How is Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio different from the classic tale?

‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ revolves around the story of a father who is still recovering from the loss of his son. He gets the gift of another child, but the child is unlike any other. The film is now streaming on Netflix.

Master Geppetto, a wood carver, lives with his son, Carlo, in a small town in Italy. The two lead a happy life, but Geppetto loses Carlo in a blast during the Great War.

Geppetto is not himself after Carlo’s death. One night, he carves a wooden figure and wishes for his son to come back to life. His wish is fulfilled by a spirit who puts life into the figure and names it Pinocchio.

Pinocchio is very different from Carlo. Geppetto, annoyed by his rebellions, calls him a burden, which causes Pinocchio to run away from home.

To find his son, Geppetto goes on a journey with Sebastian, a cricket who was supposed to guide Pinocchio to be good.

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Meanwhile, Pinocchio is forced to work for a cunning showman named Volpe and then enlisted in a fascist military camp. Finally, he gets swallowed by a giant sea creature, where he reunites with Geppetto.

The original tale of Pinocchio

Carlo Collodi’s classic novel ‘The Adventure of Pinocchio’ is based on the story of a living marionette who wants to be a real boy.

Geppetto, a poor man, plans to be a puppeteer. He uses an enchanted wood to carve a puppet. Geppetto names it Pinocchio.

Pinocchio is an undisciplined puppet; he kills a talking cricket, abuses Geppetto, and gets him arrested. He does not even attend school.

He is constantly led astray by two evil characters, the Cat and the Fox, who end up hanging him. For a while, he lives with another character, the Fairy, and is even turned into a donkey.

He meets Geppetto again when he is swallowed by the Terrible Dogfish. After escaping from its belly, Pinocchio becomes a responsible farmer and a good son.

When his actions prove that he is no longer selfish and careless, he is turned into a real boy and rewarded with 40 gold coins by the Fairy.

How are the two stories similar?

‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ is a reimagining of the story of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. Pinocchio is created by Geppetto in both stories. 

Collodi’s story is a morality tale, aimed at teaching children to be more obedient and responsible. ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ initially follows the same path. 

Geppetto favors perfection, and he teaches Carlo to strive for it by asking him to find an unmarred pine cone. 

The Podesta asks Geppetto to send Pinocchio to school because the boy needs to learn to be obedient. His own son, Candlewick, has been taught to follow his commands to the letter.

Pinocchio disappoints his father when he cannot act as obedient as Carlo. Similarly, Candlewick disappoints his father when he refuses to blindly follow his orders and shoot his friend.

Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio
A disappointed Geppetto wants Pinocchio to be more like Carlo

Pinocchio and Geppetto’s reunion is similar in the two tales; they meet inside a giant sea creature’s belly and escape together. Pinocchio then spends his life taking care of his father.

There are other similarities in the stories, including Pinocchio burning his legs and Geppetto replacing them; Pinocchio being lured away from school; Pinocchio befriending Candlewick; Pinocchio being tricked by cunning characters.

How are the two stories different?

The difference between the two stories lies in their morals. The original teaches children to be brave, selfless, and hardworking, while the animated film teaches them to be good by bringing joy and light to other people’s lives.

The film’s reality is bleak, as Pinocchio and Candlewick are enrolled in the army unit where children need to fight for their ruler, whereas in the original, the two go to Toyland, where no one ever works.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio depicts how children are scared to be opinionated in a fascist country where everyone is expected to conform and never question.

The most striking difference between the two stories lies in the fact that one ends up changing Pinocchio, while the other accepts Pinocchio without expecting him to change.

In the original tale, Pinocchio, after being repeatedly punished for his disobedience, becomes a model child eventually. 

However, in ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’, it is Geppetto who changes; he eventually wants Pinocchio to be himself and not like Carlo.

Similarly, when Candlewick disobeys his father, he is made to look brave to the audience. The film discourages blind obedience. 

The final meaning of being a good boy in the film is simple — try your best and that is the best anyone can do.

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