In October it was announced that Academy Award winner Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water, Pan’s Labyrinth) was finally going to make his take on Pinocchio at Netflix.
But if you were expecting something similar to Disney’s 1940 animated classic, then you haven’t been paying close enough attention to del Toro’s work. His fairy tales tend to exist in much darker worlds. And that will be no different here, as del Toro says his version is not suitable for the whole family. For a lighter take, you’ll have to look to the live-action remake Disney is currently developing.
Del Toro talked about the project recently, including whether it’s a political film, comparisons to Frankenstein’s monster, and his decade-long quest to get the film made. You can see what he had to say below.
Speaking at the Marrakech Film Festival, del Toro was asked if his take on the fairy tale, which is set in 1930s Italy, was political:
“Of course. Pinocchio during the rise of Mussolini, do the math. A puppet during the rise of fascism, yes, it is.
There’s no fable without politics. Rarely can you get in productive discussions in real life right now, it’s so tense. It’s much easier for you to listen to me if I tell you ‘Once upon a time…”
He used the gender and class struggles of fairy tales like Cinderella and Snow White as examples of this.
Comparing Pinocchio to Frankenstein’s monster, del Toro said:
“He’s a creature that is created through unnatural means from a father that he then distances [himself] from, and has to learn about failure and pain and loneliness.”
For those who haven’t been following the director’s career for a long time, he’s been trying to convince a studio to let him make his version of Pinocchio for about a decade now. He briefly talked about this quest:
“I went to every studio in Hollywood and they all said no, so whoever says yes, I will make it with that person.”
So it’s no great shock at all that it was Reed Hastings and Netflix who finally gave him the opportunity to bring the boy puppet to life. The streaming giant has a reputation for making the movies Hollywood studios aren’t willing to make. And sometimes they acquire some of the completed movies studios did make but weren’t confident enough to release.
Unrelated to Pinocchio, if you’re someone who’s wanted to see the Hellboy and Blade II director take on a big Marvel or DC superhero movie, del Toro is still open to that possibility. But only if it involves flawed characters:
“I’m not interested in superheroes that aren’t monsters. I’m not interested in anyone who looks good.”
One such movie fans would love to see del Toro take on is Justice League Dark. But unfortunately he was already attached to that for a while, and ultimately walked away from the project. WB letting that one slip away is another depressing thing we all have to live with every day.