- Pinocchio dir. by Enzo D’Alò
During the whole period of its long existence, the story of Pinocchio has seduced and enchanted writers, poets, artists, photographers, actors, and filmmakers (the story was first issued in magazine installments 134 years ago, and the first installment appeared on Thursday, July 7, 1881, a holiday for Italian children). This explains why Enzo D’Alò, one of the rare high-level professionals of the European cinematographic landscape producing top-quality animated films, decided to deal with this story, which is also one of the most fertile myths of literary history.
It is not the first time that D’Alò has produced a film based on children’s literature. He began his career in 1996 with the cartoon La Freccia Azzurra (The Blue Arrow; the English title is How the Toys Saved Christmas), based on the novel of the same title by Gianni Rodari. In 1998 he created a brilliantly animated version of the famous Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly by Luis Sepúlveda (La gabbianella e il gatto; also known as The Little Seagull and the Cat or by its English title, Lucky and Zorba). Then, in 2001, he transposed Michael Ende’s novel Momo (1973) into a full-length animated feature film: Momo alla conquista del tempo (Momo, The Conquest of Time). Pinocchio appeared in 2012, after a twelve-year gestation period filled with studies, research, hesitations, and new beginnings. It was D’Alò’s fourth literary transposition, with the precious cooperation of the well-known Italian cartoonist and illustrator Lorenzo Mattotti, who created the characters and extraordinary settings. [End Page 142]
The result is a joyful and passionate, albeit not exactly flawless, cartoon. D’Alò is successful in bringing to the big screen the friendly, free, and wild marionette Pinocchio, constantly erring through appealing Tuscan landscapes, together with the whole repertoire of Carlo Collodi’s extraordinary characters: the Cat and the Fox, Mangiafoco, the dog Alidoro, and the Green Fisherman. The complexity of the original plot, however, poses significant problems in D’Alò’s version of Pinocchio, where the narration remains suspended and unfinished. The least convincing aspect is the screenplay, which seems weak and disaggregated. The marionette’s adventures are hilarious and entertaining, but the narration lacks incisiveness and cohesion. In several sequences there is no trace of Collodi’s original ambivalent storytelling, and only in a few funny gags does D’Alò’s typical narrative vitality emerge (e.g., Pinocchio’s dialogue with Mangiafoco).
The opening scene of the movie shows a child, little Geppetto, who is happily flying a kite. At a certain point, the kite flies away. Only many years later will it reappear and land on Geppetto’s attic window. Geppetto is now an old and lonely man, but this sudden touch of color, which has come back into his life after so many years, awakens his unexpected wish for paternity. He carves a piece of talking wood, dresses it with the kite paper, and draws its eyes, mouth, and nose. This is how he gives life to Pinocchio’s adventures. The movie is based on the marionette’s continuous escapes and on loving, careful, and sweet Geppetto’s search for his wildly naïve son.
D’Alò’s protagonist is quite similar to the original Pinocchio: untamed and unpredictable in his actions, words, and thoughts. He wanders about in a breathtaking Tuscan landscape, running back and forth, as fast as a hare, swimming like a fish, reaching vertiginous heights on the back of pigeons. He meets wonderful and surreal characters, who interact with his lighthearted and wild temper and, at the same time, his profound humanity. Geppetto’s house is simply the place where Pinocchio’s basic needs (eating, sleeping, and finding a shelter) are satisfied. There is no rest in his never-ending and wonderful peregrination.
And this is the point. When Collodi created Pinocchio’s fantastic adventures, he gave origin to an extremely effective dialogue between...