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  • Writer's pictureAndy Ross

Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio

The story of “Pinocchio” has been adapted many times since its origins in an Italian children’s novel published in 1883. There have been many versions of the story made for the screen, both big and small, with the most famous of these being the 1940 animated film from Disney. A new animated adaptation of the story came out recently from celebrated director Guillermo Del Toro, a passion project the director had been working on for over a decade.

“Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio,” (that’s the full title) was produced in conjunction with Netflix and received a limited theatrical run before premiering on the popular streaming platform, this is one reason why the film was able to be nominated for and win, last year’s Oscar for Best Animated Feature. The film follows the beats of the “Pinocchio” story we’ve all been so familiar with but it adds a wonderful new layer of depth by having the story take place in fascist Italy.

What truly impresses me about this version of “Pinocchio” is the stop motion animation, it is one of the most visually stunning movies I’ve ever seen, let alone animated. I often found myself dazzled at how what I was seeing was pulled off. With an all-star voice cast that includes Ewan McGregor, Cate Blanchett, and Christoph Waltz, the visuals combined with the updates in the storytelling make for a moving, powerful film that truly creates a unique, cinematic experience.

Last year, with a large number of movies and TV shows disappearing from the streaming platforms they were made for, we were reminded once again of the value of physical media. It’s rare for movies and shows from streaming services to get a physical media release, so it’s very nice indeed that The Criterion Collection was able to work again with Netflix to bring “Pinocchio” to disc in both regular blu-ray and 4K UHD blu-ray editions, the latter of which I was very kindly sent to check out. (Someone do “Glass Onion” next, please.)

“Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio” was shot digitally and this director-approved edition from Criterion brings the film sourced from a 4K digital master, approved by both GDT and his co-director Mark Gustafson. On the 4K disc, the image is presented in Dolby Vision and it’s stunning. The colors, the depth, and the detail, all make for a fantastic visual presentation.

The audio is a Dolby Atmos track, I don’t have the equipment to play Atmos tracks in my home theater, but all Atmos tracks on disc are designed to “fold down” with regular surround sound equipment. It’s a fine-sounding track played back in regular 5.1, and I suspect would be even more impressive in full Atmos should your system support it.

As usual, Criterion has supplied an extensive amount of special features. Three programs look at the making of the movie, plus several videos of conversations with the filmmakers, in particular a wonderful one featuring GDT with critic Farran Smith Nehme. There’s a look at MOMA’s exhibit on the making of the film, and a few panel discussions, one led by author Neil Gaiman, and another by director James Cameron.

It’s an impressive and thorough amount of material, one could easily spend hours just exploring the bonus features. All-in-all, it makes for a fantastic home video presentation of one of the best-animated features to come along in many years. There’s a standard that Criterion releases are held to, especially when it comes to the release of contemporary films, this is another fantastic release from the celebrated label, and one that should have a place in your film library. Highly recommended. See you next week.


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