PINOCCHIO (2019) – My rating: 9/10

Pinocchio is an Italian fantasy film, co-written, directed, and co-produced by Matteo Garrone. The film is also based on the 1883 book, The Adventures of Pinocchio, by Italian author Carlo Collodi. Pinocchio was a passion project for Garrone, who drew his first storyboard of the story at the age of six. Unlike previous Garrone films, which were directed towards adults, Pinocchio is aimed at both adults and children and was worth every effort to see this classic movie.

After seeing a puppet theater run by Mangiafuoco (Gigi Proietti), Geppetto (Roberto Benigni), a poor Italian carpenter decides to build a wooden puppet to tour the country, which would earn him a proper living.   He visits his friend and colleague Mastro Ciliegia (Paolo Graziosi) to ask him for a piece of wood he can use to make his dream come true. Earlier that day, Ciliegia became frightened when he discovered a log that began to move on its own. The incident caused Ciliega to practically beg Geppetto to take the log as a gift. With great appreciation, Geppetto takes the gift and begins to build his puppet, which he decides to name ‘Pinocchio’ (Federico Ielapi). Long before completion, Geppetto realizes that Pinocchio is alive and sentient, and decides to take him as his son. After completing the puppet, Geppetto tries to teach Pinocchio how to walk, telling him to be careful not to fall before getting the hang of it. Suddenly, Pinocchio starts running, leaving Geppetto to comb the town looking for him. While on his journey, Pinocchio encounters a hundred-year-old Talking Cricket (Davide Marotta), who tries to help him by giving advice, but Pinocchio, considering the cricket to be an annoyance, throws a hammer at him.

Later, Geppetto returns home to find Pinocchio there with his feet burned off and his legs still aglow. Pinocchio explains that he fell asleep with his feet too close to the fireplace. After having to rebuild them, he forgives Pinocchio for his actions. In order to educate him, Geppetto sells his jacket to Cecconi (Sergio Forconi), a seller and buyer of goods, in order to buy Pinocchio a Spelling book and insists that he attend school. Struck by this sacrifice, Pinocchio sets off, accompanied by Geppetto, for his first day of school. However, his good intentions are diverted by the puppet theater, for which he later sells the book to buy a ticket and the adventure begins. Geppetto vows to find Pinocchio, even if he has to search to the ends of the earth.

Pinocchio meets some interesting characters, some good but mostly bad.  He discovers that he has a Blue Fairy (Marine Vacth), who gets him out of all sorts of trouble, as she is the key to his survival and future.  Pinocchio finds himself getting further and further away from home, with each new character he meets. He is robbed, beaten, hung from a tree, tried by gorilla judge, drowned, turned into a goat, sold to a circus, and swallowed by a sea monster, to name a few of Pinocchio’s encounters.  At one point, Pinocchio is asked why he was in the forest and not at home or in school. Embarrassed, he lies but his nose becomes bigger and longer with each lie he tells. Out of all the children’s tales I’ve seen during the pandemic, I found Pinocchio to be the most adventurous and the best story told.  I absolutely loved this version of Pinocchio and highly recommend it. The Cinematography is outstanding as well as the makeup. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 84% based on 56 reviews, with an average rating of 7/10. The site’s critic’s consensus reads: “Sticking closely to Carlo Collodi’s original story, Matteo Garrone’s Pinocchio pulls every string to create a visually stunning film that proves that some tales really are timeless.” Although this version of Pinocchio has been dubbed into English, I haven’t been able to find it, so I watched this version with English subtitles. Pinocchio is streaming on Prime Video — Check It Out!

[PINOCCHIO is Oscar-nominated at the 93rd Academy Awards for Best: Costume Design, and Makeup & Hairstyling — Totaling 2 Nominations]


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