In this section of our Colossus Movie Guide for Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, we look at important motifs that help us understand the film.
Important motifs in Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
The very first visual in Pinocchio is the pine cone emerging from the darkness. And the last is of a pinecone falling from the branch. Narration from Sebastian J. Cricket accompanies both. Initially, it’s Sebastian discussing Geppetto mourning Carlo’s passing, which seems to suggest a theme of death and grief. This is confirmed at the end when Sebastian says “What happens, happens. And then we’re gone.” The dialogue is overtop of the last shot of the pinecone and its drop from the branch, out of the frame. It’s a simple dramatization of the way in which people come and go from this world. We grow on the branch, we hang on for as long as possible. Then we go.
Carlo even finds a pinecone that Geppetto buries with the boy, furthering the symbolism of the pinecone as a metaphor for a person’s life.
The hourglass in Death’s kingdom
A conversation regarding human mortality often comes back to the idea of time. And as Guillermo del Toro uses Pinocchio to reflect on the idea of a young person coming to appreciate how limited our time is, the hourglass is an important symbol. At first, Pinocchio doesn’t think much of it, because he believes time is a luxury. But eventually it’s something he realizes he needs every second of.
Guillermo del Toro sets Pinocchio during the Great War—World War I. del Toro often portrays causes that are interested in the good of the people versus those that are selfish and dictatorial. Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape of Water are two examples. In Pinocchio, there’s a bit of drama around what kind of person Pinocchio will be. Initially, he’s wild and selfish and only interested in what he wants to do. Which is why he joins Count Volpe’s puppet show—to be a star. That decision leads Pinocchio literally into the army of Mussolini, dictator of Italy. This connects an individual’s decisions to the larger zeitgeist of the country and the larger zeitgeist of a country to an individual’s decisions.
When Pinocchio stops being selfish and begins connecting with others and wanting to make them happy, his life turns around for the better. He escapes the fascist army and begins to make a positive impact on others.
What are your thoughts?
Are there more motifs you think should be part of the Colossus Movie Guide for Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio? Leave your thoughts below and we’ll consider them for the guide.
I think you mistakenly wrote “France” instead of “Italy” when you wrote about Mussolini 🙂
Yes! Thank you!