On Netflix, dark and sweet “pinocchio” of Guillermo del Toro

The new version of Carlo Collodi’s work, put online on Friday on the platform, is a wonderful tale, echo of the obsessions of the Mexican director.

by Thomas Sotinal

We can do what we want from Pinocchio: after all, it’s just a piece of wood. The speaking log out of the imagination of Carlo Collodi (1826-1890) has become a toy with rounded shapes at Walt Disney (1940), a real little boy, son of Nino Manfredi, in the adaptation of Luigi Comencini ( 1972), the protagonist of the erotic adventures of Pinocchio (Corey Allen, 1971) and that of a horror film (La Revanche de Pinocchio, Kevin Tenney, 1996). In the past two years, he has taken the features of a child made up in Pantin in the version of Matteo Garrone and recomposed in Mièvres pixels for Robert Zemeckis who worked for the Disney platform.

Why then be interested in the new addition of this endless filmography rather than rereading the violent, poetic and sometimes inconsistent text of Collodi? Because Guillermo Del Toro, who signs, with host Mark Gustafson, the adaptation that Netflix puts online on December 9, found in the tribulations of the puppet of what nourishing his own obsessions, and that he made it a Show both dark and sweet, a melancholy enchantment that evokes the days that shorten and the trees that strip more than Christmas lights.

This pinocchio- beyond the screen by the grace of the animation in stop motion. Guillermo Del Toro and Patrick Mchale’s script gives him a reason for being that we do not find at Collodi. Gepetto, an imposing old man, does not seek to furnish his loneliness but to get out of the mourning of his son who perished in a bombardment (we quickly understand that history is located not far from the border between Italy and Austria -Hhongrie, shortly after the armistice of 1918). Present from the first sequence, death will never move away. As it is customary when we adapt this story, the author has rearrang the episodes, amended them or metamorphosed.

The Pinocchio life drive, which nevertheless never loses its woody physiognomy, is irrepressible. It comes up against conventions, but also to the desire of its creator to maintain it in the limbo, very close to the missing son. Guillermo del Toro explains it in the note of intent that accompanies the film: for him, the Italian puppet is the cousin of the creature of Doctor Frankenstein, an artificial and deeply human being who struggles under the influence (here benevolent) of its creator.

We will find the puppet theater, led by a terrifying incarnation of show business, but the island of children, the one where the dunce is changed in donkeys, becomes here an Alpine fortress where the fascists prepare the boys for the career military. As in Pan’s labyrinth, the Mexican filmmaker offers a childish character the help of the supernatural to escape the rets of totalitarianism. In Pinocchio, Mussolini took the place of Franco, and the blue fairy that of the magic creatures that populated the labyrinth. The beautiful lady of Walt Disney or Comencini (who had entrusted the role to Gina Lollobrigida) gives way to a strange creature which could be out of a canvas of Odilon Redon, to the unstable physiognomy.

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/Media reports cited above.