“Once upon a time a poor wood carver named Geppetto lived in a country across the sea. He was little and old and he was lonely.”
So begins my copy of Pinocchio, given to me on my birthday 65 years ago when I lived in Mbeya, Tanganyika. The original story of Pinocchio was published in 1883 by Carlo Collodi of Florence. Little did Carlo realise that he had created a masterpiece that would resonate with children through the ages. Who has not heard about how the astonished puppet’s nose grew longer with each lie he told?
Pinocchio has been adapted and translated into over 300 languages and Wikipedia says it is the most translated non-religious book in the world and one of the best-selling books ever published with over 800 million copies sold.
Tonight, my husband and I went to the movies to see the 2019 film of Pinocchio, written and directed by Matteo Garrone and the featured film of our Italian Film Festival.
We booked our seats at the cinema complex in the East End of Adelaide which, being a Saturday night, was busy as anything, as busy as it used to be. Not a mask in sight. I said to my husband that we must be in one of the only places in the world where everyone is quite so relaxed. Long may this last.
We have no new cases today – but 3 active cases (returning travellers).
This version of Pinocchio was not a film for young children, in fact, I think it will be most appreciated by adults … magnificently filmed in Tuscany, Italy. It is a dark version of the tale, decidedly not a cute retelling. It also depicts poverty-stricken villages in Italy of the late 19C. At the same time the scenery and filming are spectacular. Digital manipulation was not used – instead prosthetic make-up brought the fantastic characters to life. I need to see the film again to fully appreciate the cinematography.
I remember well, as a child, being disturbed when all the little recalcitrant school boys were turned into donkeys – when they first found that their ears had grown hairy and large and they could not talk.
“And while they were still giggling at one another, they found they now had hooves for feet, and tails. They opened their mouths, but they could only bray.”
I remember the shock when the crippled donkey – aka Pinocchio – was thrown into the sea with a stone tied to his neck. In this new film this is graphically shown. It did not worry me when Pinocchio was swallowed by a huge dogfish, after all I knew about Jonah and the Whale and it was safe and warm in the stomach of the fish! You could even light a fire!
Could a flock of woodpeckers visit the White House? Daily?
The story of Pinocchio is the story of a journey into adulthood, into responsibility, the story of our human condition. In this age of ‘fake’ news and blatant lies told by leaders of our Western democracies, it is even more poignant to watch a film about the consequences of deception. If only our world leaders could suffer some sort of immediate retribution for their lack of honesty.
And, BTW, we all sometimes need a Kind Fairy with Turquoise Hair …