Guillermo Del Toro’s retelling of Disney’s Pinocchio had an interesting release as it competed directly with Disney’s own remake of their classic film. Of course, that wouldn’t have happened if Disney hadn’t rushed their release in order to drop it before the Netflix version. But this is not a comparison between the two! I haven’t seen the Disney remake, I just want to discuss del Toro’s Pinocchio because this film takes you on a ride.
This isn’t a live-action remake– it’s still animated but it’s a 3D version of the 2D classic. It loses a bit of whimsy by taking a much darker turn than the original but makes up for it through the heart and care weaved into every frame. The film does a good job showing everything that the characters go through so there isn’t much need for exposition. We see the tragedy that Geppetto went through with his first son and why he is the way that he is. His character development is very heart-wrenching to watch and is mirrored in the innocence that’s exuded through Pinocchio’s every move as he learns more about the world. Both Geppetto and Pinocchio learn a lot from each other, with Pinocchio’s experiences of the world starting from scratch and Geppetto’s from too much.
The world-building incorporates creatures like woodland spirits, as well as biblical mythology and an afterlife. The blue fairy character from the original is reimagined through more traditional angel imagery in this version. This also ties into a running theme of mortality throughout the movie. The only reason Pinocchio even exists is that Geppetto lost his son and wanted him back. We’re shown through every important moment in the movie how fickle life is and how much it must be cherished through loved ones. The story itself has a lot of twists and turns, many of which draw from the original but still keep you very engaged. The build-up of the characters’ arcs and their journeys with each other tie together in a way that’s a bit convoluted but also incorporates the fantastical world-building with the more grounded story at the center. Everything culminates in the end very beautifully and tells a compelling story of loss, grief, and the grace of humanity that can always be found.