As “Pinocchio” returns with a live action version directed by Robert Zemeckis on Disney+, a look back at Carlo Collodi’s dark and depressive tale.
The tale of Pinocchio has been adapted many times and in several forms on the screens. There is the better known version, that of Walt Disneyreleased in 1940. Other films aimed at children, such as the one directed by Roberto Benigni for example. There are also much darker re-reads. The most recentdirected by Matteo Garrone, dates from 2020.
You can even find horror movies, like Pinocchio’s revenge. A Z series not really glorious, but crazy enough to arouse curiosity. Strangely, these more macabre visions of the Italian tale are the closest to the original story.
A FAR FROM WISE BOY
Pinocchio is based on a story called The Adventures of Pinnochio, a masterpiece of children’s literature written by Carlo Collodi and published between 1881 and 1882 as a series in an Italian newspaper. In this Italian literary work which is one of the most sold in the 20th century in the country, we find the trio of the film, namely the puppet, Geppetto and Jiminy Cricket, which has a much less important role than in the Disney film, and only appears in Chapter 4.
In the tale, Pinocchio is a horrible rascal, who always does as he pleases, lies all the time of course and disobeys adults. Worse, he doesn’t seem to learn or retain any lessons from his misadventures. He has no regard for Jiminy Cricket, to the point of throwing a hammer at him, which crushes him. Radical.
Later in his journey, he inadvertently burns his feet: “As he no longer had the strength to stand, Pinocchio sat down on a small stool and put his two feet on the stove to dry them. He eventually fell asleep, and his wooden feet began to burn in his sleep. Slowly, very slowly they blackened and turned to ashes.”
Geppetto may lovingly build new feet for him, but Pinocchio runs away from his home just as dryly. Poor Geppetto even finds himself arrested and imprisoned, after Pinocchio claims that the old man mistreated him…
A VERY VIOLENT END
Another important change: the character of Monstro, described in the tale as a kind of huge white shark, called “the Attila of fish and fishermen”. In Disney’s version, it’s a huge right whale ogling Moby Dick. A way also for Disney to slip a nod to the famous whale of Jonas, which appears in the writings of the Old Testament.
We also find Jiminy Cricket later in the story, this time as a ghost, who tries (again!) to dissuade Pinocchio from following the advice of shady individuals, who claim that planting in the ground gold coins can grow a golden tree… Of course, the unbearable puppet doesn’t care, to the point of ending up hanged by these sinister individuals:
“They chased after him and eventually caught him. They then tied a rope around his neck, and hung him from a tree, saying to him, ‘When we return tomorrow, you will be dead and your mouth open, and that is when we will take the pieces of gold that you have hidden under your tongue.'”
Originally, this end, of a crazy darkness, was to end the story of Carlo Collodi. But the editor of the newspaper in which the tale was published frowned, to the point of asking the author to review his copy by changing the ending, which he wanted to be lighter and more optimistic. Hence the idea of the blue fairy, who saves the puppet from certain death.