By: Amanda Guarragi
The story of Pinocchio has been adapted many times. Some have done it through live-action and modernized it. Others have reimagined it through the power of animation. After similar iterations, no one has altered the story and created something so poignant as Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson. This version of the story is adapted from the book written by Carlo Collodi and is a more grounded retelling of the famous story. This version felt more authentic to Geppetto (David Bradley) and his life in Italy. Collodi presented a different narrative because of his native Italian heritage. Del Toro showed an unfair world under the Mussolini regime and how children were taken away from their families. This film particularly highlights the dynamic between father and son through different perspectives. The emotional connection to Geppetto is established early on that will resonate with audiences throughout, making it easy to feel for Geppetto’s loss.
As we all know, Geppetto loses his son. While grieving, Geppetto wishes that Carlo would magically return to him. Early in the film, Del Toro and Collodi create a bond between father and son. Which is something we have never gotten before in previous adaptations. We get to see their relationship and how Geppetto adored his son, Carlo. They were both loving, sweet, and incredibly caring. Even when Geppetto walked through town with Carlo, everyone praised the two of them. The townspeople knew their circumstances and expressed how gracious they both were. They enjoyed each other’s company, no matter what they were doing. Del Toro’s visual storytelling through animation is some of his best work because of the attention to detail in Pinocchio’s story. The images on the screen held meaning, which is deeply connected to Carlo’s life and how much he meant to Geppetto. Del Toro used a single pine cone to tell one of the most heartbreaking stories of the year.
Even though there have been many that have come before it, the reason why this version of Pinocchio is the best is because of the way the story is presented. Animation is a powerful medium that can turn one man’s grief into a magical exploration of human connection. As someone who has recently lost someone dear to them, del Toro’s Pinocchio struck such a chord in me. No matter how badly we want our loved ones back, it’s impossible to regain what we once had. Thus, new relationships must form, not to take the place of the hole in your heart, but to grow with others around you. Geppetto drank away his life without moving forward, and one night he carved Carlo out of pine. Geppetto’s grief pushed him to create a wooden boy. And through his tears, life was brought back to his home. While little Pinocchio is trying to navigate his new life with the help of Sebastian J. Cricket (Ewan McGregor), Geppetto cannot accept this new entity as his Carlo. Geppetto and Pinocchio (Gregory Mann) try to understand each other and how this new relationship will work. In doing so, words are exchanged that do more harm than good.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is beautifully written and will resonate with many who have experienced loss. The bond between father and son is explored on multiple fronts, and how fragile relationships can be. The film is grounded in Geppetto’s love for his son, and through the stunning visuals, his love is transported through the magical creatures who help him move forward. Del Toro is a master of his craft because he can make the fantastical incredibly grounded and emotional through the complexity of his characters. There are layers to Geppetto and Pinocchio that have never been explored before. Every aspect of this film is brought together by Alexandre Desplat’s touching score that plays so softly in times of sadness for Geppetto. It’s almost as if the music moves with his emotions as he enters each stage of grief. This version of Pinocchio is the best adaptation to date. And one of the best films Netflix has made. It will begin streaming on December 9th, do not miss this one.