In this section of the Colossus Movie Guide for Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, we will explain the film’s ending.
- Pinocchio – Gregory Mann
- Carlo – Gregory Mann
- Geppetto – David Bradley
- Sebastian J. Cricket – Ewan McGregor
- Count Volpe – Christoph Waltz
- Spazzatura – Cate Blanchett
- Podestà – Ron Perlman
- Candlewick – Finn Wolfhard
- The Wood Sprite – Tilda Swinton
- Death – Tilda Swinton
- Written by – Guillermo del Toro, Patrick McHale
- Directed by – Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson
The end of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio explained
Pinocchio has three final sequences. The beach scene. The return home. And Sebastian’s J. Cricket’s card playing in the afterlife.
The beach scene is the aftermath of the escape from the sea monster whale. To defeat this monster, Pinocchio detonates a naval mine. It works, but Pinocchio dies in the process. He appears in the afterlife and urges death to let him go back immediately so he can save Geppetto and the others. Even though Pinocchio doesn’t have to wait long, every second counts. The cost of returning early is the loss of Pinocchio’s immortality. He’ll awaken mortal. He takes the deal, awakens, and, with only one arm, manages to save Geppetto from drowning. Unfortunately, in the process, Pinocchio drowns.
During the beach scene, the Wood Sprite returns. Sebastian J. Cricket uses the wish Wood Sprite promised him to resurrect Pinocchio. Everyone is happy. The newly forged family returns to Geppetto’s cottage where they spend their days in peace and joy. Geppetto passes. Sebasian. And lastly Spazzatura. Pinocchio visits their graves. Then goes off into the world. Sebastian narrates, “What happens, happens. And then we are gone” as a pinecone falls from a tree branch.
One final moment interrupts the beginning of the credits. It’s Sebastian in the afterlife, playing cards with a bunch of skeletal rabbits. After they interrupt him, he says, “Do you mind? I was recounting my life!” To which a rabbit says, “It was a good life.” Sebastian responds, “Ah, good enough.” Then commences a dance number that plays out through the credits.
As much as Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is about many things, it emphasizes appreciating a decent life. Geppetto had a happy, simple life with Carlo. Then lost Carlo and lost his happy, simple life. When Pinocchio first wakes up, he’s pretty crazy. And selfish. And can’t appreciate the simple. Which is why he’s lured away by the idea of fame and everything fame promises. It’s exactly that experience and how horrible it is that allows Pinocchio to appreciate simply spending time with Geppetto, Sebastian, and Spazzatura.
The character arc of Sebastian reinforces this point. Sebastian begins the movie as this self-interested wanna-be writer. When the Wood Sprite tells him she’ll eventually grant a wish for him, his first reflections are, “And that could be anything? The publication of my book? Fame? Fortune?” He too is interested in something grander than the simple. But when it comes time to make his wish, its for Pinocchio’s life.
The key key key thing is that last line, in the afterlife. When the rabbit says, “It was a good life” about Sebastian’s recounting. And Sebastian says, “Ah, good enough.” Good enough can be a hard thing to appreciate. Because almost all of us want more. We’re usually dreaming of that next thing that will be the breakthrough. That inner monologue of, “If I just do this, then…” Then what? You’ll have a nicer car? A bigger house? Hit 1,000,000 subscribers on YouTube? Change the world? Even if you have the car, the house, the career—is it a good life? Is it any better than someone who has less stuff but more time with those they love?
Sebastian never writes his book. He never became a famous author. But he lived a life that was good enough. Because it was spent with people he cared about and who cared about him. And there’s something wonderful about that. It’s a reminder to people young and old that your life may not end up exactly as you envisioned or dreamed, and that’s okay. It can still be enough. More isn’t automatically better. And less isn’t a curse. What’s more important are the relationships we have along the way.
Another primary topic here is just a basic acceptance of death. We’re all like the pinecone on the tree branch. We grow. We hang on for as long as we can. We fall. That’s the cycle. And sometimes we fall early and it’s terrible, like with Carlo. Other times we come to the natural end of our days, and it’s still sad but in a different way. It’s something earned rather than something lost. All we can really do is cherish what time and experiences we had. Because they were ours.
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