In Guillermo del Toro ‘s PINOCCHIO, Academy Award®-winning director Guillermo del Toro and award-winning, stop-motion legend Mark Gustafson reimagine the classic Carlo Collodi tale of the fabled wooden boy with a whimsical tour de force that finds Pinocchio (voiced by Gregory Mann) on an enchanted adventure that transcends worlds and reveals the life-giving power of love.
Leading up to the film’s release, Nightmarish Conjurings’ Shannon McGrew chatted with director Guillermo del Toro. During their chat, they discussed everything from his personal connection to the story of PINOCCHIO, how they shifted the story to make something new, and how important it is to be disobedient in this day and age.
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today, Guillermo. To kick things off, what initially drew you to the story of PINOCCHIO?
Guillermo del Toro: What drew me to the original was my mom. She’d say, we’re going to the movies. And I go, I’m in. And it was the second or third movie I saw with her and I had no idea if we were going to see an Elizabeth Taylor movie or [if] we were going to see an animated movie. Many times in our cinema-going experiences, my mother betrayed my trust by taking me to some lurid melodrama [Laughs]. But in this instance, I was exposed to a movie that I thought was equal parts magical and scary, and that captured how scary childhood is. It made an imprint in my brain that stayed over the decades and persists even now.
There have been quite a few adaptations of PINOCCHIO since Carlo Collodi first published it in 1883, most notably the Disney animated film. Were there certain aspects from the original story or even the animated film that you wanted to make sure were in this film?
Guillermo del Toro: I wanted this movie to stand on its own and to stand as a completely fresh retelling. We wanted equivalence from the adventures that Collodi [wrote]. We substituted Pleasure Island with a re-education military camp. Instead of them turning into donkeys, they get gas masks. Instead of finding the seriousness of that adventure that they’re going to be put to work in the mines, we actually have to confront shooting each other with a real gun. We tried to reverse the idea that Pinocchio has to change to be loved to the idea that Geppetto has to change to be capable of love. We wanted not to tell you a story about being a good boy and an obedient boy, but a disobedient good boy. Disobedience is more urgent now than ever, so we were going in reverse.
I think that I admire and I have admired all my life the Disney version. I think is a masterpiece. I think it’s among the best movies ever made. But we were looking for a different place. And that was part of the decision of tackling it in a different medium. Stop motion is a medium that seems to attract both the weird people like me and the weirder takes on tales. It allows for a more beautiful darkness, if you may, than any other form of animation. We wanted it to stand on its own two wooden feet.
Before we wrap this up, is there anything else you would like people to know about your PINOCCHIO?
Guillermo del Toro: If you can, invite your readers to come to the MoMA Museum in New York for the exhibit of the “Art of Pinocchio,” which we’ll be here for a few months. It’s worth it to see the real sets and the puppets and all of that.
Guillermo del Toro’s PINOCCHIO is now available to stream on Netflix.
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