The new adaptation of the fairy tale by Carlo Collodi takes the wooden Pinocchio to fascist Italy in the 1930s. To support his father Geppetto, Pinocchio decides to become a circus performer. Life makes cruel adjustments, and soon Gepetto goes in search of his child.
Sometimes it rightly seems that Guillermo del Toro, who has made a name for rethinking horror in the last twenty years, has no bad jobs and days. Considering that the process of creating a new Pinocchio has been going on since at least 2008, it is also amazing how the director managed not to lose his imagination and energy to create one of the most emotional and visually striking cartoons of recent years. The second in a year version of the fairy tale about a wooden boy with a nose growing because of any lie surpasses not only the neighboring (and insipid) remake with Tom Hanks, but also, perhaps, the original Disney classic. The new Netflix project combined themes that are universal for children and adults about pain faced regardless of age, acceptance of death and the fight against the fascist regime. It is hardly possible to imagine such a combination in any other commercial project.
Creative control and his own name in the title allowed del Toro to start “Pinocchio” with words about imperfect fathers and sons. Carpenter Geppetto (David Bradley) and his living son Carlo had more and more in common. Despite the absence of their mother, both developed an excellent family bond, which was cut short by the explosion of the church, where Carlo ran for a moment. A bomb was dropped on the house of God by chance, returning from another mission. Geppetto despaired, went into a binge, after many years had not come to terms with the loss. One night, being in a drunken stupor, to the sound of thunder, he creates a far from ideal replacement for Carlo in the person of Pinocchio (debutant Gregory Mann). There is a long road ahead from love to complete acceptance, from domestic troubles to a real battlefield, from death to immortality (and back), before young Frankenstein comes to terms with a compassionate creator and understands that things that happen are inevitable, what is destined to die, will die anyway.
This kind of philosophy in the year that changed history in 2022 may seem like a finishing stone in the ocean of suffering, because now there is nothing and cannot be more valuable than escapist consolations. But del Toro does not sweeten the pill, even making a fairy tale a realistic reality and pain, he asks to find chips of dignity and love in the midst of horror and darkness. Stopping the natural course of events is beyond the power of wooden statues, people, reflective memoirists-crickets (Ewan McGregor) and even commanding death sphinxes in the voice acting of Tilda Swinton. Even in the belly of a bloodthirsty whale and in the midst of floating mines, there is a chance for recovery, liberation, sometimes a white lie.
“Pinocchio” analyzes the fathers as ruthlessly painstakingly as the recent “My Sun” by Charlotte Wells – different types, leading to a common denominator. Geppetto knows that he is not capable of replacing Carlo, but will continue to emotionally put pressure on Pinocchio, which will lead to sad consequences. The local chief of staff (Ron Perlman) sends his own son (Finn Wolfhard) to the camp for young soldiers, refusing to recognize his fears. The cunning puppeteer Volpe (Christoph Waltz) uses both Pinocchio and the servant monkey Spazzatura (Cate Blanchett) for his own purposes before dying, unable to transform.
Sometimes the director, along with co-writers Mark Gustafson and Patrick McHale, flies into light didacticism, but by the end he goes into the sunset in the most fearless, ready-for-everything way. Fantastic work of 40 animators who manually created Italy, the afterlife and other spaces; Alexandre Desplat’s soundtrack, melancholy sincere musical numbers, references to del Toro’s previous works (Pan’s Labyrinth, Nightmare Alley) can resonate with most viewers. Pinocchio chooses life, gives it away, advises to do the same in order to preserve the remnants of humanity, the reserves of which are actually unlimited.