Death And Immortality In ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,’ Explained: Will Pinocchio Eventually Die?


Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio could be called the most philosophical, dark, and thoughtful adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s work. From metaphorically commenting on the concept of fascism to visiting the macabre alleys of life after Death, the film gives us a lot to chew on. But the most amazing thing about Pinocchio is that, amidst all these social, political, and philosophical viewpoints, it keeps its innocence intact at all times. The notion that all mortal beings have to die one day is quite humbling in itself. All your arrogance, pomposity, and inflated sense of ego get reduced to dust when you realize that one day, you will have to leave all this behind. In the film we saw that Pinocchio was hit by a car when Geppetto came to take him back from Count Volpe’s puppet show. Geppetto thought that just because the wooden boy had the soul of a real human, he would also die like one.

The agents of Death, i.e., the rabbits, were surprised to see that Pinocchio was still pretty much alive, and they asked him to go to the processing zone, where he was supposed to meet the spirit or goddess of Death. The deity told him that he was the result of her sister’s sentimentality, and she strongly disapproved of her actions. The deity said that Pinocchio didn’t have the right to be alive, and by doing so, her sister had overturned the natural order of things. He became very happy when he came to know that he was immortal. But the deity told him that being immortal also meant he could never be a real boy like Carlo. She told him that everything in life was temporary, and that is what made it so precious. She told Pinocchio that though he would be alive, he would have to live with the grief of losing everybody who was once a part of his life. There were some non-negotiable rules that had to be followed in Death’s realm, and the one breaking them had to face severe consequences. The spirit told Pinocchio that he could only go back when the sand in the hourglass ran out, and that time period would keep on increasing every time he came back. A young Pinocchio didn’t understand what the deity was trying to say. He went back to the earthly realm, and he just couldn’t understand how being immortal could prove to be a curse in the long run. 

When Pinocchio came back to life, Geppetto was overjoyed, and Podesta knew that he had found his perfect soldier who was incapable of dying. Pinocchio once again faced Death when he publicly tarnished the reputation of the dictator Benito Mussolini. II Duce had to come to see Count Volpe’s puppet show as he had heard a lot about it. Count Volpe knew that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and he wanted to take complete advantage of it. He had made Pinocchio toil hard day and night so that he could put up a flawless performance on the final day. But his plans backfired when Pinocchio decided to insult the dictator, who ordered his guards to kill the wooden boy instantly. Pinocchio died, and once again, he reached the realm of Death. Pinocchio had become a usual visitor there, and he felt like he was the luckiest boy alive. It boosted his ego whenever he thought about what all he had gone through in his life, and it was no less than a miracle that he was alive. Death, like a silent guardian, stood there and saw how the naive boy misconstrued the concept of immortality. According to Death, immortality was a burden, and she said that eternal life could only bring eternal suffering. But Pinocchio was still basking in the glory that, unlike other men, he could not die. He felt secure by thinking that no matter what happened to him, he would always get an opportunity to go back to his papa. Death disclosed to him a brutal truth for which maybe the innocent boy wasn’t ready. She told him that, unlike him, his father and friends were not immortal, and what he thought of as a boon today might get transformed into an affliction in the days to come. Pinocchio wanted to know more, and he felt lost, just like Gautam Buddha would have after witnessing the four sights that changed his entire perception and belief system. Pinocchio had realized that he would have to let go of what he couldn’t change. 

Towards the end of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, we saw Geppetto, and Sebastian J. Cricket were already stuck inside the sea monster’s belly when Pinocchio and Spazzatura reached there after being gulped down by the terrifying creature. Pinocchio had almost saved his father when he died, once again. He reached the realm of Death, but this time he was in a hurry to go back. He asked Death to send him back immediately, but she told him there were rules that could not be broken. She informed him that if he went back immediately, he would also become a mortal, just like others, and if he died after that, he wouldn’t be resurrected. Pinocchio decided that his immortal life was worth nothing if he couldn’t save his own beloved papa. He decided to break the hourglass and go back to the earthly realm to save his father. Pinocchio died, saving his father and his friends. Death’s sister once again appeared and told Geppetto and others that Pinocchio wouldn’t come back to life as he had given up his boon of immortality. Sebastian J. Cricket used his wish, which was given to him by the spirit, to bring Pinocchio back to life. 

Pinocchio found solace in the fact that he couldn’t die but eventually he realized that everything that ends is also the beginning of something new. The pinecone symbolized a similar notion, one which many of us find very hard to swallow. It told us that what’s born will die and that nobody could escape the cycle of life and death. Carlo had gone inside the church to collect his pinecone when out of nowhere a bomb fell there and he died. Pinocchio was made from the wood of the Pine tree that stood near the grave of Carlo. In the end we see the pinecone falling from the tree, maybe symbolizing that even Pinocchio wouldn’t be able to escape death for long. Pinocchio lived a fulfilling life, and he saw the impact that human beings could have on one another, even in their brief lifespans. He became wise with time, and he slowly realized why Death considered immortality to be synonymous with eternal suffering. Geppetto, Sebastian J. Cricket, and Spazzatura became old and died one by one, leaving Pinocchio alone in the world. Though Pinocchio didn’t age, we believe that he would eventually die, which would fulfill his desire to be a real boy like Carlo.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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