This is what a good remake looks like
When the eponymous wooden puppet comes to life in this remake, he makes his entry a little differently. Geppetto first sees a hand spring out from behind a box. It’s followed by another hand and two legs, which then drag the rest of the body up. Pinocchio’s limbs keep folding at the joints and his head swivels a full 360 degrees as he wishes Geppetto a good morning.
It wouldn’t be entirely amiss to compare this to The Ring’s ghost emerging from a TV on all fours. Even with Pinocchio’s cheery voice and disposition, it’s unsettling. An apt descriptor for Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio.
By taking the original tale and setting it during Mussolini’s reign, the creators allowed this story to explore the harsher realities of the world. Geppetto loses his first son Carlo to a bomb during The Great War. Years later when Pinocchio comes around, the town Podestà plays an important role. This time, the puppet master is a fallen aristocrat while pleasure island is exchanged for a stint in a training camp for young soldiers.
With plenty of originality infused into the well-known tale, this version of Pinocchio confronts the trickiness of relationships and the challenges of being an outcast in a biased society. Where most adaptations turn Pinocchio into a role model for children’s behaviour, this one uses him to dismantle the society of the adults around him. In Del Toro and Mark Gustafson’s Pinocchio, disobedience can be a virtue.
It’s not all grim and dour though. Pinocchio’s mischievousness and innocence leads to antics that make you laugh and poignant moments that make you ruefully smile. These sweet, heartfelt scenes offer a perfect balance to the story’s darker themes. And what’s more, Pinocchio’s path doesn’t simply push him towards becoming a real boy, it leads him to find himself — his own true spirit.
This stirring storytelling meets its ideal medium in the intricately-detailed stop motion animation. Every character feels unnervingly real and Pinocchio himself is an enchanting figure of wood. The giant dogfish is appropriately gruesome while, in contrast, all the scenes in and around the ocean are simply mesmerising.
The star-studded cast does a wonderful job, aided by crisp and meaningful dialogues. If there’s one drawback, it’s the songs. They flow well with the rest of the film but just aren’t particularly memorable. Overall, the movie is a perfect mix of eeriness and warmth.
The recent churning out of remakes and reboots is usually attributed to nostalgia, but the creators of Pinocchio show us just how much potential truly lies in such movies. Even with two other Pinocchio remakes out in 2022, Del Toro and Gustafson’s version remains the most memorable of the year.
And that’s because the film took a nuanced stance while talking about finding one’s identity, about flawed fathers, about grief, loss, war, control, mortality and the importance of loved ones. In short? It’s relevant to us and our times.
Read More: Pinocchio Ending Explained
Verdict - 8.5/10