“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,” which del Toro has co-directed with Mark Gustafson, takes place in 1930s fascist Italy and follows the woodcarver Geppetto and his son Carlo (a reference to the author of “The Adventures of Pinocchio,” Carlo Collodi). Tragedy strikes them when a plane flying over their town unloads a bomb and kills Carlo. This sends Geppetto into a downward spiral and prompts him to make a wooden puppet out of the trunk of the pine tree that was growing near Carlo’s grave. When Geppetto passes out, the Wood Sprite appears and breathes life into Pinocchio. After finding that Sebastian J. Cricket, the traveling Cricket, has made his home in Pinocchio’s chest piece, the Sprite tells him that if he looks after the kid and helps him be “a real boy,” she’ll grant him one wish. Cricket accepts the offer, and as the sun rises, Pinocchio’s journey of self-discovery begins.
Major Spoilers Ahead
Using Count Volpe To Show How Entertainment Can Be Used For Propaganda
In the original and most of the interpretations of Pinocchio, the puppet show, or marionette theater, has been used to comment on how easily one can be lured by the medium of entertainment but be exploited by the business model that governs it. Count Volpe, who is a combination of Mangiafuoco and the Fox from the original story, does represent the dark side of showbiz when he starts using Pinocchio to revive his carnival. When Pinocchio understands that Geppetto is struggling to make ends meet, he uses his unique abilities as an entertainer to earn a lot of money and naively hopes that it’s going to reach Geppetto. Instead of doing that, Volpe continues to use Pinocchio for his personal and professional gains and then makes him the face of fascist propaganda. Pinocchio’s sweet lyrics are exchanged for hyper-nationalistic ones. It’s only when he realizes that Geppetto isn’t getting any money and Volpe is abusive towards his colleague, Spazzatura, that he protests by making a mockery of Mussolini on the stage. As a result, Pinocchio gets shot and sent to purgatory, thereby putting an end to Volpe’s nonsense.
Like every other dictator, propaganda was pretty instrumental to the rise and rise of Mussolini. Everything, from Mussolini’s cult status to economic reforms, military action, wars, patriotism, etc., was glorified. And movies were used to spread said glorification far and wide because, as per the Istituto Luce, the cinematography was their strongest weapon. This was aided by the fact that illiteracy was at its peak during that time, thereby allowing the general populace to consume fiction disguised as the truth. Mussolini even founded Cinecittà in 1937 to counter the rise of Hollywood. Some of the films that were made during his time were “The Cavalier from Kruja,” “The Great Appeal,” “Sentinels of Bronze,” “The Siege of the Alcazar,” and “Bengasi.” The rest were probably censored to kingdom come or were not allowed to be made in the first place because fascism doesn’t want art to thrive. It only wants art to be an arm of dictatorship. Pinocchio’s brief stint as an entertainer pretty much encompasses that aspect, and his temporary death shows that even the slightest hint of ridicule or criticism isn’t allowed when one’s job is to make propaganda art only.
Highlighting How Children Can Become The Footsoldiers Of Fascism
After getting killed by Mussolini’s right-hand man, Pinocchio finds himself being taken to the fascist training camp by Podestà, along with Candlewick and a bunch of other kids. There he’s told that while others can lay down their lives only once for their fatherland, Pinocchio can do so multiple times, thereby making him the “perfect soldier.” Since Pinocchio doesn’t have any understanding of what he’s witnessing, he thinks that “The Elite Military Project for Special Patriotic Youth” is like summer camp. He knows that Geppetto thinks that war is bad, but he doesn’t understand the gravity of that statement as he tries to one-up Candlewick in a war of words and on the makeshift battlefield. They even decide on a tie during a paint-gun game of “Capture the Flag.” However, when Podestà pulls out a real gun to emphasize the importance of winners and losers, both Pinocchio and Candlewick realize how binary fascism is. Sadly, by then, it’s too late, as the Allied planes bomb the hell out of the training facility without discriminating between adult and minor fascists. Pinocchio survives, but the same can’t be said for the rest of them.
Fascist youth wings like Avanguardia Giovanile Fascista and Gruppi Universitari Fascisti were a thing back in 1919 and 1922, respectively. Mussolini believed in the notion that fascist education, which had the ability to “create” a complete and harmoniously developed individual, needed to be taught in a way that seemed appealing. The Opera Nazionale Balilla was led by Renato Ricci, where children from the ages of 8 and 18 were indoctrinated. The so-called cultural institution began functioning as a paramilitary group and equipped its students with the kind of arms and uniforms that we see in “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio.” But, like everything that was born out of fascism, all that amounted to nothing. The children who probably graduated from these organizations or mindlessly followed Mussolini’s nonsense because it seemed hip and cool all ended up dead. The survivors probably suffered from all kinds of mental health and identity issues. And if that is not one of the best reasons to nip any form of fascism in the bud, then I don’t know what is. No one deserves to be born into fascism. Even if they do, their minds shouldn’t be infected with fascism. That’s the bottom line, and that’s what “Pinocchio” shows in the bluntest way possible.
‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ Ending Explained: How Does Cricket Save Pinocchio After He Exhausts His Resurrection Powers?
During the concluding moments of the film, Pinocchio and Spazzatura find Geppetto and Cricket in the belly of the terrible Dogfish. Cricket devises an escape plan that involves Pinocchio using his extending nose to reach the Dogfish’s blowhole, force it to sneeze, and then get out of there. But while trying to escape its wrath, Pinocchio, Spazzatura, Geppetto, and Cricket run into a sea mine that explodes on them. Pinocchio dies and goes to purgatory. He knows that his waiting time is going to be long because every time he dies and goes to purgatory, the time he needs to spend there to preserve his immortality increases exponentially. However, that means he won’t get back in time to save the drowning Geppetto. Death tells him that if Pinocchio attempts to go back soon, he’ll be able to save Geppetto, but he’ll become mortal. Pinocchio breaks the rules, saves his father, and dies in the process. The Wood Sprite appears and sees how she has forced Geppetto to experience the loss of a child twice in a single lifetime. So, in order to rectify this situation, Cricket uses his one wish to make Sprite bring Pinocchio to life.
Now, in every iteration of the story, this is where things end. But del Toro, Gustafson, and writers Patrick McHale and Matthew Robbins stretch things out a little to give their movie a bittersweet conclusion. Instead of turning into a “real boy,” Pinocchio watches Geppetto, Spazzatura, and Cricket live full lives, grow old, and die. According to Cricket, he then ventured out into the world. He isn’t sure if Pinocchio actually died like every other mortal creature on this planet. But Cricket thinks he did, and that’s what makes Pinocchio a real boy. In closing, Cricket says that whatever happens, happens, and then we are gone. Yes, despite being a departure from the source material or its multiple adaptations, it’s still in keeping with the theme of cherishing the finiteness of mortality. Pinocchio’s extensive journey covers every choice that can be presented in front of a kid and shows which ones they should choose in order to live a full life. Cricket and Pinocchio’s sacrifices show the importance of being unselfish, something that’s very rare nowadays. Spazzatura’s eventual rebellion against Volpe highlights how it’s never fruitful to serve an abusive boss. Geppetto getting to accept Pinocchio as he is instead of trying to make him “perfect” is incredibly educational. And in addition to all that, the film takes an anti-fascist stance, which is something that no iteration of Pinocchio has done. Does that make it the best Pinocchio adaptation? In my opinion, yes, it does.
“Pinocchio” is a 2022 Animated Adventure film directed by Guillermo del Toro.