Most of us read the story about the cultural icon Pinocchio who first emerged in 1883 as a wooden character created by Carlo Collodi. In the story, his creator Geppetto was an old man who lived in a Tuscan village suffering from the death of his only son. As he mourned his loss, he made a puppet out of a nearby pine tree. In that tree, there lives a cricket who becomes a friend and guardian of the puppet. 

Geppetto names the puppet Pinocchio and teaches him to act like his lost son. Still, Pinocchio can make his own decisions and wants to learn life through his own experiences. The puppet is then given life through a higher power that wants to see Geppetto happy. 

As news of a living puppet spreads, some of the locals want to capitalize on it, and they try to manipulate Pinocchio into bad situations, separating him from Geppetto. Eventually, he is persuaded to leave home for a spot in the traveling carnival in hopes of becoming a star which unfortunately does not turn out well. Although Pinocchio is a puppet, he still has a strong heart. He has to make bold decisions to survive many obstacles and hopefully reunite with Geppetto.

The movie is directed by Guillermo del Toro, who also directed Hellboy, The Shape of Water, and Pans Labyrinth. His interpretation was darker than most reimagined stories of Pinocchio. How he told his version would leave one wondering if it was for children or adults. He directed his first movie over 30 years ago in Mexico. It was a stop-motion animated sci-fi titled “Omnivore.” His talent for creating magical stop-motion films showed in this one which is also entirely stop-motion animated. The film makes such a connection with the audience that it becomes hard to remember that you are watching animated characters, not real ones.

The animation supervisor was Brian Leif Hansen, who grew up on a dairy farm in Jutland, Denmark. He has been animating for over 20 years after taking a chance and applying to the Animation Workshop in Viborg, Denmark. To complete this film, he and his team needed to create 60 different stages, all with different cameras and sets. 

Stop-motion is very time-consuming, and without the different sets, the crew could only film about two seconds per day. Also, the characters were made with 3D printers after being designed on computers. Some scenes took weeks and even years to complete, and they were all done with a budget of $35 million. 

The voice of Pinocchio was played by Gregory Mann. He has not provided his age publicly but has stated that the voice acting was sometimes difficult because, as a preteen, his voice would begin to crack. Ewan McGregor, the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi, starred as the voice for Cricket. Also, David Bradly, who played Argus Filch in the Harry Potter films, did an amazing job as the voice for Gepetto. 

I have seen the Pinocchio story plenty of times, but this was the first I actually enjoyed it as an adult. The film had many lessons that only a mature mind could understand. Even in the music, there were lessons. I was surprised that many of the lyrics were written by the direction del Toro himself. One song in the film that I really enjoyed was called Ciao Papa, and in the lyrics, Pinocchio sings, “Eyes in the rain, I try to hide. Tears of a boy who shouldn’t cry.” Along with the music, the visuals were captivating and kept me very entertained. I would probably say that this was my favorite Pinocchio film. 

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