Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio
Onto the next release of the weekend but before that I do have a couple of leftovers that I will get to pretty soon. With that I finished watching the new animation film Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio which is streaming on Netflix. I must admit that the Sunday today did not feel lile Sunday. I woke up grumpy and was far from my elements today. Perhaps, it was the daily pressure of reviewing stuff that did get to me or whether it was pondering about life in general, it was a difficult Sunday in ages for me. I guess I am allowed that leeway once in a while too and so to lighten up my mood, I decided to discard my overnight watch of Faadu(which I will resume soon), and instead opted for the animation film Pinocchio.
The story of Pinocchio instantly has a recollection factor that does bring with it a sense of nostalgia. It was a perfect fairytale for me while I was growing up that did teach me a set of virtues that I often have stuck to even today. For those who aren’t familiar, Pinocchio is a character made of pine wood wherein his nose would grow every time he would lie. It was a nice little lesson to be taught through children through the course of a magical story that would potentially have a profound impact on young minds. Over the years, Pinocchio has got several adaptations on the silver screen as well with the most recent being Guillermo del Toro’s version of the magical fairytale. The man is a visionary with works like The Shape Of Water and Nightmare Alley behind him and I was most interested in his animation outing this year. That said does Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio manage to put a smile on my face, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is a modern adaptation of a famous character with an interesting take. The story completely dismantles the setting of the drama which is set against the backdrop of World War 1. So I was intrigued right from the beginning. The screenplay standing at a shade under 2 hours makes for a watch that is filled with laughter, enjoyment and a lot of tears.
The drama opens on the most emotional note and given my state of vulnerability today, it made me shed a tear within the first 5 minutes. We are introduced to the protagonist who has lost his young 10 year old son in the first World War. In a brief flashback, we get a glimpse of their beautiful bond between them that is eventually short lived. Soon in a magical turn of events featuring a few new characters, he carves a wooden boy who does come to life and identifies himself as Pinocchio. There are several life lessons thrown in its narrative, one of them being that life is magical and miracles do take place when you least expect them.
The drama is engaging and engrossing but at no point does it let go the emotional thread of the drama. It plays out like an undercurrent right throughout the film. Usually animation dramas are catered to children and rightly so. But this drama would cater to both children and adults and I say that because the drama is relevant in so many ways in today’s times. It briefly does touch upon the politics doing the rounds during World War 1 yet also does give you an apt message on how unity and love can overcome any obstacle. To give you a perspective, in a beautiful scene Pinocchio and Candlewick are able to hoist their flags together on a pole despite being on opposite sides. The philosophy of the drama about life and loss is so beautiful that it gently tugs the strings of your heart.
Separation and the emotions surrounding it are so powerful and brilliantly shown in the film. The characters often refer to this emotion as a ‘burden’, the burden of continuing to live on with the baggage despite it being heavy and painful. Any person who has experienced loss of their beloved ones in their lives will be able to connect to the drama well. I for one always do miss my grandma and that pain refuses to subside even on my happier days. And so every time, there is an event that unfolds onscreen, I end up getting emotional. And here it was no different. On two separate occasions, I got teary eyed, one at the beginning and the other at the end. But these were individually beautifully heartfelt moments that transpired into magic in their own bittersweet manner.
The final act is an emotional jerker but not before several heartwarming moments that kind of act as a reminder to enjoy every moment of your life. The concepts of the fairy godmother or the world mother are beautifully integrated in this phenomenal screenplay. The philosophical end was a beautiful way of ending the drama that stated, ‘What Happens, Happens….And Then, We Are Gone’. A poignant line that sums up the entire life of ours! In other words, this is a drama that made me laugh and cry while instantly cheering me up from my grumpy mood! A masterclass in screenplay writing!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are poignant filled with life lessons and philosophy, something that I could listen to all day. It is supremely impactful and wonderfully penned. This drama is a musical and the music needed to be good here. But the music did take the drama up by a couple of notches by breathing in the right kind of emotions that felt like a warm embrace. A few songs will make you reminisce your times with your loved ones who were lost along the way, a similar emotion that I had felt in the animation film Coco. It is simply wonderful to say the least. The BGM too blends just so well with the drama.
The cinematography is beautiful and I would be lying if I were to tell you that this isn’t a visual spectacle. The colour grading, the lighting and the animation are absolutely top notch and something that I really wish to have witnessed on the big screen. Directors Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson have done a phenomenal job in keeping the character of Pinocchio intact with his character traits yet putting him in a more hostile environment. It was nostalgic in many ways yet the freshness of the setup really made the drama an absolute winner. The direction was brilliant in every sense of the word.
The voiceovers are spectacular here. Finn Wolfhard as the voice of Candlewick is excellent as is Cate Blanchett as the voice of Spazzatura. David Bradley as the voice of Geppetto has a sense of remorse and pain to it that makes the animated character more human and relatable. Ewan Mcgregor as the Cricket has a lovely baritone and adds to the fun element of the character. Gregory Mann as the voice of Pinocchio is exuberant yet has that streak of innocence to it. All other character voiceovers are brilliant.
Guillermo der Toro’s Pinocchio is the best film of 2022, a masterpiece(and I don’t use that word often) that will make you laugh and cry yet ponder over the philosophies of life and death. Available on Netflix and Highly Highly Highly Recommended!