The eerily lovely world of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
We hear from the director and the film’s head puppet maker, Georgina Hayns, about the painstaking process of bringing one of the world’s most famous stories to life in stop motion
Since Pinocchio was first published in 1883, there have been too many adaptions of Carlo Collodi’s classic fairy tale to count. Perhaps the most famous is Walt Disney’s 1940 animated film, which brought the story of the wooden boy to the big screen and firmly into popular culture. Earlier this year, Disney released a live action remake of the film starring Tom Hanks as grieving woodcarver Geppetto, but it is a stop motion adaption of the story from Guillermo del Toro that has been causing a stir ahead of its release.
The Oscar-winning director behind The Shape of Water and Pan’s Labyrinth has been waiting pretty much his entire career to put his own stamp on Pinocchio, which he became fixated with after watching the Disney version as a child. Given his penchant for horror films, it’s not surprising that del Toro’s take on the story is decidedly dark. Set in 1920s Italy amid the rise of fascism, the adaption is co-directed by stop motion veteran Mark Gustafson and features an all-star voice cast including Ewan McGregor as Cricket, David Bradley as Geppetto, and newcomer Gregory Mann as Pinocchio.
Del Toro’s Pinocchio has been a long time coming. He first announced his intention to make the film 15 years ago but struggled to attract financing, until Netflix finally picked it up in 2018. “The journey took a long, long time, mainly because the things we wanted to try were different,” he explains. “We didn’t want to make a sleek, accessible, shopping mall friendly experience in animation. We wanted to push something that felt handmade, painstakingly made by humans, returning the controls of the animation to the animators.”