Pinocchio is very successful: the puppet, the puppet child, the special effect like the makeup are striking, the human woodwork has a beautiful design. Pinocchio the film, a new version of Collodi’s tale by Matteo Garrone (after Disney, Comencini, Benigni, and Del Toro in anticipation), is not that successful. Geppetto is less talented than technical, the FX are flawless, bumpy, like the film, which is also the limit.
The theme he chose fell in these times of economic and social depression, however timely. Especially since it is not what we think. This Pinocchio– It doesn’t care much about the lie, it is not the subject even though the film concedes a scene (only one) of nose with extension, with small birds spawning: the thing is settled. His real subject, which finds the universe in rags of this XIXe century when the tale was written, it is misery, and all that relates to it: violence, greed, gullibility. Depending on whether one is powerful or miserable, lies on the contrary are highly recommended here. In the event of an immediate appearance before such a judge as an old funny face – or if you want to eat your fill, and in short survive.
Bone. From the foreground, very beautiful, where Geppetto (Benigni) bursts the slab by scraping-sculpting-digging a cheese crust to eat the last crumb, hunger is the bone of the film, the real thread. Garrone makes poverty salient, despite the rich stuff of the fable and the budget of the film, by its tangible signs: the hunger of the poor and the greedy greed of the poor – who are sometimes the same, or who eat each other. Everyone is starving except Pinocchio. The lie not characterizing the rascal, any more than being of wood: this world in which our Pinocchio new way evolves is not moved more than that. On the contrary, it is a very non-specificity that makes it special: not to be hungry. Unlike everyone who abuses or harbors it. Because of wood. Garrone therefore signs an immense tale of hunger, ordinary and extraordinary, with bizarre naturalism a la Charles Dickens and a logical delirium a la Lewis Carroll – sperm whales which engulf everything and anyone, with two hunger-dead, the Fox and Cat, scoundrels who only swindle, steal, hang high and short to find food.
Emotions. What moves Pinocchio then is finding something to feed Dad and Geppetto is no longer hungry. But he, the puppet, is irresistibly attracted to his fellows, “I burattini”, the show, the circus, the monsters … and the tales. Its initiation will be at the cost of entertainment. This entertainment which diverts him from the duty to educate himself and pushes him to a bushy life which turns him into a donkey. Become a bambino, a real “child”, his dream will be for Pinocchio to learn hunger.
Beautiful work, as they say. Licked and smooth, Pinocchio without splinters. It’s watchable, like all movies by default, i.e. without any flaws. One thinks of Ermanno Olmi and the earthly heaviness of this cinema. But here rubbed into the world of storytelling. Moments (donkey, sperm whale) stand out which restore the emotions that the child, the story had been able to provoke, this compassion and this terror.
Pinocchio of Matteo Garrone with Roberto Benigni, Federico Ielapi… 2 h 05, on Amazon Prime Video.