Don't expect Guillermo del Toro's stop-motion Pinocchio movie for Netflix to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside just because it's animated. According to the Oscar-winning filmmaker, the film won't be a "fun-for-all-ages" experience.
“It's not a Pinocchio for all the family,” del Toro told The Hollywood Reporter, adding that it will play as an allegory about totalitarianism in 1930s-era Italy, similar to how he used Franco's Spain in Pan's Labyrinth. "Pinocchio during the rise of Mussolini, do the math. A puppet during the rise of fascism, yes, it is."
The director is well known for using history as a backdrop for his dark fairy tales. Not only do historical events offer a juxtaposition between our harsh reality and the fantastical elements dreamt up by del Toro's imagination, but they also serve as a way to teach us relevant lessons about the world.
Despite being set in the '60s, The Shape of Water was a fable about the dangers of mankind's many phobias and its persecution of those it considers to be "Other." Heavy themes and teaching moments go down much easier when presented in a pleasant and eye-popping wrapper. For del Toro, however, the two things are not mutually exclusive.
"There's no fable without politics,” he continued. “Rarely can you get in productive discussions in real life right now, it's so tense. “It's much easier for you to listen to me if I tell you 'Once upon a time ...'"
Netflix's Pinocchio will also take cues from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, exploring the relationship between a mortal father and his supernatural son. This is something that del Toro scratched the surface of in both of his live-action Hellboy movies.
"He's a creature that is created through unnatural means from a father that he then distances [himself] from, and has to learn about failure and pain and loneliness," finished the filmmaker.
Animated by the Jim Henson Company (The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance), ShadowMachine (BoJack Horseman), and Mackinnon and Saunders (Corpse Bride), the stop-motion/musical is expected to kick off production soon and will drop on Netflix in 2021. Patrick McHale (Over the Garden Wall) wrote the script with del Toro, while Mark Gustafson (Fantastic Mr. Fox) takes up the post of co-director.