Guillermo del Toro’s 3D stop motion adaptation of the Carlo Collodi fairy tale moves into production

Back in 2008 it was revealed that Guillermo del Toro was to develop a dark update of the Pinocchio fairy tale. The director was to collaborate with The Jim Henson Company to make a stop-motion version of the story, which was animated by Walt Disney in 1940. Two years on, the project is finally moving into production. Deadline received the accompanying photos from Del Toro to help convey the proposed look of the film.

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Directing alongside Mark Gustafson (The Fantastic Mr. Fox’s director of animation) will be Gris Grimly, who illustrated the 2002 book of the classic fairy tale on which the movie is based. The adaptation is aimed at an audience 10 years and up, and will be a bit edgier than the Disney film.

“There has to be darkness in any fairy tale or children’s narrative work, something the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson and Walt Disney understood We tend to call something Disney-fied, but a lot of people forget how powerfully disturbing the best animated Disney movies are, including those kids being turned into donkeys in ‘Pinocchio.’ What we’re trying to do is present a Pinocchio that is more faithful to the take that Colodi wrote. That is more surreal and slightly darker than what we’ve seen before.

The Blue Fairy is really a dead girl’s spirit. Pinocchio has strange moments of lucid dreaming bordering on hallucinations, with black rabbits. The sperm whale that swallows Pinocchio was actually a giant dogfish, which allows for more classical scale and design. The many mishaps Pinocchio goes through include several near-death close calls, a lot more harrowing moments. The key with this is not making any of it feel gratuitous, because the story is integrated with moments of comedy and beauty. He’s one of the great characters, whose purity and innocence allows him to survive in this bleak landscape of robbers and thugs, emerging from the darkness with his soul intact.”

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In addition, rocker and composer Nick Cave has signed on as a music consultant, and MacKinnon and Saunders (the team behind projects like Fantastic Mr. Fox, Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie) will be working on the stop-motion puppets and 3D elements of the film.

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