Guillermo del Toro presents his Netflix-produced “Pinocchio” in the Mussolini era

Guillermo del Toro presents his Netflix-produced “Pinocchio” in the Mussolini era

“What a day! What a day!” rejoices the new Pinocchio from Guillermo del Toro’s head in the almost eight minutes that can be seen exclusively on Wednesday at the international animation festival in Annecy (France). And so it must felt the chosen few after waiting in long lines for the main course of the most important animation competition in the world: the presentation of future animated Netflix releases and in particular the presence of Guillermo del Toro ( Jalisco, Mexico, 57 years old) as director of the recast of Pinocchio on stage As the author of films like The Shape of Water or Pan’s Labyrinth realised, the only reason he moved his “fat ass” from Canada to this French city was where he shot his latest stop-motion animated film has, who, to show fans these first work sequences “after 15 years of travel”. And the filled hall thanked him with standing ovations and the P public.

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“Each of you has a story to tell, you are a pioneer. Everyone has a goal. And Pinocchio is mine, one of the most important stories of my life that I want to turn around,” said the Mexican filmmaker.

Del Toro, on stage in AnnecyDel Toro, on stage at the AnnecyFestival of Annecy

The images showed the birth of a wooden child with a borrowed soul in a slightly more frightening way than Carlo Collodi’s story: the central figure appears as a morass of twigs with spidery movements. Its creator, Geppetto, has cat eyes instead of rosy cheeks like the Disney version from 1940. Del Toro warned him before he appeared on stage, stepping like a dinosaur on the paper airplanes that the audience at this competition is used to throwing Screen before the sessions begin: His is a whole different Pinocchio. “It’s a very personal film. There are two stories that have a great relationship with me and my father. Frankenstein and Pinocchio. And both speak of the importance of disobedience, how fragile life is, and how death makes us human,” he said of his new work. At Cannes he warned that, to give him some context, his plot was unfolding as Mussolini came to power.

An image of Pinocchio by Guillermo del Toro for Netflix.An image of Pinocchio by Guillermo del Toro for Netflix.

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A story that he himself associated with two of his first films, The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth, and that he shot in stop motion because it is a genre “always on the verge of extinction”. , although it is one of the earliest forms of cinema. “When I saw King Kong [la versión de 1933] I understood what it means to animate. Give some soul that doesn’t live,” he recalled. That’s what del Toro wanted his film to do: feed the flame, push animation out of its niche, and burn the “for kids” label. “Let’s see if this decade they finally realize that animation isn’t a frigging genre,” he yelled at an audience of converts who see the technique as a different way of filmmaking.

Del Toro's Geppetto.Del Toro’s Geppetto.

That was Netflix’s bet throughout its presentation. If the platform was conspicuous by its absence at the last Cannes festival, Netflix was king in Annecy. However, as expected, there was no space to talk about the criticism, layoffs, or canceled projects that have followed this platform in recent months following the post-pandemic drop in subscriber numbers. Among the projects that featured veteran Henry Selick’s Wendell & Wild, rapper Kid Cudi personally shared the opening minutes of his Entergalactic, “an analog love story set in a digital world.” In a style reminiscent of Spider-Man: A New Universe, Cudi summarized its plot as a racist love story “without drama, as romantic as Harry and Sally”. “Everyone has a purpose,” Del Toro said, extending his directing experience to anyone who loves the medium like himself. “Mine is to take the interpretation to the maximum. Animate unnecessary silences and gestures. Let the characters make mistakes. Give them an itch and a headache.”