“The Adventures of Pinocchio”
Pinocchio has been a story told for over one hundred and thirty years. The first rendition of it came to us through the Italian novelist Carlo Collodi. “The Adventures of Pinocchio” came out in 1883 and in 1940 Disney made it their second animated feature film. Even before Disney’s film, there were attempts at a silent version (1911), and an unfinished animated Italian version (1936). The book found tons of success and showed the story had the morals and values that we wanted to instill in our children.
Since then it is hard to put the exact number of renditions or offshoots to the story. There have been hundreds of versions of this story. Opera, theater, films, television, adaptations, and more. The original story shows how important life is and that when given the opportunity to really live, you should.
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Guillermo has made a new version using stop-motion animation and, of course, his undeniable style. Ever since I was young, I have been drawn to the craft of stop motion. It is a delicate process that involves tons of patience in getting to what you see on the screen. Let’s break this down just a little, in order to give you an idea of the process.
There are two ways to shoot stop motion to make fluid movements look natural. You can choose to shoot in ones or twos. Shooting in “1’s” means that you shoot one picture for every frame. In film, most things are shot at twenty-four frames (pictures) per second (FPS). This means that for every second, you shoot twenty-four pictures. This gives a superfluid movement to characters and is sometimes not the best for properly styled “film” acting. Shooting in “2’s” means you take twelve pictures and double each one up to create the movement. This means less picture-taking but adds a more realistic movement of the puppets to the human eye.
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Hard Found Funding
Guillermo said he was trying to get funding for over fourteen years for the film. Stop motion is not the most popular approach to film, and the art form seems to be getting lost in the modern era. The only way to keep making stop motion is to champion it when it comes out, after all the artistic craftsmanship is extremely high. Each frame is literally brought to life by an animator and a picture. Each move is delicately balanced to ensure the figure moves well when putting it all together. The time it takes to make one scene is expounded by the process itself. At one point Guillermo even said they had over sixty small scenes filming in one day with different animators.
I can tell why funding was given to this story. Guillermo and co-director Mark Gustafson had a grand idea for such a miniature world. Guillermo brought in his own flare and style, which changes the overall feel and message of the story.
We start with Geppeto (David Bradley) and his son Carlo. They built their relationship beautifully, by showing just how important they are to each other. Eventually, Carlo meets death through the war that Joseph Stalin helped create in the 1930s. Geppeto is overwhelmingly struck with grief.
We then meet Sebastion J. Cricket (Ewan McGregor,) he establishes his home in an old pine tree. After being unable to cope with his loss, Geppeto decides to make a new son out of the same pine tree. In a drunken stupor, he creates Pinocchio (Gregory Mann). In some cultures, the forest has life and many mysterious things exist in it. It is no different here, as Guillermo creates some creatures that hear Geppeto and help bring Pinocchio to life.
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At first, Geppeto is unsure what Pinocchio is. When Pinocchio first comes to life, he is so excited about all the things he sees. Just like an adolescent child, he acts and reacts to the world around him with fresh eyes. This throws Geppeto through a loop, because he sees the world under different circumstances. Geppeto eventually turns this around, but it takes all the lives Pinocchio can muster.
Everyone wants to take advantage of Pinocchio except for his papa Geppeto. He ends up meeting Count Volpe (Christoph Waltz) and gets coerced into performing in order to send money to his father. Then the war machine tries to use him and it causes another important turning point, but Pinnochio remains steadfast. Pinocchio’s spirit is wonderful, reminding me of the many ways I was when I was young.
Master of Macabre
As the story goes on, we see just how much the master of macabre has altered the story to his own style. The very end gives purpose to life through death. When we are alive, we must live fully, and we shouldn’t let the grief of life distract us from how precious our time here is. When one thing ends, another begins or so the saying goes.
The comedic relief that Sebastian provides is perfect in the context of the film. At every turn, he recognizes just how dark the story is, which provides a blanket for the arc of the newly envisioned idea. This children’s story may have been made again, but it has been done with an originality that Guillermo always brings to his work.
In the industry, there is something called a fingerprint. Just like a fingerprint at a police station, they represent the exact identity of a particular artist or filmmaker. Guillermo’s fingerprint is all over this project, and after just a few frames you can not only tell it is him, but you can tell all the hard work it took to create this masterful work. Stop motion must always get proper recognition because it is a tireless process that is always exciting to watch.
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The details of the sets, puppets, props, and movements are unprecedented. They even bring us to the time period with miniature backdrops; using the likes of Stalin and his authoritarian regime in the 1930’s. Guillermo’s Italian roots make me understand his love for the story. He was able to show Italy through these tiny sets in a way only an Italian could.
I have seen a ton of stop motion in my day, even helping to create a Simpson version myself. We have all seen entertaining stop motion with the likes of ‘Wallace and Gromit’, ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’, and ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’. If you haven’t, start now, and Pinocchio is a great example of the best of them. Guillermo‘s style of stop motion is one of the most well-thought-out and designed I have ever seen.
Guillermo has re-envisioned one of the most-told stories and has done it superbly. It is released in theaters now and will be streaming on December 9th on Netflix. This is something to go check out on the big screen. I know you might think you have seen all the Pinocchio you need for a lifetime but trust me when I say you have not. Guillermo has molded a classic story into life once again. He has made a real boy out of Pinocchio, and that is a hard feat in the oversaturated world he has lived in.
Directors – Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson
Mentioned Cast – Ewan McGregor, Christoph Waltz, David Bradley, Gregory Mann
By Nathan Paul Pasquale
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