Rome – Carlo Collodi’s “Pinocchio” is one of the world’s most loved children’s books, translated into more than 280 languages and dialects, and the subject of countless films and television series.
When Italian director Matteo Garon decided to put his spin on “Pinocchio”, which opens in theaters in the US on Christmas day, he took an unusual path: allegiance to the original “The Adventures of Pinocchio”, the first one Published in book form. 1883.
The result is many times more realistic, sometimes deeper about the story. Gone are the cute kitties, goldfish and cuckoo clocks that bring the 1940s version of Disney to life. There are no catchy songs to become classics.
Instead, Geron dips his “Pinocchio” into the landscape, and the poverty of Tuscany in the mid-19th century, with so much precision that when the film engulfs the imagination – and it often does – it feels strange.
Eventually, Collodie, whose real name was Carlo Lorenzini, wrote the book to be a cautionary tale. Initially, it was broadcast in a children’s magazine and Collodi abruptly ended Puppet’s adventures after Chapter 15, leaving Pinocchio hanging – and very dead – from a tree. After objections by readers, the editor of Collodie convinced the story to be prolonged, with its many twists and turns, to a cosmic happy ending.
For American audiences, the arrival of Gaires as a freak may come as a surprise. The director is perhaps best known for his unintentional 2008 film “Gomrah”, which explores planned crime and A Times critic described Being “a snapshot of hell”.
In fact, Garron had already stepped into the realm of fairy tales in 2015.Story of stories, “A mash-up of folk tales collected by 17th-century destiny writer Gwambista Besil, which in turn influenced the Brothers Grimm. Garron has attributed his interest to his background as a painter.
But “Pinocchio” is something else. The story of the puppet that longs to be a real boy, sometimes with unexpected results, tickles fans of many directors. Pinocchio is Traveled in outer space, to become Shrek a sidekick And one has shown more nefarious sides 1996 slasher film. There is also 1971 soft-porn film.
For the 52-year-old Garonne, the book had inspired what he described as his first storyboard, a cartoonish retelling he drew at age 5 or 6. He framed the picture, which he keeps in front of his desk as inspiration.
“You are pure when you are a child, and the things that you have a freshness that you struggle to find as an adult,” he said in an interview this month in his office at a Roman film studio. “I always have that picture as a model.” Excerpts from the conversation have been edited here.
There are many film versions of “Pinocchio”. So why do another one?
When I re-read the book as an adult six or seven years ago, I noticed that there were many things I did not remember and above all things that I did not see in the film versions. So I thought, if I was surprised to read the text, maybe I could make a film about a book that people think they know, but not really. He was a big gamble, surprising people by making them as loyal as possible to the book.
But does this also mean that one should be loyal to the original book’s atmosphere, with an emphasis on the poverty of rural Italy in the 19th century?
In Kolody’s story, you can feel hunger, you can feel poverty. A lot of research went into preparing “Pinocchio”. There is a lot of attention to realism and at the same time a fanciful-like abstraction, which is one of the things that fascinates me the most when I read a book.
[Garrone pointed to an enormous storyboard for the movie, pinned with a jumble of handwritten notes, photographs from that era, actor head shots, images of phantasmagorical animals and copies of the original drawings for “Pinocchio” by Enrico Mazzanti.]
For each scene, we looked for pictorial references and illustrations, we wanted to recreate the taste of that world. We shot part of the film in Tuscany and then moved to Puglia because Tuscany has changed a lot in the last century, and we wanted to be loyal to the peasant atmosphere at the end of the 19th century.
In the film, Roberto Benigni played the role of the carpenter, Geppetto, after making his own “Pinocchio” film in 2002, in which he starred as a puppet. Why did you land it?
Roberto Geppetto is. In the sense that Roberto is a witness to Italy who is disappearing. He comes from a family of farmers, they lived in moments of great poverty, lived five or six in a room, they have experienced hunger. So there was no one better than Roberto to give authenticity and humanity to this character. It was a great privilege for us.
In the book, Pinocchio is often obnoxious. Your Pinocchio, played by Federico Ileppey, is very much liked. Was that on purpose?
I tried to soften his personality. He clearly makes a ton of mistakes in the beginning, and he can come across as irritated. But I tried to narrow him down, drawing on the naivety of the boy who plays him, which is the exact opposite of Pinocchio. We know that Pinocchio wants to get out of responsibility, difficulties and work to pursue happiness. But Federico had the will and discipline to sit for four hours every day, while Mark Couperer applied his makeup. Federico was truly exceptional, and it overpowered the character.
How did you balance your desire for realism with the special effects that transport the audience?
It is because of the special effects that I was able to make a live-action film where Pinocchio is actually a wooden puppet. Most of the characters are anthropological, speaking animals. We did a lot of work on special effects that were tangible, artificial, with Coupera, who is a two-time Oscar winner, and then we did integration with computer-generated effects. Personally, I don’t like special effects that are digital only. I also like to work on green screens for a mix and with concrete figures.
The real challenge of such a film was to appeal to children, who are spoiled by special effects. We wanted to make a film that could grab their attention and take them to another world in an hour or two. This was the real challenge.
Is there a current message?
Collodie meant that the book was erudite, meant to warn children about the dangers of the surrounding world and its violence. It is true, today more than ever. I was constantly thinking about Collodie as I made the film. We know it is set at the end of the 19th century, but I felt as if I am currently shooting a tied film.
I remember that when I started researching the film, I went to see the grandson of Pinocchio’s original editor. We had lunch and they told me: “Pinocchio is such a hard book, because Pinocchio is always moving.” And I replied: “Yes, it’s true, but I don’t want to catch him, I just want to run after him and see that he takes me.” This is the approach I took.