Guillermo del Toro’s career has largely been a journey through the eerie and macabre by a man who thinks there’s more humanity to these monsters than we might think. His aims had never been quite as explicit as in The Shape of Water, in which romance blossoms between a human woman and a creepy merman, but he’s not exactly treading unexplored ground. Pinnocchio, for example, is an old tale about the humanity of inhuman things. Maybe that’s why del Toro is making a movie out of it for Netflix.
It certainly sounds like yet another passion project from a filmmaker who never made a movie he didn’t deeply believe in. “No single character in history has had as deep of a personal connection to me as Pinocchio,” he said in a statement. “In our story, Pinocchio is an innocent soul with an uncaring father who gets lost in a world he cannot comprehend. He embarks on an extraordinary journey that leaves him with a deep understanding of his father and the real world. I’ve wanted to make this movie for as long as I can remember.”
This movie will pit the story of the puppet who wanted to become a real boy against the backdrop of Mussolini’s Italy in the 1930s. A thread of creeping fascism, while common in del Toro’s filmography, doesn’t exactly sound like children’s fare, but this is a filmmaker who’s always loved to offset sweetness with spookiness and vice versa. Exactly how family friendly this movie will be is a question mark, but Guillermo del Toro has always been a kid at heart and now, he’s a kid at heart with an Academy Award for Best Picture on the shelf, so expect Netflix to let him do pretty much whatever he wants. He’s got no strings to hold him down.