Pinocchio Review



Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio has been in production since 2008

Jacob Hallberg, Staff Writer

Guillermo Del Toro’s long awaited adaptation of Pinocchio has finally arrived on Netflix. Not to be confused with the 1940 Disney film of the same name, or the live action remake of said Disney film which came out last September. This is a wholly different take on the classic Pinocchio story, with a noticeably more mature tone. The film uses stop motion animation to bring its characters to life in spectacular fashion. Pinocchio is a visually stunning film, which masterfully tells its story.

The film is set in fascist Italy in the late 1930s, during the lead-up to World War II. In a small town in the country lives Gepetto, an old carpenter, bitter from the death of his son. One night Geppetto drinks too much, and cuts down a tree, much to the chagrin of the cricket who was planning to use it as a house, and uses it to construct a wooden puppet in a vain attempt to recreate his son. After Gepetto passes out, a forest spirit appears and gives life to the wooden boy, who she names Pinocchio. The spirit makes a deal with the displaced cricket to become Pinocchio’s conscience and guide him toward being good. Pinocchio then struggles to learn right from wrong in a world full of the latter and lacking in the former.

This story is likely familiar to many. After all, it follows the same general structure as the 1940 Disney film. However, this film blends in elements of the original 1881 story which the Disney version left out. It also changes the setting and much of the context of the story, but it does so in a way that feels faithful to the source material. As a result, Pinocchio is an interesting fusion of new and old elements, and it’s all the better for it.

It’s impossible to separate this film from its visionary director, Guillermo Del Toro. His signature darkly fantastical style is present throughout the entire film. Pinocchio is noticeably darker in tone when compared to its contemporaries. It’s not a gritty noir, or a bloody war film or anything, it is rated PG after all. But it does mean that it doesn’t talk down to its audience and respects their ability to understand more complex themes like loss, and mortality.

Of course this film has some issues, however, aside from minor nitpicks, the only big issue with this film is the lack of interaction between Pinocchio and his conscience, Jiminy Cricket. In fact, Jiminy and Pinocchio are separated for a large portion of the film. While this means that Pinocchio makes all the biggest decisions, and learns the most important lessons on his own, without the aid of a conscience, which is better for his character. It also means that Jiminy is left without much to do, and is more often than not reduced to simply being a comedic relief character. While it would have been nice to see Jiminy and Pinocchio together more often, it doesn’t detract much from the overall narrative.

All in all, Pinocchio is a great film for all ages. It’s a film which respects its audience and isn’t afraid to tell a more mature story. And it overcomes any issues by telling a wonderful and timeless story.