Set during the rise of Fascism in Mussolini’s Italy, PINOCCHIO is a story of love and disobedience as Pinocchio struggles to live up to his father’s expectations. – NetFlix
After a series of false starts, stalls and short circuits in 2012, 2018, and 2019, Guillermo del Toro is finally directing his adaptation of Carlo Collodi‘s beloved fairy tale ‘PINOCCHIO,‘ which is slated for a 2021 premiere on NetFlix.
I know, fool us three times. But since we are ever the del Toro fans, and since NetFlix is flipping the bill this go around (and because they have deep pockets), and because it’s actually in production, we believe it will make it to the big screen…ah, we mean your computer monitor.
A conscience is that still small voice that people won’t listen to.
– Carlo Collodi, Pinocchio
And because there is an amazing ensemble cast voice work attached and getting paid that includes: newcomer Gregory Mann (as Pinocchio), Ewan McGregor (as Cricket), David Bradley (as Gepetto), plus Tilda Swinton, Christoph Waltz, Finn Wolfhard, Cate Blanchett, John Turturro, Tim Blake, Nelson, Burn Gorman, and del Toro frequent flier, Ron Perlman (call the bomb squad!), we are hopeful!
We kid because we care, and because we have been disappointed each time the project has fizzled over the last eight years. That aside, we are eagerly awaiting this age-old fable masterpiece to get the stop-motion animation “musical” treatment by El Maestro!
Guillermo del Toro is credited as co-director along with Mark Gustafson, who has an extensive animation resume (Fantastic Mr. Fox, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas). Concept designer Guy Davis (The Shape of Water) is utilizing Gris Grimly’s original conceptual illustrations, and the production’s puppets are being built by Mackinnon & Saunders (Corpse Bride), a UK-based studio.
Del Toro recently provided some insight into his vision for the project as he made comparisons and counter traits between Pinocchio and the Mary Shelley creation, Frankenstein (another pet project floating in the ether for some time):
“To me, they’re not exactly the same, but they’re similar. They are both creatures that are created and thrown into a world that they have to figure out on their own. They both have a moral, spiritual journey. I thought Pinocchio could be a great opportunity to talk about disobedience. Obedience isn’t a virtue, it’s a burden. Disobedience is the seed of reason – it’s a desirable way to gain your own soul. I thought this could be an interesting background for Pinocchio, if we set it during the rise of Mussolini – an interesting time for a puppet that refuses to obey.”
The last time we reported out on this project, del Toro had teamed up with renown animation studio Laika—the folk behind Paranorman and Coraline. Since then, work on the animated film has been undertaken by Portland-based ShadowMachine (their biggest project to date) in a co-production partnership with The Jim Henson Company.
It’s a sure bet that del Toro’s take on the subject matter will be exponentially darker than the quaint story we grew up with. Having it set against a Fascist backdrop in the 1930s underscores the point; a common story troupe in his period-piece arsenal: think The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth. Given the open re-emergence of xenophobia and Fascism here in the U.S. and around the globe, and the world-wide pushback by the poor and working class, there can be no doubt but that del Toro’s take on the classic fable will also be an allegorical zeitgeist of these times.
All we can say is BRING IT!