Guillermo del Toro on Why He Set “Pinocchio” in a World of Fascism

Guillermo del Toro was never going to make a wooden Pinocchio. What we mean by that admittedly bad pun is that the visionary director was always going to take the deathless story of Pinocchio and mold it into something unique and personal. And Pinocchio is deeply personal to the auteur, who has said that it’s the story that probably shaped him more than any other. “No art form has influenced my life and my work more than animation, and no single character in history has had as deep of a personal connection to me as Pinocchio,” he said in a statement when the film was announced.

Yet Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (its official title) represents his first foray into animation, and even for a director as resolutely unique as Del Toro, one might still be surprised to find out that he’s created an animated movie that’s “thematically” linked to two of his most celebrated, harrowing works—Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone—both of which dealt with the Spanish Civil War. The Devil’s Backbone takes place during the war, while Pan’s Labyrinth is set during the beginning of Franco’s brutal reign. For Pinocchio, Del Toro set the action in Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Italy.

“The three movies are to do with childhood coming up against something that has to do with war and violence,” he said during a special event held by Netflix before the film’s world premiere this coming Saturday. “I think for me, it’s always been the movies about fatherhood and being a father or being a son, and I think in those iterations, Fascism seems to be concerned with a father figure of a different kind and the desire to deliver ourselves to a father that unifies thought. So I think it’s both a background and it is something interesting thematically.”

Del Toro explained that the reason his name is attached to the film’s title is that he embraced how his vision for the character will be different from Carlo Collodi’s original and Walt Disney’s adaptation.

“For me, there is Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio, there is Walt Disney’s Pinocchio, and there’s Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio. Because to me, the interesting thing was: Can I make a Pinocchio that celebrates disobedience as opposed to celebrating obedience? Can I make a Pinocchio in which he doesn’t have to turn into a real boy at the end because he was obedient?”

Del Toro said he was inspired by some insight shared by the legendary Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author of “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” during a night of partying in Brazil.

“He said there were 10 characters in the history of literature that can be interpreted any way they want, including Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, Frankenstein, Pinocchio, and the Count of Monte Cristo. He said you could use them for symbols of many, many different things. You can put them in space, you can make them president, you can put them in a political or financial context. Anything. There will always be songs that will change with the key of the singer. And I thought that was incredibly liberating.”

Del Toro is one of the most liberated directors around already, so to hear him describe his vision for Pinocchio is very exciting indeed.

Del Toro’s film boasts a voice cast that includes Ewan McGregor, Christoph Waltz, David Bradley, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Ron Perlman, Finn Wolfhard, and newcomer Gregory Mann as Pinocchio.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio will hit select cinemas in November and begin streaming on Netflix on Dec. 9

For more on Pinocchio, check out these stories:

Guillermo del Toro’s “Pinocchio” Reveals Official Trailer

For more on Guillermo del Toro, check out these stories:

The Official Trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s “Cabinet of Curiosities” is a Creepfest

Netflix Reveals First Look at Guillermo del Toro’s “Cabinet of Curiosities”

Featured image: PINOCCHIO (Pictured) GUILLERMO DEL TORO. Cr. © 2020


The Credits

The Credits is an online magazine that tells the story behind the story to celebrate our large and diverse creative community. Focusing on profiles of below-the-line filmmakers, The Credits celebrates the often uncelebrated individuals who are indispensable to the films and TV shows we love.