A Guillermo del Toro version of the beloved children’s character Pinocchio was always probably a little darker than most adaptations and maybe something not exactly kid-friendly. But – although it is not the first time he has done so – few would have immediately expected that his stop-motion musical adaptation of the fantasy drama would be set against the backdrop of fascism.
Speaking at a Netflix special event ahead of Saturday’s world premiere Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio — his directorial debut for an animated film (he co-directed with Mark Gustafson) — the acclaimed Mexican director said the film was “thematically” on par with The Labyrinth of Pan and The Devil’s Backboneboth of which related to the Spanish Civil War (The Devil’s Backbone set during and The Labyrinth of Pan afterwards, during Franco’s early reign). His Pinocchio, kept geographically correct, is set in Benito Mussolini’s fascist Italy.
“The three films are about childhood being confronted with something to do with war and violence,” he explains. “I think for me it’s always been the movies about fatherhood and being a father or being a son, and I think in those reruns, fascism seems to be preoccupied with a father figure of a different kind, and the desire to surrender ourselves. deliver to a father who unites the mind. So I think it’s both background and thematically interesting.”
Del Toro said he understood why his Pinocchio came with his name in the title, as he wanted to turn his version upside down.
“For me there is Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchiothere’s Walt Disney’s Pinocchioand there is Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,” he explained. “Because for me it was interesting: can I make a Pinocchio that celebrates disobedience instead of celebrating obedience? Can I make a Pinocchio where he doesn’t have to become a real boy in the end because he was obedient? ”
In a rare case of case for a filmmaker who has worked with countless big stars, del Toro said he once spent a “drunken evening in Brazil” discussing literature with the late One Hundred Years of Solitude author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. And he said there are 10 characters in the history of literature that can be interpreted in any way, including Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, Frankenstein, Pinocchio, and the Count of Monte Cristo. He said you could use them for symbols of many different things. You can put them in space, you can make them president, you can put them in a political or financial context. Something. There will always be songs that change with the key of the singer. And I found that incredibly liberating.”
Featuring a voice cast including Ewan McGregor, Christoph Waltz, David Bradley, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Ron Perlman, Finn Wolfhard and newcomer Gregory Mann as Pinocchio, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is scheduled to release in select theaters in November and will hit Netflix on December 9.