2022 has been a strange time for Pinocchio adaptations. We've already had that weird one starring Pauly Shore one that had some of the strangest voice-acting ever and the 2022 live-action version that Disney put out. But now, we’re going to talk about my favorite adaptation of Pinocchio not only this year, but of all time – and that, my friends, is Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio.
There are so many reasons why this movie is a thousand times better than any other Pinoccho adaptation, and I’m going to get into them here. While I already love Guillermo del Toro and his movies, and consider him a master of fantasy and horror, this movie was one of the best of his that I have seen – and I genuinely believe you should check it out, too. Here are some thoughts that popped up in my head as I watched this amazing movie.
And obviously, avoid this if you're looking to go into Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio spoiler-free!
Gepetto Losing His Son In A Bomb Raid Was Something I Was Not Expecting
This movie starts off dark. Very, very dark.
The 2022 live-action version of Pinocchio is a bit darker than the original Disney animated feature film, but hands down, nothing is darker than Guillermo del Toro’s version of the story. We start off with the world at war, and Geppetto, who is a single-father, losing his son in a church, of all things, in a bomb raid – where the bombs weren’t even meant to be dropped on that town. It was just an accident.
Right away, we are thrown into this idea of grief, and learning to come to terms with loss, and it’s heartbreaking. It’s that and so much more, and that’s how you know what kind of movie you’re getting into – when your hands are in your hair in disbelief at the very beginning of the film and you’re already getting teary-eyed. Seeing Geppetto lose himself after his son's death was so sad – but makes the ending all that much more meaningful.
Ewan McGregor Is Fantastic As Sebastian J. Cricket
This is just a side-note, but man, I loved Ewan McGregor as Sebastian J. Cricket. The entire cast of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is amazing, but he was honestly one of the stand-outs. It’s funny, because I feel as if this version of Pinocchio’s “good side” didn’t do much in the movie, but yet, I’m going to remember him the most because he was so funny.
His character is like this starving artist who wants to publish his books for the world, but over time, we see a change in him where he starts to care for Pinocchio and actually wants to lead him to do good things and bring him back to life at the end. And his hilarious moments, like when he was about to burst into song and Pinocchio slams a door on his face, were great tension breakers from some of the more serious story moments, and that’s thanks to McGregor's fantastic delivery.
The Fact That This Story Focuses On Living Up To Parents’ Expectations Is Heartbreaking
I mean, this movie felt too real, at least for me. I know that not everyone goes through this, but there are many kids out there that constantly have to live up to the expectations set by parents, expecting them to be something that they aren’t. And Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio tells that story, with Geppetto trying his hardest to turn Pinocchio into another version of Carlo, his late son, but in the end, he’s unsuccessful. After so many attempts, Geppetto grows frustrated with Pinocchio and calls him a burden.
It’s because of this that Pinocchio sets out on his journey in the first place, to prove to his father that he wouldn’t be a burden anymore. None of this “I want to be a real-boy” stuff that the original Pinocchio does – in fact, that’s barely even mentioned in this film. It’s all about Pinocchio trying to prove himself to his father, by basically selling himself for money, and then joining the literal Italian army during World War 2 in order to make his father proud.
It’s a very mature topic – and one that I was not expecting from this film, and I love it all the same. It almost feels more like a coming of age movie than a children’s film.
But It Also Coincides With Parents Learning To Love Children For Who They Are
However, even if a good portion of the movie is about Pinocchio trying to prove himself to his father, it also coincides with Geppetto’s journey in learning to love Pinocchio for who he is. It’s a long journey, but in the end, he doesn’t care that he’s not Carlo. All he wants is Pinocchio back when he literally turns into a mortal being for a moment just so he can save his papa as he’s drowning while trying to escape that giant sea monster.
As he begs the Wood Sprite to save Pinocchio, to save his son, you see how much he loves Pinocchio. He knows that he’s not Carlo and that he’ll never be Carlo, but he’s completely okay with that. He just wants who he sees as his son back, and that’s a beautiful story.
I Can’t Get Over How Beautiful The Stop-Motion Animation Is
For those who don’t know, I’m a huge fan of stop-motion animation. Coraline was my introduction into that world, and I've only continued to enjoy it as I’ve gotten older. 2022’s Wendell & Wild was a great addition, but Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio knocked it out of the park. Like, wow.
I didn’t think stop-motion animation could get any more beautiful, but this movie did that and more. From the water scenes where Pinocchio was trying to get out alive from the sea monster to watching his nose grow, to seeing the puppetry and interesting characters, everything looked so breathtakingly amazing and I loved every single second of it. It was done to perfection.
Death (Both Figuratively And Literally) Is Scary And Beautiful
In Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, there is literally a character named Death, who is the sister of the Wood Sprite, and lowkey, she is beautiful and terrifying at the same time. It doesn’t have a face that moves, and yet, it’s so majestic in the way it speaks, talks, and lectures the lead character on the ways of life that I can’t look away. I’m mesmerized.
At the same time, however, it’s also the themes of death in this movie that are scary and beautiful, and had me rethinking about my whole life. About how our mortal lives are so minuscule and brief in the grand scheme of time, so that means we should use it to the best of our ability and hold our loved ones close, because we never quite know when it’ll be the last time we see them. That’s a deep message to portray in this film, and while the idea of death is scary, it’s also beautiful.
The afterlife in this is also sort of scary, as well. I’ve always had this overwhelming fear of the end of my life, and what the afterlife could look like, and in this, at first, it does look scary, but in the end, it almost seems peaceful, to be in this world with your loved ones again (as we see with Sebastian in the end), and to leave the mortal world behind. It’s done so well.
This Was The Saddest And Yet Most Perfect Ending I Could Have Imagined
I mean, wow. I’m pretty sure I cried more in the last fifteen minutes of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio than I have at any movie this year. It’s so sad. So freaking sad. Pinocchio, as Death told him, outlived everyone. Geppetto, Spazzatura, and even Sebastian, all of them gone. No matter what, death does happen to our loved ones.
However, I think what I find beautiful in this sad ending is that Pinocchio, afterwards, accepts this, and moves on to find a whole new adventure. Sebastian states that he believes Pinocchio eventually did pass on, but we don’t know for sure. However, what makes it perfect is that Pinocchio became what he was intended to be – a life source of joy to those he knew, and then when they died, he went out to find something new. That’s beautiful. It’s sad that his family is gone, but amazing that he went out to make someone else’s life happier.
That is what makes this ending so tragically beautiful, and it’s something that had me pondering about what I’m doing in my life and how I can continue to make people happy as I grow older.
Who knew that an adaptation about the story of a wooden puppet was going to make me cry so much? But, here we are. For those who have seen Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, you understand what I’m saying. And, for those who haven't seen the film yet, please, go and check out the movie on Netflix. You won’t regret a single thing when you do.
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A self-proclaimed nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire, Alexandra Ramos is a Content Producer at CinemaBlend. She first started off working in December 2020 as a Freelance Writer after graduating from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Journalism and a minor in English. She primarily works in features for movies, TV, and sometimes video games. (Please don't debate her on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!) She is also the main person who runs both our daily newsletter, The CinemaBlend Daily, and our ReelBlend newsletter.