Guillermo del Toros Pinocchio Review: The Fantasy Master’s Distinctive Stop-Motion Version Takes the Ancient Story and Carves Its Own Way – Yahoo Entertainment | Dauktion

The possessive claim in the title “Guillermo del Toros Pinocchio” is bold. There’s confidence—some would even say arrogance—in filming a well-told story at least as old as the hills and suddenly branding it as your own: even two writers as brave as Francis Ford Coppola and Baz Luhrmann have not beaten names in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” or “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet”. Still, Carlo Collodi’s maroon 19th-century The Adventures of Pinocchio can hardly be faulted for del Toro’s stop-motion twist, because he wanted to advertise his distinctive vision at the top: After countless tales of the wooden boy tale and on the heels of Robert Zemeckis’ miserable Disney remake must announce Netflix’s rival adaptation as something else. That’s it; it is often delightful too.

There is, of course, a reason why Collodi’s story is constantly being reworked: it is a magnificent and unusual, morally supporting Tuscan folk tale which, with insane surrealism and perverse humour, breaks with the tradition of its form. So insane, in fact, and so perverted that it has seldom been adapted very faithfully, with Disney’s gentler 1940 interpretation — most notable for giving the original story’s ruthless, selfish titular character a much more sympathetic makeover — becoming canon in many children’s imaginations .

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Del Toro, who co-directs with stop-motion veteran Mark Gustafson (“Meet the Raisins!”, “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” who credits this with his first feature film as a director), isn’t much more interested in strict fidelity than he is Walt Disney. His Pinocchio updates the setting of Mussolini’s wartime Italy, remixing a number of Collodis hijinks with some bold ideas of his own – not least a fresh, more progressive take on what the story’s driving goal of a ‘real boy’ transformation might entail . (Hint: With everything we teach our kids these days, it’s more about what’s inside than outside.) In spirit, though, this remarkably weird, scary animation feels more in tune with Collodi’s imagination than most previous iterations. As you’d expect from the man behind Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Spine, there’s a dark, violent sense of consequence here, a healthy sense of the grotesque that defines its happy ending – yes, that’s still in View , but not exactly what you would expect – feel hard earned.

The film’s stranger, thornier vision begins with the image of Pinocchio himself, here distant from Disney’s cutely dressed blistered boy. Borrowing from American artist Gris Grimly’s illustrations (with a co-producer credit) for a 2002 edition of Collodi’s book, del Toro and Gustafson literally redesign him as a stick figure, gnarled and scrawny and held together with gnarled nails and a nose , which does not grow as a neat staff but in antler-like branches covered in leaves. If he looks rustic and unfinished, that’s because he is: by his human woodcarver “father” Geppetto (beautifully voiced by David Bradley) in a drunken fit of grief for his late, angelic son Carlo (Gregory Mann, the brave fulfills the double duty as Pinocchio too).

This tearful new backstory outlined at the beginning of the film also allows del Toro an early introduction to two of the film’s other fixations: morbid Christian symbolism and the horrors of war. “Everyone likes him, why don’t I?” asks the naïve, mischievous Pinocchio, pointing to the huge wooden crucifix that Geppetto is repairing for the village church – one damaged in the same World War I bombing that killed Carlo. Two decades later, in an Italy under the fascist thumb of Il Duce, the peasant is shunned by the community as a demonic outsider; However, the village’s authoritarian podestà (Ron Perlman) believes the “dissident” puppet could prove her worth in the military by serving alongside his terrorized son, Candlewick (Finn Wolfhard).

The conservative macho conceptual leap from “real boy” to “real man” is one of the smartest layers in del Toro and “Adventure Time” writer Patrick McHale’s busy script, though there’s little time to dwell on such nuances and subtexts as the story to ponder, true to its episodic source, down barrels. After all, the Podestà is not the only one after Pinocchio, because the traveling circus master Count Volpe (a hissing Christoph Waltz) sees a whole lot of lira in the eerily living doll. Meanwhile, our hero’s repeated scratches land him time and time again in an underworld of purgatory, where a cuddly electro-blue incarnation of Death – sister to his life-giving Guardian Spirit – continues to determine his fate; Tilda Swinton eerily pronounces both entities, as if you were choosing someone else to do it.

Attempting to keep our hopeless hero on track amidst all these obstacles, and rarely succeeding, is a dapper Sebastian J. Cricket, given a slightly sardonic narrator’s air by Ewan McGregor, who frequently rehashes these potentially chilling operations – though his cool metallic looks, complete with white, pupil-less eyes, are the stuff of nightmares. Indeed, the animation commendably defies snuggliness at every turn, reveling in the macabre visual textures of a whale’s quivering internal organs or the austere, towering lines of 1930s fascist architecture. A sophisticated color palette of reds, browns and sunset ochers is spearheaded by the ponderous constitution of Pinocchio himself, as well as the flames that are his greatest enemy in several set pieces.

Aesthetically and narratively, then, this is a “Pinocchio” that attributes exceedingly adult tastes and intelligence to its young audience – so much so that it occasionally veers into more animated, old-school musical territory (with a handful of instantly memorable songs punctuating Alexandre Desplat’s otherwise lush, puckily orchestrated score) seem rather half-hearted.

Rarely does Guillermo del Toros Pinocchio feel so compromised. This is rare children’s entertainment, unfolding over a slightly indulgent but never boring two hours, unafraid to mystify children as much as it enchants, to the point of a coda that encourages a degree of existential contemplation in children elicits (not to mention a sad tear or two) at the thought of a dead insect in a matchbox coffin in a boy’s wooden — but very real — heart. It’s a vivid, lavish dash of madness, better seen than described. “Pinocchio” has always been.

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