learns to be obedient and selfless. In fact, he wants to subvert it, and stop-motion will help him do that. Del Toro found a poetic irony in telling the story of Pinocchio this way, he recently told Polygon.

“So poignant, it becomes a movie about a puppet in a world of people who don’t know they are puppets,” he said. “But they to be puppets. Everyone is a puppet in it. And the one who behaves less like a puppet than the one people think is a puppet! I think there is something delicious in it.”

That irony is at the heart of Del Toro’s Netflix special takes over the storyredefining both the context and ethics of Collodi’s Pinocchio. He shifts the action to Mussolini’s Italy, and reinvents himself as Pinocchio as an anarchist force that liberates the humans he meets, rather than learning to obey them. It has much in common with del Toro .’s Spanish-set horror films devil’s spine and Pan .’s Labyrinthboth show a child’s perspective on mid-century fascism.

Pinocchio, a thin-legged wooden creature with a long, pointed nose and small eyes, danced on stage with two more human-like puppets on strings.

Image: Netflix

“Three of them talk about innocence and war, dictatorship, decay or activism, and how it permeates everyday life, families, towns, small churches, or small lives. baby,” said del Toro. “I think one of the linking topics Pan .’s Labyrinth arrive Pinocchio direct is disobedience as a virtue — it’s a real response to the traditional Pinocchio story, which is, ‘If you obey, you’ll become a real child.’ In it, it’s ‘If you disobey, you will always stay true to yourself’, you know?

When asked why he keeps coming back to this era and this setting, del Toro looks to the feeling he experienced in his childhood: fear and mistrust of the world no less. profoundly inexplicable in the context of his comfortable life. “It is not usually, common, normal, the fear that I had as a child, when I was in peacetime, in a middle-class family. But I did feel it, he said emphatically.

“On the one hand, you are given the world of childhood, which is filled with fairies, wishes, and magical worlds. And on the other hand, you are interacting with a brutal and inhuman world, and you to watch it. I mean, a kid can’t help but see it. And people are telling you things you see they constantly don’t believe, or breaking the rules they tell you you should follow. This paradox is essential to show how disorienting and terrifying my childhood was.”

Pinocchio, a wooden puppet with fallen branches, follows Geppetto, an old man with a white beard, through a forest.

Image: Netflix

Del Toro in charge Pinocchio also interested in what it means to be a parent at an early age. It spends “a disproportionate amount of time” with Pinocchio’s creator Geppetto, who in this version has the puppet intoxicated with grief and anger over the death of his son, Carlo. Pinocchio’s creation scene is shot in a sinister, scary way, like a Frankenstein movie. Del Toro is known for his fascination with monsters: Is his Pinocchio a monster too?

“Yes, in a way it is. Definitely in this movie,” del Toro said. “I mean, a monster to me is an anomaly that challenges the world. […] This man asked, almost like in a horror story: ‘I want my baby back.’ And the child returns in a way he doesn’t realize, and has a little unsacred, almost elemental energy due to the resurrection. And I think it is very important that Geppetto prays for a miracle, and when the miracle happens, he is not happy. You know, because he do get what he wants.

“Geppetto who is obsessed with perfection […] learn that imperfection, and things as they are, are the only wisdom you can have in this world; Not in search of perfection, but in search of imperfection as a virtue.”

Pinocchio by Guillermo del Toro currently streaming on Netflix.

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