Puppets in ' Pinocchio.' Guillermo del Toro explores fascism, figurines in the animated version of this great classic.

''In our story, Pinocchio is an innocent soul with an uncaring father who gets lost in a world he cannot comprehend,'' director del Toro said in an earlier statement to the Reuters.

''He embarks on an extraordinary journey that leaves him with a deep understanding of his father and the real world. I've wanted to make this movie for as long as I can remember.''

When Guillermo del Toro first set out to make a dark animated version of Pinocchio 15 years ago, he opted to set his tale puppets and their string-pulling masters in 1930s fascist Italy. 

The characters of elderly woodcarver Geppetto and his exuberant living puppet Pinocchio were first created in 1883 novel and later popularised by Disney, reported AFP.

But in Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio, out on Netflix next month, they find themselves living in Benito Mussolini inter-war world of military salutes, strict conformity and violent machismo. ''I wanted [to set the film in] a moment in which behaving like a puppet was a good thing,'' del Toro told AFP on the red carpet of this weekend's AFI Fest in Hollywood.

''I wanted Pinocchio to be disobedient,'' he added. ''I wanted Pinocchio, who was the only puppet, to act like a puppet. I thought, thematically, that was perfect.''

While the theme of fascism could appear timely in light of recent global politics, del Toro said the movie was just as relevant when he conceived the project years ago, Indeed del Toro has previously used distinctive Gothic fairy tales to tackle the spectre of fascism with films such as Pan's Labyrinth and The Devil's Backbone, both set in Franco-era Spain.

''It is something that concerns me because it's something that humanity seems to come back to,'' he said. ''I've always seen it. I don't know if it's the colour of my glasses, but I always see it.''

''Fascism is always alive in the background - or in the foreground,'' he said.

The Oscar-winning Mexican director pitched his version of Pinocchio to Hollywood studios and producers for years before streaming giant Netflix finally bought the rights in 2018.

''I've been fighting to make it for half my career,'' said del Toro. The movie required over 1,000 days of filming.

It uses the painstaking method of stop-motion animation, in which puppets are carefully manipulated frame-by-frame to create the illusion of movement. For del Toro, using computer-generated imagery -like Disney's own recent live-action remake of its previous, seminal 1940 animation - was never an option.

''It was very pertinent for me to make a story about a puppet with puppets, and the puppets believe they are not puppets,'' he stated. ''It is a very beautiful sort of kaleidoscope, telescoping thing.''

While del Toro has long been fascinated by animation, he won his Oscars for best director and best picture with 2017's live-action The Shape of Water, and Pinocchio marks his first animated feature film.

''In North America, the animation is seen as a genre for kids a little more,'' said del Toro. ''One of the things that I think everybody is trying to change, not just us, is to say, 'Animation is a film, the animation is acting, the animation is art.' ''

Stop-motion animation can ''touch upon profoundly moving, profoundly spiritual things,'' but it is ''a practice that is constantly on the verge of extinction,'' he said. '' It's only kept alive by crazy fanatics ........ we keep it alive!''

The World Students Society thanks News Desk, The Express Tribune.


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