- GUILLERMO del TORO’S PINNOCHIO
- Starring: Ewan McGregor, Gregory Mann
- Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
- Rated: PG
- Running time: 1 hr 57 mins
Nominated for an Oscar in the Best Animated Feature Film category, “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,” or just “GDT’s Pinocchio” from here on out for brevity’s sake, is a delightful, stop-motion animated take on the 1883 Italian novel “The Adventures of Pinocchio” by Carlo Collodi (1826-90). Packed with talented voiceover work, del Toro’s effort often pulls at the heartstrings. However, it is a much darker version than the 1940 Walt Disney film and should probably be viewed by slightly older children.
The story begins in Italy during World War I when talented yet humble carpenter Geppetto (David Bradley, best known as Argus Fitch in the “Harry Potter” series) loses his son and only child, Carlo during an aerial bombardment of his village by the Austro-Hungarian air force. Devastate, Geppetto plants a pine cone at Carlo’s grave and for the next 20 years as the tree grows he grieves continuously for him.
Enter Sebastian J. Cricket (Ewan McGregor) who establishes his new home inside the pine tree only to see it cut down by a drunk Geppetto. Filled with rage, Geppetto begins to carve a wooden puppet boy from the pine tree, but passes out before he is finished. While he is asleep, a wood sprite (Tilda Swinton) brings Pinocchio to life and grants Sebastian a wish so long as he acts as the wooden boy’s guide.
When Geppetto wakes up he is terrified at what he sees as Pinocchio exhibits an uncontrollable zest to ask questions, get into trouble and not do what he is told since he has no sense of right and wrong, despite Sebastian and Geppetto’ best efforts. What follows are a series of misadventures for Pinocchio that include becoming an enslaved circus attraction and later a trainee in Mussolini’s fascist army.
The director of such previous works as “Hellboy,” “Pacific Rim,” and “The Shape of Water,” del Toro once again delves into a world with fantastical beings and how humans interact with them. And once again his story, which is also part musical, is intriguing to watch as it unfolds. Filled with tragedies and triumphs as Pinocchio learns the hard way what it means to be human, del Toro’s effort is bolstered by wonderful voiceovers that include other notables as Cate Blanchett, Ron Perlman, John Turturro and Christoph Waltz.
Overall, “GDT’s Pinocchio” is an imaginative, darkly whimsical film that will set you on an emotional pendulum from start to finish.