Guillermo del Toro is a man of many ideas. Unfortunately, many of those ideas never become finished films, no matter how great they sound. The director has revealed more about his plan for a Pinocchio project and now we wish it was happening even more. Del Toro had been working on a stop-motion Pinocchio movie for the better part of a decade but could never find the financing required to make it happen. While the director says the project is now inactive, he has revealed what the setup and the themes of the film would have been. According to del Toro...
It's not happening. But the idea was to do Pinocchio during the ascension of fascism in Italy, with Mussolini. It was a good time to discuss the idea of being a puppet or being a human, but you know, it's not in progress.
When Guillermo del Toro is involved in a film you can expect some dark ideas to come forward and it turns out this was very much the case with his Pinocchio as well. Setting the movie during the rise of fascism in Italy, as the director tells IGN, would certainly have put a dark twist on the story, though the original book was a fairly dark tale to begin with, and even the Disney version of the story has some fairly chilling elements.
The reason for the setting is interesting, as it seems Pinocchio would have been on his quest to become a real person at the same time that real people were becoming puppets of a fascist regime. The original novel was published in the 1880s, long before 20th-century fascism was a thing, but the setting certainly lends itself well to the plot. It would have set the del Toro version apart from the others that have been produced over the years.
Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio is just one of many new versions of the story that have tried to get made in recent years. Robert Downey Jr. was attached to a version of the story that still seems to be sitting somewhere in development hell, assuming it's not completely dead itself. And then there's Disney of course, who has announced that Pinocchio is on their list of future live-action remakes of their animated features, though with Aladdin, Dumbo, Mulan and Winnie the Pooh (aka Christopher Robin) all in line ahead of it, it will be sometime before Disney's version ever begins moving forward.
It was only a couple months ago that Guillermo del Toro was talking about Pinocchio as if it could still happen, so when he says it's "not happening" he may just mean that's not currently scheduled. If he can ever find the money required, we might still see the movie at some point.