Guillermo del Toro knows how to tell a fantastical story. The beloved director brought magical realism to life in films like Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak, and The Shape of Water, the latter of which earned him Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director. It seems his mind is geared towards dark fairy tales, which makes him the perfect man to tackle Pinocchio. And he’s about to do just that.
Here’s everything we know (so far) about Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio.
Simply enough, Netflix’s rendition of the story is titled Pinocchio.
Pinocchio has been filming since 2019 at ShadowMachine’s Portland, Oregon-based studio according to The Hollywood Reporter, and is a product of del Toro’s deal with Netflix. The film will be a stop-motion musical, and the story of the puppet coming to life will more closely follow Carlo Collodi’s original tale, The Adventures of Pinocchio, than films past. Here’s the full description from Netflix:
Drawing on the classic Carlo Collodi tale, this stop motion musical follows the extraordinary journey of a wooden boy magically brought to life by a father’s wish. Set during the rise of Fascism in Mussolini’s Italy, del Toro’s Pinocchio is a story of love and disobedience as Pinocchio struggles to live up to his father’s expectations.
A little while ago, Netflix released the first teaser for Pinocchio:
Alongside the teaser, the platform shared a new synopsis:
Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro reinvents Carlo Collodi’s classic tale of the wooden marionette who is magically brought to life in order to mend the heart of a grieving woodcarver named Geppetto. This whimsical, stop-motion musical directed by Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson follows the mischievous and disobedient adventures of Pinocchio in his pursuit of a place in the world.
Pinocchio, it turns out, is also a lifelong dream of del Toro’s. He shares more about working on this “dream project” with Netflix:
After years of pursuing this dream project, I found my perfect partner in Netflix. We have spent a long time curating a remarkable cast and crew and have been blessed by continuous support from Netflix to quietly and carefully soldier on, barely missing a beat. We all love and practice animation with great passion and believe it to be the ideal medium to retell this classic story in a completely new way.
The director also told Collider more about the process of creating the movie:
It’s a very very very personal movie for me. The flip-side for me [has] always been Pinocchio and Frankenstein, are the same story. Because essentially, that’s the same story. The idea of a Pinocchio that talks about things that I consider very deep but it’s fun and it’s a musical at the same time, I find it really incredibly moving. Obviously, in animation, you get to see the movie in storyboards beginning to end many many times, and then you add the stop-motion. Right now, we are 50% animated and 50% in storyboards. Every time I watch the movie I just sob like a baby. It’s as personal as it gets, as moving as it gets. It’s unlike any version of the story you’ve ever seen. It’s completely unlike it. It subverts the moral underpinnings of the original fable, which is, in order to be a real boy you have to change. You’re going to become flesh and blood. This is about becoming a real boy by acting…acting like a real human, period.
In the Oscar-winning filmmaker’s new stop-motion animated movie, “real” is a given. “I have never believed that transformation be demanded to gain love.”
🔗: https://t.co/Hpb1TFNW3O pic.twitter.com/5Ami0g70o5— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) June 14, 2022
Del Toro also adds, speaking to Vanity Fair:
Many times the fable has seemed, to me, in favor of obedience and domestication of the soul. Blind obedience is not a virtue. The virtue Pinocchio has is to disobey. At a time when everybody else behaves as a puppet—he doesn’t. Those are the interesting things, for me. I don’t want to retell the same story. I want to tell it my way and in the way I understand the world.
Additionally, we learn that in this retelling, Pinocchio is carved from a tree that grows on the grave of Gepetto’s son. Geptetto wishes for another chance to be a father, but does not get exactly what he bargained for. Also, in this tale, the story strives to be realistic where it can. Instead of the Pleasure Island arc, Pinocchio “is recruited into the village military camp, because the fascist official in town thinks if this puppet cannot die, it would make the perfect soldier.” The article notes that Jiminy Cricket will have a story of finding love and humility. And the Candlewick will begin as an antagonist but ultimately end up being a friend.
Ultimately, the story, the article concludes, “There are many ways to lie, however. In del Toro’s Pinocchio, one of the worst is to be untrue to yourself.”
For Netflix’s TUDUM event in September 2022, del Toro took fans behind the film’s amazing craftwork with this special clip. Watching this artform come to life only makes us want to see this film even more.
Behind the Scenes
Del Toro will share his director’s credit with Mark Gustafson, a filmmaker known for his work on stop-motion projects like A Claymation Christmas Special, Meet the Raisins!, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas. Patrick McHale, known for his work on Adventure Time and Over the Garden Wall, co-wrote the script with del Toro.
The cast for Pinocchio is truly wonderful. Newcomer Gregory Mann stars as Pinocchio, with Ewan McGregor in the Jiminy Cricket role (billed only as Cricket for this project) and David Bradley as Geppetto. Tilda Swinton will play the Turquoise Fairy. Cate Blanchett, Finn Wolfhard, Christoph Waltz, John Turturro, Ron Perlman, Tim Blake Nelson, and Burn Gorman will also star.
Pinocchio’s Release Date
In his interview with Collider, del Toro also revealed, “The movie will come out last quarter of 2022.” We know now that Pinocchio will release on December 9, on Netflix. The movie will also release in theaters, but the date of the theatrical release is not yet known.