Guillermo del Toro presents his 'Pinocchio' in times of Mussolini, produced by Netflix

“What a day! What a day!”, the new gloats happily Pinocchio out of the mind of Guillermo del Toro in the scarce eight minutes shown exclusively on Wednesday at the international animation festival in Annecy (France). And this is how those chosen for glory must have felt after waiting in long queues to gain access to the main course of the main animation competition in the world: the presentation of future animated Netflix releases and, specifically, the presence of Guillermo del Toro (Jalisco, Mexico, 57 years old) on stage as director of the new version of Pinocchio. As recognized by the author of films such as the shape of water either The Pan’s Labyrinththe only reason why he moved his “fat ass” to this French town from Canada, where he has shot his latest animated film with the technique stop motion, was to show the fans those first work sequences “after 15 years of travel”. And the room, filled to the brim, thanked him with a standing ovation and the audience.

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

Del Toro, on stage in Annecy
Del Toro, on stage in AnnecyFestival of Annecy

The images showed the birth of a wooden child with a borrowed soul in a somewhat more terrifying way than that of Carlo Collodi’s story: the central character appears as a morass of branches with spider movements. Its creator, Geppetto, has hangover eyes instead of rosy cheeks like those of the 1940 Disney version. Del Toro already warned him from his entrance on stage, stepping like a dinosaur on the paper planes that the audience of this contest is accustomed to to throw at the screen before the sessions begin: his is a Pinocchio very different. “It is a very personal film. There are two stories that have a great relationship with me and with my father. Frankenstein Y Pinocchio. And both speak of the importance of disobedience, how fragile life is and how death makes us human, ”he detailed about his new work. In Cannes he already warned that his plot unfolds, to give it a context, during Mussolini’s rise 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 has connected with two of his first films, The Devil’s backbone Y The Pan’s Labyrinthand you decided to roll on stop motion because it is a genre “perpetually on the verge of extinction” despite being one of the most primitive forms of cinema. “When I saw King Kong [la versión de 1933] I understood what it means to animate. Giving a soul to something that is not alive,” he recalled. That is what Del Toro wanted to do with his film: feed the flame that wants to take animation out of its niche and burn the “for children” label. “Let’s see if they finally realize in this decade that animation is not a fucking genre,” he yelled at an audience of converts who see in this technique another way of making movies.

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

That was Netflix’s bet throughout its presentation. If at the last Cannes festival the platform was conspicuous by its absence, in Annecy Netflix was the king. Although, as expected, there was no place to talk about the criticism, layoffs or canceled projects that have followed this platform in recent months after the post-pandemic drop in the number of subscribers. Among the projects —where there was room for, among others, Wendell & Wild, veteran’s Henry Selick—, the rapper Kid Cudi showed in person the first minutes of his entergalactic, “an analog love story in a digital world”. In a style that reminded her of the Spider-Man: a new universe Cudi summed up its plot as a racial love story “without drama, as romantic as it gets.” When Harry met Sally. “Everyone has a goal,” Del Toro said, extending his experience as a director to all those who, like him, love the medium. “Mine is to take the interpretation to the maximum. Animate unnecessary silences and gestures. Let the characters make mistakes. Give them itches and headaches.”

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