Directed by Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson, Netflix’s animated film ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ revolves around a wooden puppet named Pinocchio, made by Master Geppetto to deal with the death of his son Carlo. The musical film progresses through Pinocchio’s encounter with a puppet master named Count Volpe, who forces the wooden puppet to be his performer after making the former sign a contract. Based on Carlo Collodi’s novel ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio,’ the film has several significant differences from the source text of the same. If you are intrigued to find out what they are, you are at the right place! SPOILERS AHEAD.
How is Pinocchio Movie Different From the Book?
Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson’s ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ is a retelling of Carlo Collodi’s ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio’ rather than a rigid adaptation. Collodi’s novel started to get serialized in 1881. Guillermo and his co-screenwriter Patrick McHale placed the narrative of the novel into the early twentieth century for their film. Rather than depicting a nineteenth-century-set narrative, Guillermo’s film begins during the First World War and progresses through the 1930s, depicting the rise of fascism in Italy. Benito Mussolini, a real-life dictator and a character in Guillermo’s film, was not even born when the novel started to serialize.
Thus, the differences between the film and the novel begin with the purpose of both works. While Collodi’s work is a moral/fantasy tale, Guillermo’s work addresses the dictatorship and fascism that was prevalent in Italy in the 1930s. In the film, Geppetto makes the wooden puppet using the tree that grows near the grave of his son Carlo to replace the latter. However, in the source text, a carpenter named Master Antonio gives Geppetto a log after hearing cries from the same and the log becomes Pinocchio. Carlo dying in an explosion as part of the First World War was conceived by Guillermo and his writers.
In the film, the talking cricket Sebastian J. Cricket is a constant companion of Pinocchio, who lives a considerable time with the wooden puppet. In the book, Pinocchio accidentally kills the cricket not long after getting made by Geppetto. Count Volpe of the film can be seen as a combination of characters Mangiafuoco and the Fox. Although Volpe is the prominent reason behind the misfortunes that befall Pinocchio in the film, Mangiafuoco is only a secondary antagonist in the novel since The Fox and the Cat are the ones who try to rob the wooden boy in the novel.
One of the integral storylines of ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ revolves around a fascist government official who is known as Podestà trying to recruit Pinocchio to the Italian army to fight for the fascist cause. Like the character Mussolini, Podestà is the creation of the writers of the film and doesn’t feature in Collodi’s book. Although Pinocchio and Candlewick are friends in the movie as well as the novel, he is Podestà’s son in the movie, which is different from Candlewick’s characterization in the novel.
‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ mostly focuses on Pinocchio and Geppetto’s relationship. After making the wooden puppet, Geppetto tries to replace his dead son with Pinocchio and the latter tries his best to earn his own identity. Although the two of them fight, they eventually reconnect, which sets the stage for the film’s climax. But Pinocchio saving Geppetto from the Dogfish is only one of the many storylines that form Collodi’s novel. After the incident, Pinocchio joins a school and even excels as a student, which isn’t included in the film. Pinocchio’s bond with Candlewick happens in the school in the novel whereas the wooden puppet meets Candlewick as the son of the army officer in the film.
There are several characters in Collodi’s novel that don’t feature in the film. The Coachman, The Green Fisherman, and several animals become a part of Pinocchio’s adventures at some point in the novel. Guillermo’s film feature only two handfuls of major characters. Guillermo and his writers had also created characters specifically for their film, including Count Volpe’s monkey assistant Spazzatura, the Black Rabbits, etc. Furthermore, Collodi’s novel ends with Pinocchio transforming into a real human boy while in the film, he remains a wooden puppet.