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Western Animation / Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio

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"From my many wanderings on this Earth, I had so much to say about imperfect fathers and imperfect sons. And about loss and love. I've learned that there are old spirits who rarely involve themselves in the human world, but on occasion, they do. I want to tell you a story. It's a story you may think you know, but you don't. A story of the wooden boy."
Sebastian J. Cricket, Official Teaser

Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio (or simply Pinocchio) is a 2022 stop-motion animated film from, unsurprisingly, Guillermo del Toro; and produced by Netflix Animation, The Jim Henson Company and ShadowMachine. Del Toro co-directed the movie with Mark Gustafson (who was the animation director for Fantastic Mr. Fox) and co-wrote it with Patrick McHale (known for creating Over the Garden Wall), while basing its production design on the illustrations by Gris Grimly.

In Fascist Italy, a lonely woodcarver named Geppetto mourns the loss of his young son. Inevitably, he is driven to build a wooden boy who is brought to life by a wood sprite... but the wooden boy isn't exactly squeaky clean.

The movie holds the distinction of not only being the third movie based on The Adventures of Pinocchio to be released in 2022 (alongside Pinocchio: A True Story and Disney's remake of their Pinocchio), but also for having been in Development Hell, being announced in 2008, meaning to be released in 2013 or 2014, only to miss both years and having its production suspended in 2017 because no studio wanted to fund it until 2018 when Netflix swooped right in.

The movie features the voices of Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, Gregory Mann, Ron Perlman, Finn Wolfhard, Cate Blanchett, Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton, Tim Blake Nelson, Burn Gorman and John Turturro. It had a limited theatrical run on November 9, 2022 before appearing on Netflix itself on December 9, 2022.

Watch the Official Teaser and the Official Teaser Trailer.

Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio contains examples of:

  • Abnormal Limb Rotation Range: Pinocchio playfully reveals himself to Geppetto by moving towards him unnaturally like a Ju-on ghost, which understandably spooks the old man.
  • Absurdly-Long Limousine: Mussolini arrives at the carnival in a ridiculously long car that takes several seconds to pass by the screen. It's then immediately juxtaposed by how ridiculously small Mussolini is, who's so short he was taller sitting in the car than standing on the ground.
  • Abusive Parents: The Podestà is implied to be this (at least psychologically) towards Candlewick.
  • Adapted Out:
    • The entire Land of Toys plot is removed from this version of the story with the Coachman character instead being reimagined as the Podestà, a fascist government official who wants to turn Pinocchio and other young boys into soldiers for the regime. As a result, Candlewick and the other boys are never transformed into donkeys, but are instead left to an Uncertain Doom as the military training camp is bombed. During the bombing run, they are seen putting on gas masks, which vaguely resemble donkey faces, though.
    • Much like a majority of Pinocchio adaptations, The Green Fisherman is also 86’d from the film.
  • Adaptational Abomination:
    • The rabbits are psychopomps, the role they served in Carlo Collodi's original book, though we get a better look at their day-to-day. Instead of being regular anthropomorphic rabbits, they are in fact skeletons who are still wearing their black pelts as executioner-like hoods and coats, only covering their heads and shoulders.
    • The Dogfish, rather than a giant shark or whale, is a horrifying sea abomination who emerges only once in every decade or so, swallowing everything and everyone in its way.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Both Pinocchio and Geppetto are subject to this. The former gets drafted into a youth training camp for the war on top of being used by a sleazy showman, while the latter is still mourning over the untimely death of his original son, and is prone to losing his temper.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Downplayed with Geppetto, who is still fundamentally a good guy but is much more of a Grumpy Old Man than in most other versions, mostly thanks to him still grieving for his original son.
  • Adaptational Karma:
    • Candlewick instead of turning into a donkey, possibly dies (it's never explicitly shown or stated) with the other trainees when the camp gets bombed. The Coachman, or specifically his counterpart the Podestà, dies with everyone else in the camp.
    • Volpe, a combination of Fox, the Cat, the puppeteer Mangiafuoco, and the Repulsive Ringmaster that abuses Pinocchio as a donkey falls to his death after trying to burn Pinocchio. Also helping matter is Spazzatura turning on him after being abused by him for so long.
    • The Terrible Dogfish is blown up from the inside, while not having a role in the original story after Geppetto and Pinocchio escape.
  • Adaptational Name Change: The Blue Fairy is never referred to by that name, instead being listed in the credits as "Wood Sprite".
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • In the book — and most previous adaptations — Lampwick/Candlewick is treated as simply a bad kid who pays the price for being disobedient — an unsympathetic Anti-Role Model, albeit often considered to suffer Disproportionate Retribution. This movie's version of Candlewick, on the other hand, is given a legitimate Freudian Excuse, and his capacity for disobedience is treated as a much more ennobling quality.
    • Mangiafuoco, the original antagonistic puppeteer in the source text, was demoted in this movie and hybridised with the Fox to create Count Volpe, as early on Del Toro took stock of the Mangiafuoco design and decided he was "crap". The Mangiafuoco puppet remains in the movie but is now a bearded strongman in Volpe's circus and has no lines.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: Because he was brought to life before Geppetto could finish his work on him (as well as the fact that he was blackout drunk while making him), this version of Pinocchio is a lot less human-looking than usual. He's rough-hewn and oddly proportioned, doesn't wear clothes, has nails sticking out of his body, and his introductory scene shows he can move in all the disturbing ways a puppet can.
  • Adopting the Abused: Towards the climax of the film, this is what happens to Spazzatura the monkey, after the death of his abusive owner Count Volpe. Spazzatura makes a Heel–Face Turn and moves in with Gepetto, Pinocchio, and the Cricket, and ends up having a happy life with his new family until he eventually dies of old age.
  • Agony of the Feet: Candlewick tricks Pinocchio into getting his feet set ablaze by the fireplace. Geppetto panics to turn the flames off while Pinocchio, feeling no pain, is very amused by it all.
  • Angelic Abomination: The Wood Sprite and especially the Sphinx have similarities to Enochian angels, with eight wings covered in eyes.
  • Animal Motifs: Count Volpe, being a Composite Character of the Fox, among others, has this as a prominent part of his style, with his bright orange, pointy hair, long nose, a name that's "fox" in Italian and carries a walking cane with a fox head handle.
  • Animated Musical: The film contains several song numbers.
  • And Starring: The teaser trailer's cast list ends as such: "With Christoph Waltz / and Tilda Swinton"
  • Arc Words: "Obey". Most adaptations stick to a "If you don’t obey your parents or a higher authority, bad things will happen to you" moral. In this movie, it's shown how Blind Obedience is counterproductive and very problematic when said parents and higher authorities are misguided by their personal issues (Geppetto) or have a corrupted morality (Count Volpe and the Podestà). Also, the real-life Fascist motto "Credere Obbedire Combattere" (To Believe. To Obey. To Fight.) is prominently displayed in several scenes on walls and buildings.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Count Volpe is a former aristocrat and, unsurprisingly, a bad guy.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When Candlewick finally stands up to his father, he asks, "I'm not afraid to say no. Are you?" This drives the Podestà into a Villainous Breakdown.
  • Asshole Victim: The Podestà and Count Volpe both meet violent Karmic Deaths.
  • Baby See, Baby Do: Pinocchio tends to childishly mimic whatever he sees others doing and saying in front of him before he gets better. Justified because he's literally a few days old.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Count Volpe's sickening Bad Boss nature is highlighted by his mistreatment of Spazzatura the monkey.
  • Balloonacy: Count Volpe has Spazzatura being helplessly carried away by balloons before shooting them down during the "We Were a King Once" song.
  • Become a Real Boy: Averted. Unlike many other adaptations, Pinocchio never stops being a wooden boy, in accordance with the more Be Yourself - centered moral. However, when he gives up his immortality and accepts that his life will eventually end, Death says that he has now, at least metaphorically, become a real boy.
  • Be Yourself: Unlike most versions of the story, Pinocchio never becomes a "real boy", nor is his ultimate lesson about behaving. Rather, it's more about not blindly listening to what's considered "the rules", especially if they're actively morally bankrupt and/or disregardful of you as a person, and instead embracing every bit of yourself, imperfections and all.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Count Volpe and the Podestà, both of whom want to mold Pinocchio into their, well, puppet, as well as the Terrible Dogfish, are the three primary antagonists of the film.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The Terrible Dogfish has a whole lighthouse inside its belly that doesn't even reach the roof of the stomach.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Pinocchio is finally accepted as Geppetto's son, but as he and his family/friends live happy lives, he gradually loses them all to old age. Eventually, he ventures off to who knows where, though Sebastian says that maybe someday, he'll die and see everyone again. Everyone does, after all.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • "Spazzatura" is Italian for "garbage", indicating how Volpe sees the poor creature.
    • During the "Big Baby Il Duce March", Pinocchio unfurls a defaced banner of Mussolini referring to him as "Sua Escremenza, Puzzolini". "Sua Escramenza" ("His Excrement") is a Pun on "Sua Eccelenza" ("His Excellency"), while "puzzo" means "stinky", making the joke something akin to "Mus-smell-ini".
    • The epitaph on Spazzatura's grave at the end of the movie reads "Il divo del palco", which translates to "the star of the stage".
  • Blatant Lies: Wouldn't be a Pinocchio movie without them.
    • While meeting with the Priest and the Podestà at his home, Geppetto treats Candlewick to some hot chocolate. Pinocchio wants some too, and makes it a point to petulantly yell he wants hot chocolate when he doesn't get any. He only obeys once Geppetto makes it clear simple obedience will get him the hot chocolate he so desires. All in all, there's a big contradiction to Geppetto telling his company that Pinocchio is a rather well-behaved kid.
    • Pinocchio only agrees to work for Volpe if half the money he earns will go to Geppetto. Volpe easily agrees, but while the audience knows someone as unscrupulous as him will never uphold this promise, Pinocchio is naive enough to believe him. Sure enough, Volpe is shown later only dividing a tiny pittance of the money to go to Geppetto (under the excuse of supplementary expenses) - and it turns out that he doesn't even send that small amount.
  • Blind Obedience: Examining this is a Central Theme of the movie. Pinocchio never becomes a "real boy", nor is his ultimate lesson about doing what he's "supposed" to do. Rather, he learns to not blindly listen to the rules, especially if they're actively malevolent towards him or other people. Instead, Pinocchio learns to defy the rules when necessary, and embrace what he is, which causes his surrogate father to accept him as well.
  • Bloodless Carnage: The only use of blood in the film is of the artistic kind, with the red paint used to depict the blood issuing from Christ's crown of thorns. Every other use of violence in the film leaves the characters spotless. Even the quick shot we get of Volpe's dead body shows his body, while mangled, is clean; there's not even any blood from the bone jutting out of one of his shattered arms.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Death is not an evil force, nor is she a good force. She cannot really be said to have any morality that makes sense to us at all. She is cold to Pinocchio, but not malicious. She simply represents a force of nature, the inevitability of death.
  • Book Ends: The movie begins and ends with a pinecone falling off a tree.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Pinocchio starts off being rather reckless and petulant before his Character Development kicks in. The first thing he does after revealing himself to Geppetto is making a mess by questioning the things he sees around the house before gleefully breaking them, much to his father's distress.
  • Butt-Monkey:
  • Calling the Old Man Out: It's a story about "imperfect fathers and imperfect sons".
    • After Pinocchio runs off to join the circus, Sebastian chews out Geppetto for trying to mold Pinocchio into a replacement for Carlo instead of loving him as he is.
    • Candlewick, thanks in no small part to Pinocchio's words, stands up to his abusive father, the Podestà, letting him know that he doesn't care if he thinks he's too weak.
  • Cane Sword: Count Volpe's cane holds a sword which he uses to threaten Pinocchio.
  • Canon Foreigner: The Podestà, a fascist government official who turns Pinocchio into a soldier, and occupies the role played by the Coachman; the Repulsive Ringmaster Count Volpe; Geppetto's dead son Carlo; and Spazzatura the Monkey are all characters made explicitly for this take on Pinocchio.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: Alluded to, when one of the Black Rabbits hears Pinocchio being still alive inside his coffin and a fellow rabbit reaffirms "He is dead, I saw the paperwork myself!" Given the presence of their clocking-in machine, it's not unthinkable to assume the movie's afterlife at large could be this.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Wood Sprite tells Sebastian that, if he agrees to serve as Pinocchio's conscience and guide him towards good, she will grant him one wish. At the end of the movie, he uses this to bring Pinocchio back to life one last time.
    • Pinocchio's growing nose becomes instrumental in letting the heroes escape the Terrible Dogfish's entrails.
  • Child Soldiers: Pleasure Island/Toy Land from the original story is turned into a youth training camp. Pinocchio and the other boys find the training with paintball guns to be great fun, until the Allies actually attack them and they're immediately forced out to fight with real guns. The Podestà's plan to have Pinocchio fight in the war would also qualify, because Pinocchio is mentally a young boy and only a few days old at the time.
  • Close on Title: The film's title isn't shown until the very end just before The Stinger.
  • Comically Wordy Contract: The contract Count Volpe makes Pinocchio sign is a very long scroll of paper.
  • Composite Character: One of the villains, Count Volpe, is said by del Toro to be a fusion of the Fox, the Cat, the puppetmaster Mangiafuoco (aka. Fire-Eater) and the circus director that buys Pinocchio in donkey form from the original story. To drive it further home, Volpe's hair resembles fox ears, he carries a cane with a fox head decor, and his name means "fox" in Italian.
  • Cornered Rattlesnake: Spazzatura is abused by Count Volpe, but never fights back. When Count Volpe tries to burn Pinocchio, Spazzatura defies Volpe to save him. Volpe becomes furious, and draws his sword against Spazzatura, backing him and Pinocchio up against a cliff edge and declaring, "You will betray me no more!" Driven to a point where it's come to either standing up against Volpe or dying, Spazzatura stops cowering, his expression shifts to of one of hostility, and he launches himself at Volpe, attacking and overpowering him.
  • Covers Always Lie: A minor one, but the poster shows Pinocchio's nose growing leaves, while in the movie he's made of pine, which grows needles.
  • Crappy Carnival: Count Volpe's. Though it's less crappy as it is more of a small and unremarkable carnival that has a fake giraffe and a phony two-headed sideshow boy among its attractions. Volpe's dialogues and Villain Song imply that it used to be better and his desire to exploit Pinocchio has the end goal of returning his business to its former glory.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Near the end of the movie, Volpe ties Pinocchio to a wooden cross, ready to burn him. This calls back to an early scene in the movie, where Pinocchio asks Geppetto why people adore the wooden Jesus figure and hate him, despite both of them being carved from wood.
  • Darker and Edgier: While the book was already dark, this movie takes it up a notch by being set in Fascist Italy of all eras. The film touches upon many mature themes, such as death, grief, abuse and war; the Land of Toys / Pleasure Island scene, in particular, is replaced by Pinocchio getting drafted into a youth military training camp. Despite this, the film is still appropriate for children, and has an overall positive message about the beauty and value of life.
  • Dead Hat Shot: When Podestà is blown up by an Allied bombing run, his hat, with smouldering holes in it, falls to the ground outside the youth camp facility to signal that he's definitely not coming back.
  • Deadly Distant Finale: The film ends with all the remaining main characters gradually dying of old age many years later, until only Pinocchio is left (although it shows Sebastian playing cards, while retelling the events of the movie, with the Black Rabbits in the afterlife).
  • Death by Adaptation:
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Deconstructed. Pinocchio dies twice before the last act of the movie, but it's hardly an issue, as he's an immortal wooden boy who only has to spend time in the afterlife for about a couple minutes or so. In fact, he proudly boasts this fact the second time around. It's when he realizes that no one else has his luck that it starts to become a concern.
  • Disney Villain Death: Volpe is killed when he slips off a cliff after Spazzatura turns on and attacks him. Spazzatura lands in the water and survives, while Volpe isn't so lucky and lands on a rock jutting out of the ocean. Unlike most examples of the trope, we actually see him land, complete with a Sickening "Crunch!".
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Sure, it was very humiliating for Mussolini to listen to Pinocchio's Toilet Humor-laden "The Villain Sucks" Song about him, but him ordering his guard to kill Pinocchio and have the circus burned down is an overreaction, to say the least. Not so surprising considering that the real life Mussolini frequently had his opponents exiled, jailed or executed for disapproving of his politics.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After Pinocchio wins his trust, Spazzatura refuses to burn him on Volpe's request, and even attacks him. It earns the monkey his freedom and Volpe suffers a Disney Villain Death.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: Death is depicted as a sphinx-like being in a sand-filled room surrounded by hourglasses. However, she is polite and kind to Pinocchio, and even gives him the choice to save his father while warning him that it will make him permanently mortal. The zombie-like Black Rabbits are also depicted as punch-clock workers more interested in playing cards than collecting souls.
  • Downer Beginning: Downplayed. The story opens up at the very instant Geppetto is tending to his son's grave, dead for roughly 20 years now. Most of the beginning is a flashback to Carlo's life, but it ends with Carlo's unforeseen death by bomb.
  • Dramatic Irony: "Ciao Papa" has Pinocchio singing about how his father doesn't have to worry anymore because he'll make the money to provide for him. Unknown to our unsuspecting young hero, Volpe hasn't sent even one cent to Geppetto like he promised. And meanwhile, poor Geppetto is not only going broke trying to look for Pinocchio and reclaim him, but worrying himself sick.
  • Dramatic Thunder: Geppetto messily carves and builds Pinocchio as there's a thundering storm outside his house.
  • The Dreaded: The Sea Captain describes the Dogfish as a horrifying abomination that rises from the sea in only every decade or so, swallowing everything and everyone before returning to the bottom of the sea. All naval transport is closed down when the Dogfish is on the loose.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Part of what kicks off the plot was that Geppetto was drinking as he grieved for Carlo's death many years later, bemoaning why the Heavens haven't heard his prayers to bring his son back somehow. And it was from this drunken stupor that he went through with the grief-driven idea to use the pine tree to carve the wooden likeness of Carlo that would come to be Pinocchio.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The blacksmith who compliments Geppetto for being a "model Italian citizen" as well as one of the men planting Carlo's gravestone during the prologue is the Podestà in the present day, currently sporting a mustache. His wife, who can be seen in the background calling Geppetto a "good father", also counts to an extent.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: "Candlewick" is revealed to be a disparaging nickname given to him by his abusive father in reference to his skinny stature and physical weakness.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • After felling a tree to carve a crucifix for the church, Geppetto tells Carlo that they must plant one of its pine cones, so that a new tree will grow, establishing his kind heart and foresight. However, he insists that they pick a "perfect" pine cone with no missing scales, setting up his major character flaw - the demand for perfection.
    • In the opening, the future Podesta is briefly introduced as the blacksmith, hammering a horseshoe and calls Gepetto a "model Italian citizen". Later on, when visiting Geppetto after Pinocchio was discovered, Podestà's sense of fascism is demonstrated when he talks about how Pinocchio is the perfect soldier primed for war. He also makes it a point to show off how Candlewick's the perfect son as though he were prize-winning chattel, indicating that if Geppetto is a perfectionist, then the Podestà has it worse.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: A rare example of this trope used in a positive, life affirming manner- Instead of stopping at Happily Ever After, the film goes on to show that, true to Death's earlier warning, Pinocchio outlives all his loved ones, burying them one by one before wandering the Earth alone. Sebastian's narration finishes with "What happens, happens, and then we are gone." This is meant to convey the ephemeral beauty of life.
  • Everybody Hates Mathematics: Pinocchio quickly grows disinterested about going to school when Sebastian tells him about how he'll learn the multiplication tables, especially due to Sebastian himself having trouble calculating the numbers of the example he tried to give him.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: The Wood Sprite and Death have eyes on her hair and wings, adding to her otherworldly appearance.
  • Family of Choice: Over the course of the movie, Pinocchio, Gepetto, Sebastian, and Spazzatura become tightknit despite Gepetto's initial denial that Pinocchio is his son, Sebastian's lack of interest in being the boy's conscience, and Spazzatura disliking the boy due to being jealous of him, but all become close to him and each other, and by the epilogue, all lived together peacefully for the rest of their lives before the latter three passed away from old age.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Count Volpe tumbles off a cliff and splatters onto a rock, but del Toro does not cut away from the impact at all. We see Volpe gruesomely smash into the rocks and break every bone in his body fully onscreen.
  • Feed It a Bomb: The Terrible Dogfish is killed by Pinocchio when he activates a naval mine dangling in its mouth, blowing it to smithereens.
  • Foil: Between Geppetto and Count Volpe. Both have lost something in the past they long to recapture somehow (Geppetto being his son, and Count Volpe being the fortune his family lost). And each are trying to use Pinocchio to recapture it to some degree. But even before he lost his son, Geppetto was a kindly and humble fellow who wanted for nothing, content with his son's company. And Count Volpe not only is discontent with living a decent life, but is rather cruel and mistreats Spazzatura. What's more, while Count Volpe ultimately treats Pinocchio cruelly and even tries to burn him for costing his business, Geppetto sees the error of his ways, tries to make amends with his adoptive son, and ultimately embraces him.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The dynamic between the Wood Sprite and Death. Death laments how sentimental her sister can be, and how the latter brought a puppet to life by borrowing a soul out of a whim, never caring about how the afterlife’s rules work.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Geppetto fussing over how the pine cone Carlo chose isn't perfect, because it's missing a scale, framing how his perfectionism will be problematic with the imperfect Pinocchio.
    • Count Volpe's fascist sympathies are not immediately obvious, but there are hints scattered around: He is an aristocrat who fell from grace, and desires a return to power and prestige, much like many of the Fascists were. He also listens to Richard Wagner, a famously antisemitic composer who was one of Adolf Hitler's favorite composers. Additionally, in his musical number, he derides "Jazz on the radio" - the Nazis famously considered jazz, a music genre of African American origins, to be "degenerate", a sentiment that was later imported into Italy by the Fascists.
    • Volpe promising he will make Pinocchio shine like the brightest star. The thing is, stars shine because they burn, which Volpe does to Pinocchio in retribution.
    • Death warning Pinocchio that living forever won't be all it's cracked to be because he'll outlive his loved ones. This comes to pass in the ending, albeit with the hope that since he's mortal, Pinocchio won't outlive them by forever.
  • Four Is Death: Beyond the four black rabbits in the afterlife Pinocchio dies a total of four times in the film. The fourth death was supposed to be permanent until Sebastian uses his wish to revive him.
  • The Freakshow: Count Volpe's carnival has typical sideshow figures such as a fat lady, a strongman, the works. Pinocchio's song and dance number is essentially a glorified sideshow that exploits his Living Toy nature.
  • Ghostapo: Well, Italian fascism, but the principle is the same. When the Podestà discovers that Pinocchio cannot permanently die, he immediately thinks of what a great idea it would be to draft Pinocchio into the army as an immortal Super-Soldier.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Applied to both Carlo and the Podestà, where the camera cuts away right before bombs blow them to smithereens—all that's left of either is a Dead Hat Shot. Completely averted, though, with Volpe—it passes by in an instant but we get to see the impact of his Disney Villain Death.
  • Gratuitous Italian: Although the characters speak English, the story is still set in Italy, thus several words and full sentences in Italian pepper the movie's dialogues and songs (such as "Ciao Papa").
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Given when and where the story is set, Benito Mussolini inevitably becomes this, though he only appears in a single yet quite memorable scene.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: Played for laughs with the psychopomp rabbits who carry Pinocchio's coffin whenever he dies. Despite their ominous appearance and the foreboding atmosphere whenever they show up, they seem most interested in just playing cards, and seem like a bunch of regular blue-collar guys. They are all voiced by Tim Blake Nelson.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: When Candlewick confides in Pinocchio that his father considers him a disappointment, Pinocchio, based on his own experiences with Geppetto, assures him that all fathers love their sons, even if they sometimes say unkind things that they later regret. Though well-meaning, these words are ultimately proven wrong, as it turns out that the Podestà really has no love for his son. However, realizing this hard truth finally gives Candlewick the courage to stand up to his abusive father instead of vainly trying to win his approval.
  • Here There Be Dragons: There's a Travel Montage moment during the "Ciao Papa" song that shows a map depicting a sea monster sticking out of the waves in the Ligurian Sea. The design of the Terrible Dogfish was also heavily based on the sea monsters drawn in old maps.
  • Historical Domain Character: Mussolini shows up to Count Volpe's show and gets utterly mocked by Pinocchio and Spazzatura turning the propagandistic musical song-and-dance into a childishly vulgar "The Villain Sucks" Song.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Count Volpe - an aristocrat who now lives in a trailer with a traveling circus.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: In this case, by necessity, since Disney released a live-action/CGI remake of their Pinocchio the same year.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: The Priest's appearance is quite close to that of his voice actor, Burn Gorman.
  • Innocent Awkward Question: When Pinocchio first comes to life, he's Constantly Curious, and begins asking Gepetto about the various items in his home. At one point, Pinocchio finds a chamber pot and asks what it's for. Gepetto awkwardly tries to come up with an explanation, but ultimately ends up not answering the question.
  • Ironic Echo: Everything Count Volpe tells Pinocchio during their first interaction comes back later in a less savory light. When Pinocchio voices he doesn't appreciate Count Volpe calling him a "puppet", he tries to smooth it over with flattery about how people like puppets. And he promises Pinocchio will be the brightest star. Later? He threatens Pinocchio's outburst with how "puppet" is synonymous with "slave". And when he's burning him, he's indeed making sure Pinocchio is like a star: burning bright.
  • Irony: Pinocchio is a puppet, but through his cheerful defiance of social norms, he is actually more free than the living people keeping their heads down under Italy's fascist regime around him.
  • Jealous Pet: Spazzatura becomes a bit jealous of Pinocchio due to Count Volpe praising him and even expresses his feelings to him through the use of marionettes.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: At first, Candlewick comes across to be as cruel as his father. It later turns out that Candlewick is actually a nice enough kid who only acts the way he does because of the Podestà's stern, borderline abusive parenting and just needs a real friend.
  • Karma Houdini: Benito Mussolini, but it's totally justified since he is a historical figure who only has a cameo (albeit a very memorable one). But anyone who knows history, knows Mussolini eventually got his, thus making it more of a Karma Houdini Warranty.
  • Karmic Death: Podestà, Count Volpe and the Dogfish. The Podestà dies in an allied bombing as he tries to inculcate his son with a love of war and devotion to Fascism, Count Volpe is killed when Spazzatura finally retaliates after all the abuse he received and throws him off a cliff in the ensuing fight, and the Dogfish gets blown to bits after Pinocchio activates a naval mine that got caught in its throat while it was trying to swallow him again.
  • Kill It with Fire: Count Volpe attempts to burn Pinocchio at the stake for making him lose his showman career after he humiliated Mussolini.
  • Leitmotif: The Fatherland March Suite is played several times throughout the movie associating itself heavily with Mussolini's dictatorship.
  • Lighter and Softer: While the movie is a Darker and Edgier take on the Pinocchio story, it is much more light-hearted than the previous films in del Toro's "Fascism" trilogy, Pan's Labyrinth and The Devil's Backbone. Also much lighter than Nightmare Alley (2021), the film he made immediately before this one, which might be the very bleakest movie in his entire catalogue.
  • Literal Metaphor: Sebastian J. Cricket lives in Pinocchio's heart in the literal sense: he lives in a hole in the wood that Pinocchio is carved from that happens to be in the middle of Pinocchio's chest. And after his death, Pinocchio carries him in a matchbox he keeps in his heart to this day, meaning he literally lives on in Pinocchio's heart.
  • Literal-Minded: Pinocchio is a bit of this early on. When Sebastian tries to give him a math multiplication example by saying "Say you have four carts, each with 27 apples..." Pinocchio angrily objects that he doesn't have those.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: Deconstructed. It's More like the case of Resurrective Immortality is Awesome, but this is Pinocchio's initial reaction to his ability. As Death tries to explain each time Pinocchio dies, what makes life worth living is how short it is. Pinocchio comes to realize this when he has to sacrifice his immortality to save Gepetto. Even with this in mind, Pinocchio still outlives his loved ones since he cannot truly age, but Sebastian is confident he will die for real someday and reunite with them.
  • Lost in Imitation: For being a movie selling itself as "A story you may think you know... but you don't" it follows a lot of the same beats popularized by the 1940 Disney adaptation, such as the Blue Fairy bringing Pinocchio to life and making the Cricket a permanent sidekick/guide to Pinocchio, the puppet master being a bad guy, the actionized climax with the sea monster etc.
  • Magic Realism: The film is very much grounded in 1930s Italy, but there are talking animals, magical sprites that can bring puppets to life, and a horrifying Sea Monster terrorizing the waters.
  • Maniac Monkeys: Spazzatura the monkey is initially introduced as a sinister pawn of Count Volpe, but as the story goes on, he becomes more sympathetic when we see how Volpe abuses him, leading to a gradual Mook–Face Turn.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Spazzatura is Italian for "garbage". Poor monkey...
    • "Volpe" is Italian for "fox", fitting with the character's Animal Motif.
  • Medium Blending: While much of the film is done using the Stop Motion puppets, there's also a lot of CGI utilized for the effects, set extensions, rig removal and even some crowd shots with CGI background characters.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: It's set in Italy, so there's a lot of hand-talking. Notably, when the Podesta praises Pinocchio's construction from "good Italian pine", he punctuates his point with the "pinched fingers" gesture.
  • Missing Mom: There's neither any show of Carlo's mother, nor any indication of why she's not in her son's life, or if she's even alive. The only sign she existed at all is through her lullaby, which Geppetto sings to Carlo.
  • Mistaken for Toilet: Inverted when Pinocchio finds a chamber pot and mistakes it for a hat, much to Geppetto's chagrin.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal:
    • Pinocchio sabotages Volpe's patriotic act dedicated to Mussolini upon learning that Volpe broke his promise to send half of the earnings to Gepetto.
    • Volpe beats and insults Spazzatura repeatedly, and basically treats him as completely expendable. Eventually, Spazzatura turns on him in favor of Pinocchio after the wooden boy defended the monkey, despite having no reason to, by helping him sabotage the patriotic song and lately saving his life from Volpe.
  • Musicalis Interruptus: Twice over Sebastian manages to get his own song started... and then promptly stopped by something. He finally gets to sing it when he's in the afterlife, and it's a glorious showstopper... unless the viewer invokes Running Gag and ends the credits, and Sebastian's number, early.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The pears that Geppetto buys for himself and Carlo are a shout-out to one vignette in the original story where Geppetto was trying to teach Pinocchio the importance of eating your food, even the parts you may not like.
    • The Talking Cricket living inside the tree trunk that Geppetto cuts down and takes home to create Pinocchio carrying the Cricket along parallels how Mokku of the Oak Tree did it in episode 1.
    • The reason the cricket is constantly subject to Amusing Injuries - one of which prominently involving a hammer - is likely a nod to his fate in the original book, where Pinocchio got annoyed by him and smashed him with a hammer, and he spent the rest of the novel as a ghost. Not to mention how Sebastian is basically telling the entire story from beyond the grave.
    • Pinocchio burning his feet (at Candlewick's mischievous behest) is reminiscent of when the wooden boy put his feet by the fire to warm while he rested, only to find them burnt to stumps when he awoke.
    • The Wood Sprite giving life to Pinocchio (who in the book came from an enchanted tree stump the Blue Fairy had nothing to do with) and getting Sebastian to be his guide is a cue taken from the Disney movie, as is Count Volpe convincing Pinocchio to join the showbiz like Honest John does and having him sing and dance in a number not too different from the "I've Got No Strings" scene.
    • When Geppetto shoves Pinocchio into the closet early on, a pair of blue gloves are stuck to his face which resemble the White Gloves the Disney version wore.
    • The cricket is named Sebastian J. Cricket, with the middle initial never elaborated upon. Jiminy, perhaps?
    • One of Volpe's circus performers is a strongman with a long bushy beard, whose appearance resembles the original Mangiafuoco.note 
    • Spazzatura being a monkey who has a Mook–Face Turn brings to mind Igor from Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night, as does Pinocchio deciding to run away from home at night to join the Big Bad's carnival after angering Geppetto, while Gee Willikers is unable to follow him due to being stuck under a basket similar to Sebastian getting trapped under a glass.
    • Volpe eating his script when Pinocchio wrecks his show resembles Stromboli's fury at Pinocchio during the famous "I Got No Strings" scene in the 1940 film.
    • A more serious one when Pinocchio arrives at the military training camp. There's a brief montage of boys climbing up ropes, echoing the scenes of Pleasure Island in the 1940 version, which featured a lot of boys climbing onto roofs and jumping out windows. This subtly tells the viewer that the training camp will be this story's equivalent to Pleasure Island. The difference is, in the Disney movie, it's a place where boys misbehave and run wild, while here, they're all doing exactly what they're told, and are implicitly miserable throughout.
    • When the military training camp is bombed, there's a quick shot of soldiers putting gas masks on several of the boys. The masks make their faces look stretched out... kind of like donkeys.
    • Pinocchio using his nose as a Chekhov's Gun as a means to escape from the Terrible Dogfish harkens back to the 1996 live-action film doing a similar thing, even down to one of the intentional lies being the declaration that he hates his father.
    • Similarly to the original Disney movie, the Terrible Dogfish has Adaptational Villainy and furiously tries to swallow the heroes again when they escape, and Pinocchio commits a Heroic Sacrifice to save Geppetto from drowning but gets brought back to life as a reward for his selfless act.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Pinocchio is this to the entire world, as outlined in his "I Am" Song, "Everything is New To Me".
  • Named by the Adaptation: The Talking Cricket is given the full name of Sebastian J. Cricket.
  • The Napoleon: Mussolini is shown as extremely short, the top of his head barely reaching his driver's chest.note 
  • Nominal Hero: Sebastian, at first. He only agrees to watch after and act as a mentor for Pinocchio when the Wood Sprite promises him a wish for anything he desires, which he wants to use to seek fame and fortune. Over the course of the film, he grows genuinely attached to the boy, and when Pinocchio sacrifices himself to save Geppetto's life, Sebastian uses his wish to bring Pinocchio back to life instead.
  • No Name Given: We never learn the names of the Podestà or the Priest. "Candlewick" is also implied to be a nickname.
  • Noodle Incident: We never find out what was the one question Pinocchio wanted to ask Death.
  • Not Enough to Bury: Carlo is killed when the church he's in is bombed. Geppetto can only bury a pinecone at his son's grave, which grows into the pine tree from which he carves Pinocchio.
  • Nothing Personal: Carlo's death is framed as this. According to Sebastian, the planes bombing the church he was in at the time might've been less out of malice and more out of a simple wish to lighten the plane's load. As such, it's an effective way to drive home the pointlessness of Carlo's death, and the callous nature of war.
  • Our Sphinxes Are Different: Death is a blue sphinx with two snakes for tails, long horns adorned with eyes, and eyes on her wings. Her human face never changes expression or moves, and is almost akin to a mask.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: In this version of the story, Geppetto had a son named Carlo who died at a young age after being in the epicenter of a dropped bomb. This gives more depth to him treating Pinocchio like a son, albeit one he's very reluctant to embrace.
  • Parental Love Song: "My Son", a lullaby Geppetto sings to his son Carlo about how much he loves him, and which came from Carlo's mother.
    My son, my son
    You are my shining sun
    My moon, my stars
    My clear blue daylight sky
  • Pinocchio Nose: True to form, Pinocchio's nose grows every time he knowingly lies. Unlike most versions, it doesn't just grow longer, but becomes more tree-like as it gets bigger, growing branches, pine needles, and pinecones. It is used more practically when escaping the belly of the Terrible Dogfish, he spouts many silly lies in rapid succession in order to grow his nose huge so he, Spazzatura, Geppetto, and Sebastian can reach one of the Dogfish's blowholes.
  • Please Wake Up: When Pinocchio has truly died (for now), Geppetto keeps hoping that Pinocchio will simply wake up. Justified, as this isn't the first time he "died", and he doesn't know the context of how Pinocchio made himself mortal.
  • Posthumous Narration: The ending shows that Sebastian was narrating the whole story to the four Black Rabbits in the afterlife after having passed on of old age.
  • Power Glows: When the Wood Sprite instills life into Pinocchio, she unleashes a bright blue light from her hand that illuminates the wood grains of his body like Volcanic Veins.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: In his brief appearance, Mussolini is portrayed as an overgrown child who likes to watch puppet shows and, after finding himself the target of mockery, violently overreacts by having Pinocchio shot and the entire circus burnt down. He's even portrayed as having the disproportionately large head and small limbs of an oversize infant or toddler.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The hares working in the afterlife literally punch cards at one point. They aren't necessarily villains, however.
  • Putting on the Reich: There aren't as many depictions of Italian fascism in North American media, so to make sure the audience knows who these guys are and what they're about, the Podestà is never seen out of his uniform, which just happens to look very much like those worn by his German counterparts - black overcoat, red armband, the works. The Nazi-style salute would hopefully sell the getup to anyone who can't tell by this point.
  • Race Against the Clock: Geppetto, Pinocchio, Spazzatura and Sebastian have very little time to flee the Dogfish's guts, since the abomination spends very little time on the surface and is set to plunge back into the depths of the ocean for countless years, whereupon any escape will become impossible.
  • Related in the Adaptation: The Podestà, this movie's counterpart to the Coachman, is now the father of Candlewick.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Deconstructed in a sobering way. The eponymous puppet is created when a drunken Geppetto, who is still angry and grieving from the loss of his son Carlo twenty years prior from collateral damage from World War I, cuts down the tree he planted next to Carlo's grave and carves it into a very loose effigy of the boy. Geppetto tries to get used to said puppet and treats him identically to Carlo, not caring that Pinocchio has developed an identity of his own. This leads to an argument between the two where Geppetto angrily calls Pinocchio a burden for joining Volpe's traveling circus against his wishes, resulting in a hurt Pinocchio returning to the circus to earn money for his father. Geppetto, distraught over Pinocchio's disappearance, realizes that the kid loves him like a father regardless after Sebastian calls him out on it, and never compares him to Carlo again once he sets off to find him.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Pinocchio, as a magical boy made of wood and not flesh, is unable to die permanently. Every time he suffers injuries that would normally be fatal for a flesh-and-blood human, he is sent to the afterlife, where he has to spend a short period with Death, before reviving on the mortal plane. There is the minor caveat that every time he dies, the time he has to spend in the afterlife is a little longer than last time. However, he is told by Death he can choose to circumvent this waiting period, but doing so will take away his immortality.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • Long noses are associated with lies, hence why Pinocchio's nose grows when he does so. Count Volpe's nose is very long, signifying that he's a major liar throughout.
    • While the Land of Toys/Pleasure Island is adapted out in favor of a Fascist Ghostapo, when war planes arrives to bomb the camp, the kid soldiers are forced to wear gas-masks, that give them a donkey-like face.
    • The Podestá's Karmic Death sees him tangled in a net during a bombing, which causes him to resemble a marionette tangled in its strings - a demonstration that the iron-fisted control he tried to exert over Pinocchio has come back to bite him.
    • At the beginning of the film, Geppetto's Jesus Christ sculpture is missing its left arm. When Pinocchio comes back to life at the end, he's missing a left arm as well.
  • The Runaway: Pinocchio decides to run away at night to join Count Volpe's carnival, believing that by doing so he'll avoid the recruitment and prove himself to be a good son by sending his payments to Geppetto. Sebastian and Geppetto go after the carnival to get him back.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The peg legged seaman with a Hook Hand jumps overboard and swims away to safety while the Terrible Dogfish swallows his boat and Geppetto and Sebastian with it.
  • Sea Monster: Per the norm, the Terrible Dogfish. Though this one is by far the ugliest iteration yet, resembling a bulbous leviathan straight out of an old Here There Be Dragons map.
  • Selfless Wish: The Wood Sprite promises Sebastian one wish for anything he wants if he looks after Pinocchio. Sebastian muses about all the fame and fortune he could wish for when he hears this, but in the end, after growing fond of Pinocchio as a person, he uses his wish to bring him back to life.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Count Volpe speaks in a refined, pretentious manner with an inflated tone and vocabulary.
  • Setting Update: Normally Pinocchio is portrayed as taking place in the 19th century, while here the setting is brought forward to the middle of Mussolini's reign over Fascist Italy in the 1930s.
  • Shadow Archetype: To a degree, the Podestà is what Geppetto would be if he let his perfectionism keep him from being a decent father towards his son. But while the Podestà doesn't relinquish his viewpoint on fascism when Candlewick defies him, Geppetto's entire quest is about finding Pinocchio and making amends for not accepting him as he was.
  • Shark Fin of Doom: When the Terrible Dogfish approaches to gobble up Geppetto and Sebastian's boat, it makes its presence known by sticking its dorsal fin out of the waters in this fashion.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Earlier at the church, when Geppetto asks Carlo to fetch him more red paint, at the top of the two windows to the right there's stained glass decorations of the Faun and the Pale Man's heads.
    • The dropping of the bomb that kills Carlo is a Homage Shot to the opening of The Devil's Backbone, in which a bomb is also dropped from a plane with the same atmosphere and composition. Furthermore, Sebastian is revealed to be narrating the story from beyond the grave like Dr. Casares and Pinocchio's design is partially inspired by Santi's, presenting cracks on his head in the same spot Santi has his bleeding wound.
    • The scene of Geppetto making Pinocchio is reminiscent of several movie adaptions of Frankenstein, which is fitting since both are about an artificially made human who (at least in this version of Pinocchio and the original Frankenstein novel) is at first rejected by his creator. Thankfully for Pinocchio, Geppetto changes his mind about his creation, sparing him from the agony that the Creature had to endure from Victor.
    • To The Adventures of Baron Munchausen when Pinocchio happily mistakes the sleeping Terrible Dogfish for an island before it awakens pulling out a dorsal fin and attacking just like the Turtle Island Sea Monster from Terry Gilliam's film. The scene even has a similar late afternoon sky.
    • Pinocchio killing the Terrible Dogfish by setting off an explosive device lodged in its mouth is very reminiscent of Jaws.
    • On top of doubling as a Stealth Pun, Pinocchio keeping Sebastian's body to rest in a box of matches that he carries inside his chest is a stealth shout-out to Charles Dickens' The Cricket on the Hearth.
  • Sickening "Crunch!": The Disney Villain Death is kind of subverted as we see Count Volpe loudly smashing onto the rocks at the feet of the cliff while Spazzatura luckily misses them and falls into the sea.
  • Significant Double Casting:
    • Gregory Mann plays Pinocchio and Carlo, which signifies Geppetto's need to replace his son twenty years prior from collateral damage from World War I. It's also because Pinocchio is implicitly using the borrowed soul of Carlo to bring him to life.
    • Tilda Swinton plays both The Wood Sprite and the Sprite's sister Death, to add to the movie's message about life and death. It's also not the first time she's plays a pair of sisters.
  • Sinister Minister: Downplayed with the local Priest. Sure, he is allied with the Podestà and he thinks Pinocchio is a product of the Devil, but he seems to be just a product of the Fascist system as a whole, plus he is shown to be quite hospitable to Geppetto, and unlike the Podestà, he never seems to have ill intent toward Pinocchio.
  • Skyward Scream: Geppetto delivers one of these in anger at God refusing to hear his prayers to have his son back.
  • Soft Water: In Pinocchio's final confrontation with Count Volpe, both Volpe and Spazzatura fall off a cliff. Volpe lands on a rock just above the surface of the water, breaking all of his bones and dying a very unfriendly death. Spazzatura, however, falls into the water, at the exact same height that Volpe fell, and survives.
  • Something Only They Would Say: When Geppetto finds Pinocchio performing at the circus, he's singing a variation on the lullaby that Geppetto used to sing to Carlo. Geppetto asks how Pinocchio knows the song, but never gets an answer.
  • Speech-Impaired Animal: An unusual variant; Spazzatura is depicted as normally unable to speak... until he's puppeteering the circus marionettes, at which point he can speak through them.
  • Stepford Smiler: During the montage that accompanies his musical number "Ciao Papa", we see Pinocchio grow more and more dissatisfied with being Volpe's star actor as he misses Geppetto, and longs for the father-son relationship they previously had. At one point, we even see Pinocchio mask his unhappy expression with a jovial one for his audience.
  • Still Sucks Thumb: Pinocchio sabotages the cardboard soldiers' arms to make them do this gesture in Mussolini's "The Villain Sucks" Song.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: After Pinocchio, Geppetto and Spazzatura escape the Dogfish's belly through its blowhole, the beast becomes furious and chases the trio, trying to swallow them once again.
  • Super-Soldier: The Podestà sees the potential of Pinocchio becoming this if he joins the army, given his inability to feel pain or die from getting shot.
  • Sweet Tooth: Pinocchio quickly grows a liking for hot chocolate.
  • Symbolism:
    • The Time-Passes Montage of Geppetto visiting Carlo's grave for years on end is meant to drive home Sebastian's narration about how the world moved on (the time lapse of the pine cone growing into a pine tree) while Geppetto's grieving remains unchanged.
    • Geppetto accidentally spattering red paint onto the Podestà when he salutes him is two-fold. First, it low-key reflects the rather blood-thirsty nature of the Podestà's belief in fascism. Second, it's meant to signify how Geppetto is ironically imperfect for being a perfectionist.
      • Similarly, in the military camp scene, the guns for the boys' war games are loaded with paint instead of bullets — the first shots fired are yellow, but the next volley comes in red, evoking the boys' fate as model Fascist soldiers.
    • For twenty years, the wooden Jesus figure has remained unfinished, as though reflecting how Geppetto's grieving for Carlo has left him without closure. After Pinocchio comes into his life, Geppetto finishes painting the wooden Jesus figure, signifying that Geppetto's wounds are starting to heal because of him.
  • That's No Moon: While Pinocchio and Spazzatura are out at sea, they spot what appears to be an island with seagulls perched on it. Turns out the "island" is actually the Terrible Dogfish's back, which is soon awoken by all the commotion.
  • The Queen Will Be Watching: Count Volpe is very excited to have booked a performance of his patriotic puppet show before an audience including Benito Mussolini himself. Pinocchio and Spazzatura conspire to deliberately sabotage the show by rewriting the lyrics to insult Il Duce, instead of praising him.
  • Time-Passes Montage: Used at the beginning of the movie and at the end.
    • In the opening act, this is shown after Geppetto's son dies and he lingers at his grave. To depict how long Geppetto is mourning, a pinecone planted next to the grave gradually grows from a sprout to a big tree between cuts.
    • In the ending, this is used to show all the main characters growing old and passing on, from Geppetto on his deathbed, Sebastian cold on the windowsill, Spazzatura walking with a cane, and eventually three additional gravestones on the hill besides Carlo's.
  • Toilet Humour:
    • During his song about discovering new things, Pinocchio plays with a chamber pot, which Geppetto is very reluctant to explain.
    • To say NOTHING of the song Pinocchio and Spazzatura come up with to sabotage Volpe by rewriting the words to a patriotic song about Mussolini farting and getting pooped on. In several languages, no less.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailers reveal that Spazzatura is going to become a good guy as we see him joining Geppetto and Pinocchio in a Group Hug.
  • Tuckerization: Geppetto's deceased son is named Carlo, after the author of the original book, Carlo Collodi.
  • Uncertain Doom: The fate of Candlewick. Nobody gets turned into a donkey in this version, and the last we see of him is him scrambling to find Pinocchio right after the training camp gets bombed. He's explicitly shown to survive the bombing that kills his father, but what happens to him after that is unknown, as he and the other children are still in the vicinity of the bombs. It's left ambiguous whether he was Spared by the Adaptation from his fate in the book, or died later in the camp.
  • The Unintelligible: Spazzatura, voiced by Cate Blanchett making monkey noises. In a comedic twist, when he's operating his marionettes, he can talk through them.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Averted. Unlike the original book where the fantasy elements are seen as mundane, in this version whenever someone sees a living puppet or a talking cricket for the first time, they understandably have realistic shocked reaction.
  • Villain Song: Volpe gets one in "We Were a King Once", laying out his plan to make it big again by having Pinocchio perform at his carnival.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: Pinocchio rewrites the words of a patriotic song about Mussolini to put him down instead, with lots of Toilet Humour.
  • War Is Hell: As this takes place during WWII-era Italy, we get to see just how awful it is to the common folk. For starters, a bomb kills Geppetto's son at the beginning (that wasn't even aiming for the church he was in - it was simply dropped to lighten the plane's load). Then Pinocchio is drafted into becoming a soldier alongside other children. Both he and Candlewick barely escape that place getting bombed too.
  • Warts and All: Pinocchio isn't perfect and he's constantly made aware of his imperfections (particularly in comparison to Gepetto's deceased son Carlo). He just wants to be accepted and loved despite these imperfections, and eventually Gepetto realizes this and reciprocates.
  • Was Once a Man: There are some hints that Pinocchio is a resurrected Carlo with him knowing the song Geppetto used to sing and Death saying she thinks Pinocchio has been in the afterlife before.
  • We All Die Someday: The film concludes with all the remaining protagonists growing old and passing away, until only Pinocchio is left. Sebastian believes that, even though Pinocchio is The Ageless, he will still die one day, because all people do.
  • We Are as Mayflies: Death tells Pinocchio that one of the things that makes human life worth living is how short it is. Sure enough, in the epilogue, Geppetto dies of old age, as eventually do Sebastian and Spazzatura. It's ambiguous as to whether Pinocchio will follow suit.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Candlewick's only real goal in life is the love and approval of his father. However, after the Podestà orders him to shoot Pinocchio, Candlewick realizes nothing he's ever done has been good enough to truly appease him and it never will be, and defies him.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's unclear if Candlewick survives the bombing raid that kills the Podestà. He's shown to have survived the specific bomb that killed his father, but he may have been killed by the subsequent explosions.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Pinocchio is a wooden boy who cannot die, instead being sent to the afterlife for a small period of time before being sent back. But as Death states, this makes life less meaningful, and someday he'll watch all his friends and family go without him to the other side. Sure enough, this happens at the end, with Pinocchio losing all of his family one by one before departing for parts unknown. Sebastian remains optimistic that he'll die for real and see them all again, though.
  • Worth It: Pinocchio mocking Mussolini to his face by repeatedly calling him a piece of poop predictably gets him executed on the spot, but since he knows by this point that his death won't be permanent, he treats it as a minor inconvenience, whereas Volpe is publicly humiliated and loses everything as a result. Upon finding himself back in the afterlife, Pinocchio is almost disturbingly cheerful about the whole affair.

"Whatever happens, happens. And then... we are gone."


Video Example(s):


"...and then, we are gone."

True to Death's earlier warning, Pinocchio outlives all his loved ones, burying them one by one before wandering the Earth alone. But Sebastian says that maybe someday, he'll die and see everyone again.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / EverybodyDiesEnding

Media sources: