Guillermo del Toro Talks Pinocchio, Favorite Scenes & Future Projects

Dec 11, 2022

After well over a decade of exhaustive efforts, Academy Award-winner Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson are finally able to present the world with their stop-motion masterpiece, Pinocchio. The collaboration sings onscreen, with both filmmakers possessing a rich darkness to their work, from del Toro’s gothic fantasia in Pan’s Labyrinth, to Gustafson’s grim fairytale stop-motion work on Return to Oz and whimsical direction in Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Though the tale is timeless, co-writer del Toro, along with Patrick McHale (Adventure Time), refashioned this 1800s fairytale into an emotional and touching screenplay set in the 1930s Fascist Italy. This retelling isn’t a rehash of old material, but a story full of heart, with tireless craftsmanship from a village of artists. On top of the stop-motion animation, Pinocchio is backed by an ensemble cast of vocal talent including Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, Tilda Swinton, Cate Blanchett, Christoph Waltz and many more.
With Pinocchio receiving a limited theatrical release and streaming exclusively on Netflix, Collider’s Steve Weintraub spoke with both directors on the making of the film. During their interview, they both shared which scenes hold special places in their hearts that they’re excited for viewers to see, and a couple of moments that didn’t make it into the movie. They also discuss how stop-animation has evolved over the years, how their collaboration worked on Pinocchio, whether we’ll be seeing another team-up in the coming years, and if del Toro is returning with a second season of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities for Netflix. Check out all of that and more in the video above, or you can read the full transcript down below.

COLLIDER: There are so many incredible sequences in this film that I’m curious, is there one particular sequence that you truly are looking forward to audiences seeing just because of the way the animators did something, or whatever the reason?

GUSTAFSON: Well, there’s a couple of them. I know what yours is, which I share, but there’s another one. It’s the whole sequence in the bedroom where Geppetto puts Pinocchio to bed, and before that he puts Carlo to bed. It’s just so beautifully animated. It’s so tender, and I think it reads so true, and all that stuff was done by one animator. He spent two years in that bedroom, and I think the beauty of that, not for him perhaps, but for the audience, is that he was really able to just sink completely into that scene.


GUSTAFSON: It’s only a few minutes long at most, but he spent two years on it and just nailed it, I think.

DEL TORO: I think that the other thing that is beautiful is they are visually staged very similar, so you know that Geppetto is saying goodnight to two different sons, and when he’s turning off the light, he cannot call Pinocchio a son yet. So it’s a beautiful moment of character. To me, the best for me, right now today, is going to be the talk in the church between Geppetto and Pinocchio.


DEL TORO: Where they discuss Christ and Pinocchio in [a] single discussion. Not only from a writing point of view, and an animation point of view, but from a visual point of view, I think that set of the church and the way [cinematographer Frank Passingham] lit it, the way it was animated, the precision of the screenplay is just a perfect scene.

Image via Netflix

Guillermo, I know we’ve discussed many times your love of keeping things from the movies you make. I’m curious, with this particular project, how did you let anything go?

DEL TORO: With age, I have come to accept that I’m getting only 20 puppets. I have found a great maturity.

But also, the sets.

DEL TORO: Yeah, well the sets, it is hard to let go of those, but I have only limited real estate.

GUSTAFSON: It comes [with] great responsibility with owning those puppets because you have to take care of them.

DEL TORO: I will say this, if you allow it, anybody that lives in the New York area can actually come, and for a few hours be in front of the sets at MOMA on the exhibit of the Art of Pinocchio. You see the real sets, the real puppets with real light lit by Frank, our cinematographer, and you get a really close experience to what it is to animate a film. It’s a beautiful, very large exhibit that is going to be here for a few months.

Mark, I believe that you were the head animator on Fantastic Mr. Fox.

GUSTAFSON: Yeah, I was the animation director on that one, yeah.

I’m curious, has the art form changed at all in the years since making that film, or is stop-motion pretty much the exact same as it’s been throughout time?

GUSTAFSON: It’s evolved a little bit. The technology keeps moving forward to make the process a little bit easier and a little bit faster, but it doesn’t get easier or faster because what you do is you take that technology and you think, “Oh, I can do this, so why can’t I do more?”

I think that’s probably true of most undertakings. Once you have the tools, you want to push them right up to the limit. Although with Pinocchio, we weren’t really trying to push the edge of this technology. It was more about the emotion and the story than the technique.

DEL TORO: We actually went back into mechanical puppets, largely, rather than printed faces, which was the tendency at the time.

GUSTAFSON: It helped the animators. The mechanical faces really give the animators more control over the performance and, thusly, we can get subtler things sometimes.

Image via Netflix

Was there anything that you guys strongly disagreed on during the making of the film, or was it always pretty much eye-to-eye on everything?

DEL TORO: No, no. There were difficult moments. We liked the sequence, the shooting squad. It was hard to let go of that one.

GUSTAFSON: No, I don’t think so. There was a chess-playing sequence that we shot all of, essentially, which was beautiful.

DEL TORO: Beautiful.

GUSTAFSON: Really, really nice animation, and very funny, and ultimately, we cut it because it just interrupted the flow.

DEL TORO: That hurt.

GUSTAFSON: That hurt.

DEL TORO: There’s one shot at the end when Pinocchio is swimming above water that Mark had convinced me we should cut, and I still wake up in the middle of the night going, “Ah, we should have that shot.”

Actually, I’m joking. We have an incredibly organic collaboration, and gentle. Neither of us [had] a moment of a Rubicon. We understood why things needed to go.

Image via Vanity Fair/Netflix

I have to ask you, as a fan of the way you two work together on this, is there talk between the two of you of doing another stop-motion movie together, or is it like, this takes so much out of you, you need to take a break?

DEL TORO: Mark is already preparing his own project.


DEL TORO: Right?


DEL TORO: I’m already writing. I’m preparing my next live-action project, so the answer is no, but I like him.

Guillermo, an individual question for you. I thought Cabinet of Curiosities was so well done, and I think it did well on Netflix, but I don’t know. Is there any talk of doing more episodes?

DEL TORO: We got the thing I published on Twitter about a billion views, or whatever that is. It is a very mysterious process to get the yes or the no. Either way is good news for me because producing eight features in one year was really, really difficult. I would love to provide another season to get some really interesting people behind the camera, protected, and cherished, but on the other hand, I have a feature coming that I will start shooting probably in August, announcement soon to come, and I know it would be very difficult. If they say yes, we’ll make the effort and do it, but if they say no, I’ll go almost, “Phew.”

Pinocchio is available to stream exclusively on Netflix, and is available to see in limited theaters. You can check for showtimes near you here.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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