Production Art: Guillermo Del Toro Hopes to Traumatize Children With Stop-Motion ‘Pinocchio’

Deadline Celebration reports that a new 3D stop-motion animated Pinocchio, based on the images from a Gris Grimly illustrated version of Carlo Collodi’s classic fairy tale and co-directed by Grimly and The Fantastic Mr. Fox’s Mark Gustafson, is in the works. The script was written By Del Toro and his frequent collaborator Matthew Robbins (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark), and every pain seems to have been taken by everyone involved to come up with something that is going to scare the bejesus out of your kids.

When explaining why he wants to make little girls cry, Guillermo del Toro said, “There has to be darkness in any fairy tale or children’s narrative work, something the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson and Walt Disney understood. We tend to call something Disney-fied, but a lot of people forget how powerfully disturbing the best animated Disney movies are, including those kids being turned into donkeys in Pinocchio. What we’re trying to do is present a Pinocchio that is more faithful to the take that Collodi wrote. That is more surreal and slightly darker than what we’ve seen before.” Okay, so read that again. People tend to forget how “powerfully disturbing” the Disney version of Pinocchio is; yet he feels that they must make something even more dark and surreal. As somebody that was completely freaked out by the concepts of donkey children and starving in the belly of a whale when I was five or so, I say hell yeah. This generation of peanut allergies and everyone gets a gold star children could use a good kick in the pants.

Check out the production art for yourself:

But what exactly can be done to make this Pinocchio even freakier than the animated original? Del Toro explains, “ … The Blue Fairy is really a dead girl’s spirit. Pinocchio has strange moments of lucid dreaming bordering on hallucinations, with black rabbits. The sperm whale that swallows Pinocchio was actually a giant dogfish, which allows for more classical scale and design. The many mishaps Pinocchio goes through include several near-death close calls, a lot more harrowing moments.” Okay, yeah, that should do it. I can see a lot of neurosis stemming from children sitting through something like that. This sounds perfect for creating the next generation of teens that can’t climax without having a belt around their necks.

The movie won’t just be gratuitous darkness though. Del Toro explains why Pinocchio is the perfect character to explore such dark themes, “He’s one of the great characters, whose purity and innocence allows him to survive in this bleak landscape of robbers and thugs, emerging from the darkness with his soul intact.” Thematically, it sounds like this new film will be pretty deep. You better just hope that your little ones have the same purity and innocence necessary to get through watching it with their souls intact. But just in case, I’d bring a towel or something to the theater with you to soak up all of their tears.

Weaned on the genre films of the 80s. Reared by the independent movement of the 90s. Earned a BA for writing stuff in the 00s. Reviews current releases at

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