Pinocchio – a fantastical and magical return to Collodi’s classic

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Pinocchio is released in cinemas nationwide on the 14th of August.

In 1883 Italian writer Carlo Collodi published The Adventures of Pinocchio, the story of a magical wooden puppet desperate to become a real boy. In Collodi’s fantasy world, the rural poverty of Tuscany and the emerging industrialisation of Italy would take centre stage in a story rooted in social change. Since its first publication, Pinocchio has become an icon of children’s literature; however, the journey to the screen has been challenging, with many adaptations falling on the sprint to become the one true vision of Collodi’s work.

For many, Pinocchio remains attached to Disney’s 1940 film. However, Disney removed the darker themes of survival, morality, and belonging housed in Collodi’s tale. Therefore, while Pinocchio will forever be linked to the house of the mouse, its soul is far from the enchanted kingdom. Of course, many have attempted to create a more accurate adaptation of the book over the years since the Disney release; however, few have found an authentic voice, with the possible exception of Le Avventure Di Pinocchio (1972).


In recent years, a new race has begun to rectify this, from Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming animated version of Pinocchio for Netflix to Disney’s live-action remake. However, the first film out of the gate is Matteo Garrone’s brave, bold, beautiful film. Here, Collodi’s story finds a new voice through sumptuous gothic fantasy that never shies away from the darkness of Collodi’s work. Garrone’s film is bathed in Italian beauty as it fills each frame with a pantheon of fantastical creatures that emanate light and dark, with the practical effects echoing many of the most-beloved fantasy adventures, from The NeverEnding Story to Time Bandits and Labyrinth.

Nicolai Bruel’s cinematography drenches proceedings in Italian warmth, from the luscious olive groves to the crumbling farmhouses and crystal blue seas of the Mediterranean. At the same time, Dario Marianelli’s delicate score matches the film’s beauty and engaging performances. However, Pinnochio steals the show as young Federico Ielapi jumps from the screen and into our hearts.


However, at over two hours, Pinocchio may be slightly too long for many of the kids it aims to attract, and while the voice dubbing is considered and careful, it can occasionally feel detached from the characters. Skirting the boundaries between fantasy, horror and folklore with love and respect for the source material, Pinocchio isn’t afraid to scare, charm and engage young minds. Here, Garrone goes to great pains to ensure the kids watching are treated with respect and never talked down to, so get ready to be whisked away to a fantasy world of fairies and talking crickets. But remember, this is a world of secrets, lies, love and betrayal that reminds us to cherish those we hold dear.

Director: Matteo Garrone

Cast: Federico IelapiRoberto BenigniRocco Papaleo, Massimo Ceccherini, Marine Vacth

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