Move over, Disney, there’s a new Pinocchio in town. The trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s take on the classic tale is here, and the gorgeously rendered stop-motion animation couldn’t be more different than the 1940 cartoon or the upcoming live-action remake.
Ewan McGregor’s Sebastian J. Cricket sums up the thesis of the Netflix film quite nicely: “From my many wanderings on this earth, I had so much to say about imperfect fathers and imperfect sons, and about loss and love.” Gepetto (David Bradley) is a woodcarver mourning the death of his son, so he carves a puppet out of a tree growing above the boy’s grave. An “old spirit” gives the puppet life, and thus Pinocchio (Gregory Mann), “the wooden boy with the borrowed soul,” is born.
“It’s a story you may think you know, but you don’t,” Sebastian warns in the trailer. And that’s certainly true: This Pinocchio is growing up in 1930s Italy amidst rising fascism, “in an environment in which citizens behave with obedient, almost puppet-like faithfulness,” del Toro told Vanity Fair.
“Many times the fable has seemed, to me, in favor of obedience and domestication of the soul,” the filmmaker explained to the outlet. “Blind obedience is not a virtue. The virtue Pinocchio has is to disobey. At a time when everybody else behaves as a puppet—he doesn’t. Those are the interesting things, for me. I don’t want to retell the same story. I want to tell it my way and in the way I understand the world.”
And one of those ways is dropping the whole “real boy” schtick: “To me, it’s essential to counter the idea that you have to change into a flesh-and-blood child to be a real human,” del Toro said. “All you need to be human is to really behave like one, you know? I have never believed that transformation [should] be demanded to gain love.”
Del Toro co-directs the film with Mark Gustafson from a script co-written by del Toro and Patrick McHale. Additional cast includes Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton, Finn Wolfhard, Ron Perlman, Tim Blake Nelson, Burn Gorman, Cate Blanchett and John Turturro. Pinocchio will debut in theaters in November before streaming on Netflix in December.