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Guillermo del Toro Gives New Life To The Classic Fairy Tale ‘Pinocchio’ – Review

by Angel Amaral

After so many versions of the Pinocchio story, it is hard to imagine a new version being incredibly moving and joyful. However, leave it to director Guillermo del Toro to craft such a unique and magical journey. Based on his previous works and storytelling style, this folklore story, which includes dark mythical elements and fanciful beings, was the perfect fit for del Toro’s warm heart.

Set during Mussolini’s fascist Italy, del Toro gives new life to a classic fairy tale, highlighting the terror of authority and the despair that love can lead to. The risk of love is to carry a burden of pain inevitably. Through loss, rebirth, and change, Pinocchio is guided to be a force for good and lift the load off the shoulders of a broken-hearted man. Mourning for a loved one who has passed away can blind an individual from the love that they still have. Some people say they die when their loved ones die. This art piece of a movie, at its core, is about reviving light and joy back to a heart of sorrow; therefore, I wish to see Pinocchio be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

(Courtesy of Netflix)

The fascist setting is a fascinating choice for this version of the story and how it thematically relates to the relationship between parents and their children. In reality, we “send our boys to war to die for the country,” as they repeat in the movie. Fascism is an authoritarian political ideology centralized by militarism and a dictatorial leader that suppresses the people from disagreeing with the government. Obedience is the key to evading dire consequences. Similarly, Pinnochio must also “follow orders and learn to obey,” as the abusive villain of the story commands him. He also needs to be obedient to his father, Gepetto and the laws of society, no matter how bad they are. Even the blue fairy tells Pinocchio not to “break the rules.” As a result, we see the consequences of decisions.

The movie makes the audience think about how far we will go to obey an order. Like Milgram’s obedience behavioural experiment, people will abide by an order given by an authority figure to harm someone, even if they feel it’s wrong. People do this because they want to appear cooperative or behave out of fear. The same can be said with how we act with our parents. We are disciplined and moulded by how they want us to be and how they want us to behave. Understanding the importance of obedience and disobedience is necessary because that’s when we’ll find our voice. That’s why sometimes it’s okay to lie out of altruism to protect other people or ease their pain. Without this kind of consciousness, we’ll never know right from wrong or when it’s vital to push back, whether through fascism or the expectations of our parents, as you can see from the father-son relationships in this movie. Individuals should be seen for who they are, not for who society wants them to be. Even through fear, Pinocchio maintains his courageous heart and spirit, which is why he was able to sing to Mussolini and tell him to “eat his poop.”

It is apparent early on in Pinocchio that it is quite the achievement with its layered story as it reinvents a classic; equally important, the stop-motion animation was mesmerizing and again proved that animation is an art form. All good things require patience, which is precisely what you need to make a great stop motion picture. It also served the narrative the best because what better way to show a one-minded dictatorship regime than with puppets? In a world where everybody is a puppet, Pinocchio still stands out as a unique soul with emotion that feels real.

(Courtesy of Netflix)

Pinocchio starts as blissfully oblivious, which makes him charming, but then he realizes his purpose. The religious people in his community view him as a demon made of witchcraft. Gepetto thinks of him as a burden. Pinocchio’s purpose is to fill the void in the hearts of others by doing good deeds because he is a walking miracle. He innately offers love and wonder because you get what you give in this life. What a world it could be if we all followed in his footsteps. Pinocchio has the magical ability to transform lives through the glory of cinema!

Life is such a wonderful gift. Life can bring great suffering. Life also brings great joy. Life is significant because of how brief it is, so Pinocchio encourages us to move on from our sorrows with the time we have left. It’s okay to move on. Learning to let go and move forward can give us the strength to lift any burden off our shoulders and prioritize the people we still have with us. To say it’s easy to do this would be a lie, but it’s easier when you allow others to help you along the way. If you accept others for who they are and the love right in front of you and within yourself, the days ahead will be full of light until they are gone.

What happens, happens and then we are gone. Try your best, and that’s the best anyone can do. Sometimes fathers feel despair and say things they think they mean at the moment, but in time they learn they never meant it at all, they may even call you a burden or a coward, but inside they love you.

Rating: 10/10

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio had a limited theatrical run before premiering on Netflix on December 9.

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