Who is the Podesta? Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio character explained

In ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’, the Podesta is one of the antagonists. He is an authority figure who shows what it means to be a model citizen in a fascist regime. The film is now streaming on Netflix.

‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’, a reimagining of the original tale by Carlo Collodi, portrayed a fresh perspective of Pinocchio’s trials. Unlike the original, the horrors of this fantasy film are rooted in reality.

Pinocchio is not a real boy, he is a puppet, but he is still expected to attend school and learn to be obedient. While Pinocchio may not be real, the conformism forced upon children is very much real.

One of the figures in the film that intrigued the audience was the Podesta’s character. A government official in Italy was called Podesta; the name of the character was never revealed.

When Pinocchio comes back to life the second time, after getting freed from the clutches of Volpe, the Podesta takes him to fight in the war, extending his exile.

When every person is just a tool to be used

The Podesta does not like Pinocchio the first time he meets him. He disapproves of him when he sees him behave like a child. To him, Pinocchio does not seem to have any worth.

However, when Pinocchio dies and comes back to life, he suddenly sees him as a valuable possession. A child who cannot die can be used in war to achieve victory.

He sends Pinocchio along with the other children, including his own son, to be enlisted in an army unit. The children are tools to be used in war; their lives mean nothing if they don’t serve the country. 

The kind of father one should not be

The Podesta tells Geppetto that his son, Candlewick, is a model citizen. A good boy who follows his orders without questioning him.

However, he is less of a father than a military commander. He makes his son feel that his love needs to be earned, and the only way to do so is by liking war and fighting in it.

Candlewick is scared to show his fear, even as a child, because he believes that his father would not approve. He has been taught that only cowards do not like war.

The Podesta does not let Candlewick be a child even for a second; when Candlewick and Pinocchio both win, he orders his son to shoot Pinocchio because there can only be one winner and the reality of war is death.

When his son refuses to follow his orders, he calls him weak and a coward and throws him aside.

Podesta Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Candlewick is punished when he refuses to shoot Pinocchio

A Representation of the fascist regime

The film raised many questions, one of them being whether the figure of Podesta was real or not, considering the fact that the film depicted real historical figures like Benito Mussolini.

The Podesta is not based on just one figure, he represents all figures of authority in fascist countries. 

When he meets Pinocchio for the first time, he asks him who controls him. The Podesta does not think that people can have their own will, they have to be controlled.

He sees Pinocchio as an anomaly, not just because he is a puppet, but also because he talks back, he questions. Pinocchio must be sent to school to be taught not to do that.

What establishes the Podesta’s position as a representation of fascism is the Roman salute that he performs as a greeting. The salute was a part of the Italian Fascist movement and was also used within Germany’s Nazi Party. 

Podesta Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
The Roman salute, a symbol of fascism

The Podesta is the kind of father figure that never lets their child grow up as an individual. Through his character, the film shows the dangers of conformity and blind obedience.

Also Read: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio review: A heart-warming reimagining

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