You wouldn't know it by looking at the man's filmography, but Stanley Kubrick always did have a thing for fairy tales. This obsession seemed to have particularly shown itself in the back half of his life, when Kubrick was trying to persuade Steven Spielberg to direct A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. And, as we've now learned, Kubrick had another project of a very similar ilk in the works: he was developing a remake of Pinocchio.
The world learned of this fact through an interview between The Guardian and Emilio D'Alessandro – the man who served as Stanley Kubrick's personal assistant for over three decades. Stressing that this variant of Pinocchio was completely independent of his A.I.: Artificial Intelligence variant of the story, D'Alessandro filled the world in on what could have been with the following information:
Stanley was interested in making Pinocchio. He sent me to buy Italian books about [him]. He wanted to make it in his own way because so many Pinocchios have been made. He wanted to do something really big … He said: ‘It would very nice if I could make children laugh and feel happy by making this Pinocchio.’
Let's take a moment and appreciate that sentiment, shall we? The man who scared and shocked the world with such films as Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb, A Clockwork Orange, and The Shining wanted to make kids feel whimsy. This not only sounds exactly like something Stanley Kubrick would have wanted to do, it sounds like something he could have really been good at. After all, Pinocchio has always had a sort of theatrical, nearly operatic feel to its story, and Kubrick has always infused his films with a tinge of such elements. So while it may sound weird at first, a Stanley Kubrick directed Pinocchio could have been pretty amazing when you really think about it.
Unfortunately, the world would never get to see Pinocchio or even the World War II film Kubrick was planning to make about the protracted siege of Monte Cassino, as these projects were being planned shortly before his untimely death of a heart attack in 1999. In fact, Stanley Kubrick just barely finished working on his last film on this Earth, the erotic thriller Eyes Wide Shut, as he passed six days after he'd shown his cut to executives on the project, as well as Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. He was 71, and yet it still felt like we lost him way too early in life.
Directors like Stanley Kubrick are hard to find in the film industry, and really, they always have been. With his theatrical style, and his larger than life portrayal of the world we inhabited, his Pinocchio could have been a perfect labor of love for his grandchildren, as well as another cinematic gift bestowed upon the world at large. At least we can comfort ourselves with the fact that while we'll never get Kubrick's Pinocchio, we'll always have an already stellar line of work to remember him by.