Pinocchio review: Guillermo del Toro closes his childhood trilogy

Once upon a time there was a Mexican director who, through monsters, fantasy and human emotions, decided to narrate his own stories in the seventh art. From his first works, his intention to create these unique universes was shown, to fight for what he wanted to do and fulfill his long-awaited dreams. That filmmaker is Guillermo del Torowho now thanks to Netflix can close a very personal trilogy with the reinterpretation of a story very much in his style: pinocchio.

DEL ESPINAZO, THE LABYRINTH AND A CHILD: THE PAINFUL MAGIC OF PINOCCHIO

It is not the first time that del Toro has taken childhood and war as a reference to create a very personal universe. This contrast between both perspectives is, in fact, what has cemented his most personal works. The first nod to it was in The Devil’s backbone (2001)where he told the story of an almost abandoned orphanage in the middle of the Spanish Civil War where the conception of ghosts played with the loss of innocence and the look of a lost childhood surrounded by specters that were not necessarily supernatural.

Later, in what for many is his best film, Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) would show a confrontation between the harsh reality of that same warlike battle that defined a nation in the face of the painful horror of Francoism with the dreams and visions of a girl who believes in fantasy, magic and who, through certain tests, would have to return to your magical kingdom to leave this tragic fate. Emotional and dramatic, her monsters would earn six Oscar nominations and take three.

sixteen years later, Guillermo del Toro found the icing on the cake with pinocchioclosing that painful trilogy for him in which a child is the guide not to the moral learning of the Disney versions or the various previous live action versions, but to a reimagining in the midst of a time where loss, disobedience and fear come together in a stop motion project of a high manufacture.

Guillermo del Toro and a model of Pinocchio // Photo: Netflix

BRINGING ANIMATION TO LIFE: THE MUSIC AND VOICES BEHIND PINOCCHIO

To bring to life this new adaptation of the classic tale of carlo collodiItalian writer and singer born in Florence, The Guadalajara filmmaker had to choose the voices that would give life to these characters who now live in a universe developed in the period between the great wars. Therefore, he resorts to a litter of old acquaintances, as well as adds new actors so that this story acquires that fantastic realistic tint.

for the awareness of pinocchiocould not miss Jiminy Cricket/Sebastian J. Crickett, who becomes the narrator of this story with less importance than other versions. Therefore, who better than Ewan McGregor to give it that fun and formal touch, complemented in a good way with Oscar Flores in the Spanish version. Likewise, the experience of David Bradley like Gepetto who also makes a good duo with the experienced career of Jesse Conde in dubbing.

But it is the wooden boy who becomes the key piece, being a perfect desperate, tender, innocent and malicious child who would give everything for his grieving father. And he’s into the talented young man gregory mann that the Mexican director finds an interesting balance in his original voice and complements well with Leo Novoa. This, coupled with the music of Alexandre Desplat who is going for another Academy Award nomination in her second collaboration with him, knowing how to take the dramatic moments with the beautiful ones and giving it that touch of fable that the film needs.

Pinocchio by Guillermo del Toro
Gepetto and Pinocchio // Photo: Netflix

DISOBEDIENCE AS AN OPTION: THE ESSENCE OF PINOCCHIO WITH DEL TORO

Another highlight of this version of the popular wooden character is placing it during the fascism of Benito Mussolini, since using the innocence of the puppet it shows interesting aspects about disobedience as a resource to break with the imposition of a single way of thinking and behave. This Pinocchio finds there the communicating vessels of him in the other two works by del Toro mentioned above, because they do not agree with what is happening and, in one way or another, they seek to break the oppressive system.

There is also another interesting factor in this adaptation where disobedience is admitted as a factor of challenge even for death, an aspect that distinguishes this reinvention over the others since it is a characteristic element of the original work that had not been put into play. It is clear that here, the man from Guadalajara makes it faithful to his style and reproduces it in a good way, showing the influences of his other cinematographic works in the design of the story.

Pinocchio by Guillermo del Toro
Ewan McGregor gives the voice of Jiminy Cricket/Sebastian J. Crickett in Pinocchio // Photo: Netflix

EL TALLER DEL CHUCHO: THE HOUSE AND THE MEXICAN TALENT IN PINOCCHIO

As if that were not enough, it is worth highlighting the work of Mexican talent in the film and the important contribution of The Chucho’s Workshop, one of two houses that had the production and that had seven main artists who are figures of the genre. Among the prominent names we find Rita Basulto, Sofía Carrillo, Carla Castañeda, René Castillo, León Ferández, Juan Medina and Luis Téllezwho collaborated to create the textures, character design and this universe in stop motion art.

The work of production art design is impressive beyond the fact that it can feel like a recycling of other resources and ideas that the Jalisco artist has used before. It is notorious in certain cases, such as the Angel of Death, the echoes of Hellboy 2 or the same Pan’s Labyrinth. Also, there are very well edited sequences that refer directly to the story of Santi and the ghosts of the Devil’s Backbone.

Pinocchio by Guillermo del Toro
One of the posters of the Guillermo del Toro film // Image: Netflix.

There is no doubt that the manufacturing of the elements of this story give it the necessary dark and powerful touch that, although it does not overflow stylistically towards a terror like Garrone’s live action, and suddenly gives certain bumps that do not quite fit with some songs, del Toro does give us a fantastic story with humorous overtones in the midst of an emotionality that knows how to give the right tones of sadness in order to close this trilogy of childhood in the war in a good way.

Pinocchio review: Guillermo del Toro closes his childhood trilogy