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Why Guillermo del Toro turned Pinocchio into one of his monsters

Guillermo del Toro always knew what he wanted to do pinocchio like a stop-motion animated movie. The medium suited the story of a puppet that came to life, and would fulfill his dream of making an animated film, frustrated 30 years ago by a robbery and a vandal who literally shit on his dreams. His version of pinocchio it would allow him to explore what he saw as the “sacred” link between puppet and animator through the arcane practical techniques of stop-motion.

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

“Very movingly, it becomes a movie about a puppet in a world of people who don’t know they are puppets,” he says. “But they are puppets Everyone is a puppet there. And the one who behaves least like a puppet is the one that everyone thinks is a puppet! I thought there was something delicious about that.”

That irony is at the heart of del Toro’s distinctive Netflix take on the story, which redefines both the setting and Collodi’s morality. pinocchio. It relocates the action to Mussolini’s Italy and recreates Pinocchio himself as a lawless force who frees the humans he encounters, rather than learning to settle for them. It has a lot in common with del Toro’s horror movies set in Spain. The Devil’s Backbone Y The Pan’s Labyrinthwhich present a childish vision of mid-century fascism.

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Pinocchio, a spindly-legged wooden creature with a long, pointy nose and beady eyes, dances on a stage with two other human-like puppets on strings.

Image: Netflix

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“All three are about innocence and war, and dictatorships, waning or active, and how they seep into everyday life, into the family, into a town, into a small church, or into a small life.” del Toro says. “I think one of the issues that links The Pan’s Labyrinth a pinocchio it’s directly disobedience as a virtue, which is a real move contrary to the traditional Pinocchio story, which is: ‘If you obey, you’ll become a real boy.’ In this, it’s ‘If you disobey, you’ve always been true to yourself,’ you know?

When asked why he keeps coming back to this time and this setting, del Toro draws on a feeling he experienced as a child: a fear and distrust of the world that was no less profound for being inexplicable in the context of his comfortable life. . “Was not normal, the amount of fear I had as a child, when I was in a time of peace, in a middle-class family. But I did feel it,” he says emphatically.

“On the one hand, you are given the world of childhood, which is permeated with fairies and wishes and magical worlds. And on the other hand, you’re interacting with a world of brutality and inhumanity, and watch it’s. I mean, it’s impossible for a child not to see it. And everyone tells you things that you see that you constantly don’t believe, or break the rules that they tell you to obey. This paradox is essential in how disorienting and terrifying childhood was for me.

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Pinocchio, a wooden puppet with loose branches sticking out, follows Geppetto, an old man with white whiskers, through a forest.

Image: Netflix

Del Toro’s opinion pinocchio he is so concerned about what it means to be a parent as a child. He spends “a disproportionate amount of time” with Geppetto, the creator of Pinocchio, who in this version plays puppet in a drunken fit of grief and rage over the death of his son, Carlo. The scene of the creation of Pinocchio is shot in a sinister and terrifying way, like a Frankenstein movie. Del Toro is known for his fascination with monsters: is his Pinocchio of him a monster too?

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“Yes, in a way it is. Certainly in this movie,” says del Toro. “I mean, a monster to me is the anomaly that tests the world. […] This man has asked, almost like in a horror story: ‘I want my son back’. And the boy comes back in a way that he doesn’t recognize, and he has a slightly unholy, almost elemental energy because of the resurrection. And I think it’s very important that Geppetto prays for a miracle, and when the miracle happens, he’s unhappy. You know, because the it does get what you want.

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

Pinocchio by Guillermo del Toro is streaming on Netflix now.

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