‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ Ending, Explained: Did Pinocchio Become A Good Boy?

Directed by Guillermo del Toro, “Pinocchio,” is an illustrious reimagining of the classic children’s fable from Carlo Collodi and a perfect example of how one puts their own “spin” on something beloved. An emotional tale of humanity and a cheerful ode to defiance that might as well be GDT’s magnum opus in the form of breathtaking stop-motion animation, which puts Disney’s scandalous revisitation of the year to shame. While the classic tale gives the cautionary message of doing right to become a “real boy” to children, Del Toro’s masterpiece, fifteen years in the making, takes the story up a notch with a tale filled with grief and disobedience. Over the course of the film, we see the director explore the love between a father and son through many characters and their unique expectations. A story that defines the titular character as an “individual” due to his uniqueness rather than an unruly boy who needs to learn to be truthful and identical to other boys to become a “real person” himself takes on a new existence in Mussolini’s fascist Italy. In fact, “Pinocchio” drifts far from the classic right from the get-go, with the wooden boy never wishing to be a real boy and dying about four or five times in the one-hour, fifty-odd minute film. Del Toro, who claimed he made this film for his team and himself only, has created what may be one of his best works, bringing a nostalgic but newly ‘crafted’ film for adults who may still enjoy an animated tale in their busy lives.

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Spoilers Ahead


‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?

As the classic tale follows, we meet an old man, Geppetto, and his cherished son, Carlo, who are each other’s everything. It is war-struck Italy, and Geppetto and Carlo’s small town are suddenly hit by bombs that were dropped out of inconvenience and not to target the town. Carlo is lost in this attack, leaving Geppetto shattered for years. Years pass until one day; he drunkenly decides to build a “Carlo,” a wooden boy who could replace his son, from a pine tree he grew in memory of his dead son. A talking cricket named Sebastian, who created his home in this pine tree, follows the man to tell him to stop ruining his home. Geppetto finishes the wooden toy and falls asleep. The next day, he wakes up and is surprised by the noise in his home, where he lives alone. As he ventures towards the noise, he is aghast to see the wooden toy he created in a drunken daze to be alive and speaking, not just that, but calling him papa. To add to his surprise, Sebastian, the ‘talking’ cricket, tells him that the boy is speaking the truth. Geppetto is astounded by this and tries to run away to Church, leaving the boy alone in a cupboard at home. Defying his wishes, Pinocchio follows him to Church and excitedly introduces himself to the entire town. The townspeople call out Geppetto for witchcraft for creating a wooden boy who can talk, walk, and behave like a real human being, and the two are quickly thrown out of the Church. 

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Geppetto is confused and is then interrogated by the town’s priest and fascist Podesta (chief magistrate of a commune) working under Mussolini’s regime in 1930s Italy. They convince Geppetto that Pinocchio needs to be taken to school to learn to behave, like Podesta’s son Candlewick. While Pinocchio heads to school, he is seen by Spazzatura, the monkey of Count Volpe, a circus owner. Volpe is immediately struck with the idea of using the ‘living puppet’ in his show to make a lot of money. He tempts Pinocchio with the false premise of “stardom” and the love and pride of his father to come and join his show. Pinocchio, attracted by these ideas and tempted by the promise of hot chocolate, decides to give it a go. After his first show, the crowd showers Pinocchio with love, but when Geppetto ends up finding him there with the help of the cricket, he is disappointed with him and feels hurt that he is not like his son Carlo and doesn’t want to go to school. Pinocchio, pained by this comparison, starts to lie to Geppetto, growing his nose longer and longer and accidentally getting hit by a car. When this happens, Pinocchio ends up in an encounter with “death,” who tells him he is immortal. At this point, Geppetto and the town are trying to figure out if he’s still alive or not, concluding that he may be dead. He awakes right then, and Podesta decides he is the “soldier who can’t die” that Italy needs right now.

Count Volpe tells Geppetto that if Pinocchio doesn’t stick to his contract with the circus, he will owe him an insurmountable sum of money. Geppetto, in an overwhelming state, tells Pinocchio that he is a burden to him, causing Pinocchio to feel ashamed and hurt. He decides he needs to leave Geppetto and go back to the circus to make money and help his papa. Geppetto awakens the next morning feeling terribly sorry for his words to Pinocchio, only to realize it’s too late. He and Sebastian embark on a journey to find the boy and bring him back home. Will Geppetto be reunited with his son?

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‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ Ending Explained: Does The Immortal Boy Bring Joy And Light To Geppetto’s Grieving Life?

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio will rip your heart out and crush it with a hammer, just like Geppetto put together a wooden Carlo. Pinocchio, who dies a few times in the film, visits death one last time when he tries to save his father from the horrendous sea monster that tries to eat them all. In doing so, he blasts a mine into its mouth, resulting in Geppetto drowning from the sheer force of the blast. Pinocchio, in his fear of losing his father, tells death he needs to return much sooner than she is meant to keep him. Then death tells him he has “broken the rules,” and as a consequence, if he dies this time around, it will be permanent. Pinocchio breaks death’s hourglass without any hesitation or remorse, showcasing his true humanity, and returns to save his beloved father. 

Geppetto, reaching the shore thanks to Pinocchio, is horrified at the loss of his son yet again and is met with the wood sprite, the reason Pinocchio was alive in the first place. She tells Geppetto that she only wants to bring him happiness, which Geppetto confesses is truly what he received from Pinocchio. She tells him that she cannot bring him back because real people die real deaths, and that’s what the wooden boy was. Sebastian, who had made a deal with the wood sprite to help Pinocchio be ‘good,’ wishes for his dear friend Pinocchio to come back to life. The wood sprite grants his wish and brings the boy back to the delight of Geppetto and Sebastian. A brief moment of happiness before the melancholy ensues. While Pinocchio is immortal due to his “wooden nature,” none of the people around him are. Geppetto grows old, and one day he joins Carlo, followed by Sebastian J. Cricket, leaving us with a lumpy throat and sore eyes. This beautifully crafted film is far from ‘wooden,’ and we will definitely be revisiting it soon. 

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What Is The Main Reflection Of This Version Of The Classic Tale? How Do Father-Son Relationships Come Into Play? 

Pinocchio is a tale that reflects the message that life is a gift of wonder, but this whimsical retelling brings to notice a very real and vulnerable story of the relationship between parents and children. Geppetto’s comparison of Pinocchio to his son Carlo hurts the wooden boy deeply. Individuality seems to be the main theme of this version, and we even see Del Toro embrace Pinocchio’s defiant behavior as the defining feature of his humanity. Over the course of the movie, we also see Volpe, a character that depicts the harshness of a “parental figure” who only believes in commercializing their children and seeing what they can gain from them. Another relationship that is a wonderful reflection of the pressure of meeting your parents’ expectations is that between Candlewick and his father, the Podesta. Candlewick, in a vulnerable moment, tells Pinocchio that he would make his father believe he’s not a coward and that he would make his father like him. Pinocchio remembers the wise words of his friend Sebastian and assures him that all fathers love their sons, but sometimes they might anguish, just as anyone else, and say hurtful things that they don’t mean. Unfortunately for Candlewick, his father is a true villain, and he finally understands the true extent of his father’s atrocities as he is told to shoot his now-friend Pinocchio for no reason.


How Does Guillermo del Toro Symbolise Fascism Through Real-Life’ Puppets’?

Del Toro firmly plants “Pinocchio” in reality by including his stand against war and illuminating the idea that “people” under the fascist rule are the true puppets. He mentioned in an interview that the theme of the movie is inspired by Europe’s unrest in the period of both World War I and II, but he also makes connections between Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Pinocchio as characters who are brought to life by fathers who want an inherently “good” child who can figure out their way in the world with no qualms. “When you try your best, it is the best you can do” is the simple takeaway from this movie, clearly mentioned by Sebastian but also intrinsically present in the film throughout. It is true the Mexican director is incredibly fascinated by monsters, and while this movie contains his signature take on the creatures of our nightmares, it also brings alive our everyday monsters, resulting in a fascinating work of emotion and art.


“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” is a 2022 animated comedy drama film streaming on Netflix.

 

 

Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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