In Guillermo del Toro’s darker, weirder ‘Pinocchio,’ it’s Geppetto learning the lessons of an idealized childhood that doesn’t exist. By the time he gets around to it, he’s grown to adulthood, and, like Pinocchio, he’s been given a second chance at life, though not a happy one. But the film explores another theme central to the book, one that lies at the heart of the book, and one that del Toro has made an effort to honor: the importance of innocence.
The book is more than two decades old—one of the reasons del Toro was drawn to it—but the film, directed by del Toro’s frequent collaborator, Jonathan Liebesman, is being released only a week before Halloween. It seems only a matter of time before some kid gets hold of the story, retelling it as a kind of fable cautionary tale. In the case of ‘Pinocchio,’ it would be an apt choice. A series of adaptations—from the children’s section of a bookstore to a stage production to an animated series to a live-action feature, to a movie that has made it to the big screen—have failed to capture its spirit, and it has lost some of the magic that made it a cult favorite in the first place.
That’s the big theme. But in the meantime, del Toro has gone out of his way to honor Geppetto’s innocence in the film version. But more than that, he has done it in such a way that, ultimately, the film presents him in a way that is more sympathetic than Pinocchio ever was, and allows us, finally, the chance to live with him as an adult. Geppetto is not an evil prince; his parents are human, and they are imperfect, and Geppetto is meant to be an innocent. That’s important, and he’s not a prince in a fairy tale exactly. In fact, he is a perfect being, except for one thing: He is a child. That’s what makes him human. And it’s why he’s so much more valuable than