Pinocchio by Guillermo del Toro

A few months ago, Robert Zemeckis, the legendary director of classics like Back to the Future Y Forrest Gump, gave us a live action adaptation of pinocchio, inspired by the 1940 animation classic, which, in turn, was based on the novel written by the Italian Carlo Collodi in 1883. The result was an empty and soulless product that is far from the magic Disney achieved a long time ago. more than eighty years ago, when digital animation was non-existent.

Three years ago, Matteo Garrone, the author of prestigious films such as Gomorrah, the tale of tales Y Dogman, offered us a charming version of pinocchio, that moves away from the sweet Disney animated tape, to get closer to the harshness and darkness of the original story. In it, Roberto Benigni (who played the wooden doll in a terrible 2002 film that he himself directed), would play the carpenter Gepetto in a gentle and respectful way, which is far from the cartoonish and stereotypical overacting of Tom Hanks in the version from Zemeckis.

The question that arises is the following: with so many versions of pinocchio, is it worth seeing one more? The answer is a resounding yes, and even more so if this new version is assumed by Guillermo del Toro, the Mexican director of masterpieces like Chronos, The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth.

Del Toro is quite an author and, for this reason, he accommodated Collodi’s story to his own personal interests. The story moves from Italy in the 1800s to Fascist Italy in the 1930s, in a similar way to the supernatural and fantastic stories of The Devil’s backbone Y pan’s labyrinth they were located in the historical context of the Spanish Civil War.

The relationship between the old man and the girl Chronos, here it is reviewed when, through a tremendously moving prologue, we are told that Gepetto had a son named Carlo, who tragically died in the bombing of a Church. From here, del Toro lets us know that his film, even if it is made with precious frame-by-frame animation, is not going to sweeten his version or avoid the wild, sad and cruel tone of Collodi’s work.

But the most important thing is that del Toro transforms the essence of the book and the Disney movie, which tell us about the transition from an irresponsible and hedonistic childhood to a responsible and stoic adulthood, to talk to us about how life acquires value and meaning. thanks to death In the hands of another, betraying the central theme of the original work would be a disaster, but del Toro appropriates the wooden doll and makes it his own in a masterful way.

The Mexican director has never hidden his love for animation, especially for the stop motion, what he considers one of the purest forms of art (he produced the charming animated film The book of life, set on the day of the dead, which would end up being eclipsed years later by the superior Coconut from Pixar studios).

As if it were an act of revenge, del Toro not only made the tape of stop motion The longest in history (almost two hours), but instead recruited animation expert Mark Gustafson as co-director, to make a craft work that is in line with the works of the Laika studios (Coraline, Paranormal), but without resorting to digital support to achieve its objectives, drawing inspiration from the beauty, ugliness, surrealism, the iconoclastic spirit and the sense of the absurd, the profane, the sinister and the grotesque, of the works of the masters of art. stop motion Jiri Trnka, Jan Svankmajer and the Bolex and Quay brothers (not forgetting Wes Anderson and Henry Selick), and with an atmosphere that seems to have been taken from paintings by Goya or Bruegel.

The voice work of the actors is exquisite. Ewan McGregor’s sweet voice makes Jiminy Cricket’s character (here Sebastian J. Cricket) finally stop being hateful. In the original story, the cricket is crushed by Pinocchio. In the Disney version, he is the narrator and an integral part of the story. Del Toro takes the best of both worlds.

Child actor Gregory Mann is terrific voicing both Carlo and the wooden doll. David Bradley (Game of Thrones) contributes his wonderful voice to embody Gepetto, who here is an alcoholic and bitter old man, who wants to transform the wooden doll into the image and likeness of his son Carlo, when the two children are very different. The great Tilda Swinton embodies the “fairies” of life and death, which are far removed from the Blue Fairy of previous versions, to become two primal creatures that come from the forest and with the appearance of Greek sphinxes, the which break with the traditional representations of fairy tales and children’s cinema, and which are similar to Pan (the intimidating being that the girl Ofelia discovers in The Pan’s Labyrinth) and the Angel of Death of Hellboy II.

And we cannot leave out Christoph Waltz, who plays the demonic Count Volpe, the film’s central villain (a cross between Zorro and Mangiafuoco from Collodi’s work); and Cate Blanchett, snarling and squealing wordlessly as the monkey Spazzatura, Volpe’s assistant (replacing the rascal cat in the original tale). Ron Perlman (hellboy), friend and constant collaborator of del Toro, is Podesta, a man who recommends indoctrinating Pinocchio according to the fascist doctrine of Mussolini (Tom Kenny) and whose son Candlewick (Finn Wolfhard de stranger things), seeks his love and approval.

Not everything is different regarding the Disney adaptation. The score by Alexandre Desplat and the musical numbers of this tape are presented in an organic way and become beautiful and charming in every way.

Unlike Robert Zemeckis, George Lucas or James Cameron, who succumbed to the technological and industrial aspect of cinema, to forget about the humanity, depth and emotion that should be an integral part of the seventh art, del Toro delivers a work full of details that he meditates on the concept of family, on love, life, death, the absurdity of war and especially on freedom and anarchy. The ending is captivating and he reminds us so much of Frankenstein of Mary Shelley as The spirit of the hive by Víctor Erice, not to mention the touches of Buñuel that are found throughout the entire film.

This is a true del Toro masterpiece, not like his overrated The shape of the water. Thanks to his version of Pinocchio, the cinema has recovered its magic, regardless of whether it is seen in the darkness of a movie theater with a good bucket of popcorn, or through a platform of streaming in the warmth of the home with a good cup of chocolate.

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Pinocchio by Guillermo del Toro

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