Since 2008, director and visionary Guillermo del Toro has been keeping his dream of a stop-motion animated Pinocchio film alive. Initially announced in the same year that Barack Obama first became President, this Pinocchio film has often been mired in development hell, with the Spanish fantasist butting heads with those who attempted to constrain his vision. But now, we finally have a first glimpse at the project he’s been working on for so long, now funded by the seemingly limitless coffers of Netflix. It will be both del Toro’s first time working directly with Netflix, as well as the first animated feature film of his career, and you can see the short first teaser below. The announcement comes only a few weeks after his most recent feature, Nightmare Alley, hit theaters.
Looking into the announced synopsis, this Pinocchio suddenly starts to sound very much like a Guillermo del Toro film indeed. As they put it:
A dark, twisted retelling of the famous Carlo Collodi fairytale about a wooden puppet who comes to life and dreams of becoming a real boy takes place in 1930s Fascist Italy. When Pinocchio comes to life, he turns out not to be a nice boy, causing mischief and playing mean tricks. “A story of love and disobedience as Pinocchio struggles to live up to his father’s expectations.”
A fantasy, set against a potentially violent fascist backdrop? It’s impossible not to think of the likes of Pan’s Labyrinth or The Devil’s Backbone with that description, although this time around the action is set in Italy rather than Spain. That’s only fitting, considering that the original source material is Italian Carlo Collodi’s 1883 novel The Adventures of Pinocchio, with del Toro drawing his visual design from the 2002 edition by Gris Grimly.
Also impressive, perhaps unsurprisingly, is the vocal lineup for Pinocchio, which includes the likes of Tilda Swinton, Ron Perlman, Christoph Waltz, Cate Blanchett, David Bradley, Tim Blake Nelson, Finn Wolfhard, John Turturro and Ewan McGregory as “Sebastian J. Cricket,” as seen in the teaser below. Pinocchio, meanwhile, is played by newcomer Gregory Mann. Check out the first trailer below for the film, which is promised for December of 2022.