Guillermo del Toro’s PINOCCHIO*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy
The film opens with Sebastian J. Cricket (Ewan McGregor) narrating the story of the woodcarver Geppetto (David Bradley). He used to live peacefully with his son Carlo (Gregory Mann) during the outbreak of World War I, sharing stories and working on Geppetto’s creations together. One day, Geppetto is hired to build a crucifix at the church. They are forced to go home when fascist planes fly over Italy and drop bombs on nearby locations. Carlo runs back into the church for a pine cone he dropped (one that Geppetto said was perfect because it had all its scales), and a bomb drops on the church, killing the boy in front of his father.
Geppetto grieves Carlo’s loss for many years, even after he buried the pine cone in the earth and it grew into a tree over the boy’s grave. In his drunken sorrows, Geppetto chops the tree down (which Sebastian had been living in), and he brings a large log of it to his house. He begins to carve a wooden boy but leaves him unfinished (he’s missing an ear, for one). Geppetto passes out, and Sebastian is left to wander the house since he stowed away in the log.
At night, several eyeball spirits enter the house and form the body of the Wood Sprite (Tilda Swinton). With her magic, she gives life to the puppet, which she names Pinocchio (also Gregory Mann). Sebastian protests this, but the Wood Sprite requests that the Cricket guide Pinocchio in his life in exchange for a wish. He agrees, hoping to use the wish to gain fame and wealth.
Geppetto wakes up in the morning to find Pinocchio alive and playing around the house. He is freaked out at first upon seeing a talking wooden boy and a cricket, but Pinocchio expresses childlike excitement at everything he finds in the house. Geppetto has to go to church, so he locks Pinocchio in the closet and orders him to stay there. Despite Sebastian’s suggestion to do as Geppetto says, the boy’s curiosity gets the better of him, and he leaves to join Geppetto at church.
Pinocchio enters the church and reveals himself to the congregation. Everyone is horrified at the sight of a living puppet. When Pinocchio declares himself to be a real boy made of flesh and bone, his nose begins to grow. Geppetto is forced to take him home while everyone jeers and admonishes him for his creation.
Geppetto fixes Pinocchio’s nose and is later visited by the Podesta (Ron Perlman) and Priest (Burn Gorman), along with the Podesta’s son Candlewick (Finn Wolfhard). They discuss making Pinocchio a model citizen to ensure he is not a threat to society. The boy protests to Geppetto when he wants the hot chocolate that the others are drinking, and Geppetto obliges him. Pinocchio sits next to Candlewick and mimics his movements before sticking his feet in the fireplace. Although he thinks it’s fun, Geppetto scrambles to put the fire out and dips the boy into a water bucket, his legs having singed off. The Podesta orders Geppetto to send Pinocchio to school, and he agrees. When Geppetto goes to sleep, Sebastian tells Pinocchio about Carlo and how Geppetto continues to mourn him.
As Pinocchio goes to help Geppetto work at the church, he is spotted by a white monkey called Spazzatura (Cate Blanchett), who belongs to a showrunner called Count Volpe (Christoph Waltz), whose circus has seen little business in recent years. Spazzatura runs to Volpe and shows him Pinocchio, whom Volpe believes will become his newest star attraction. Pinocchio then heads to school but is intercepted by Volpe, who convinces the boy to join his circus to become famous. Pinocchio signs a contract (by drawing a smiling sun), and he joins Volpe and Spazzatura.
Pinocchio makes a good impression on Volpe’s audience as a singing puppet with no strings. Geppetto finds out from the Podesta that Pinocchio didn’t go to school, and he finds the boy at the circus. Pinocchio begins lying more, and the other kids are amused by how his nose grows. He argues with Volpe over where Pinocchio belongs, and they begin pulling on him, leading to Pinocchio flying into the street, where he is hit by a car, effectively killing him.
Pinocchio wakes up in the afterlife and finds a flock of Black Rabbits (all voiced by Tim Blake Nelson) gathered around, as they bring the deceased into this realm. They tell Pinocchio that he needs to talk to Death (also Tilda Swinton) herself in order to sort out his dilemma. Pinocchio meets Death, who is the sister of the Wood Sprite. She is annoyed that her sister gave life to Pinocchio, but she explains to him that since he is not technically a real boy, he can continue to die and come back to life over and over after certain “waiting periods.” She also tells him that he will eventually outlive everyone close to him.
Pinocchio returns to life in front of Geppetto, Volpe, the Podesta, and others. The Podesta thinks Pinocchio being immortal can make him a useful soldier in the war, but Volpe insists Pinocchio belongs to him since he signed the contract and claims that Geppetto would owe him money. Geppetto takes him home, getting into an argument with Pinocchio since he wants to join the war, and Geppetto calls him a burden. This makes him sad since he thinks Geppetto really means it, but Sebastian tries to convince him otherwise. Thinking he can help his father financially, Pinocchio runs off to join the circus, trapping Sebastian under a cup to prevent him from stopping him. Pinocchio returns to Volpe and asks that he send Pinocchio’s earnings to Geppetto, to which Volpe agrees even though he is clearly lying.
Geppetto finds Sebastian after he freed himself (but was knocked unconscious) and finds that Pinocchio has fled. After Geppetto sits to feel sorry, Sebastian tears into him about how Pinocchio gave him love and Geppetto just made him feel bad. They resolve to go and find the boy themselves. They take a boat to an island where he may be headed, but they are devoured by a sea monster.
Pinocchio continues to be a hit for Volpe’s show. Spazzatura uses marionettes to speak to Pinocchio, saying that Volpe isn’t actually sending Geppetto his money and that he is using him, while also claiming Spazzatura is his favorite. Pinocchio doesn’t believe Volpe would do that, and the count overhears. He beats Spazzatura for trying to turn Pinocchio against him, but the boy confronts Volpe for his treatment of the monkey. Volpe shows Pinocchio his true colors and says he is the master of both him and Spazzatura, threatening both of them if they try anything against him again.
Volpe puts on a show for Prime Minister Benito Mussolini (Tom Kenny), as he is said to like puppets. Pinocchio then puts on a crude display to mock Mussolini in front of Volpe as payback. While the children in the audience are amused, Mussolini is not, and he orders Pinocchio to be shot and for the circus to be burnt down. Pinocchio returns to the afterlife and waits to be revived.
Pinocchio reawakens on his way to a fascist training camp along with the Podesta and Candlewick. While there, Pinocchio befriends Candlewick, as he reveals his feelings towards his father for how he is trying to mold him into his image and fight in an unnecessary war. They play a game of Capture The Flag using paintball guns and have fun doing it, but when they announce that they reached a tie, the Podesta orders Candlewick to break the tie and shoot Pinocchio with a real gun. Airplanes then begin flying overhead to attack. When the Podesta continues to demand Candlewick pick up the gun, he stands up to his father for the first time. The Podesta attempts to shoot Pinocchio himself, but Candlewick hits him with a paintball gun and gets him caught in a net, trapping him just as he watches a bomb drop down on him and the school. Pinocchio is thrown into the ocean but is found by Volpe and Spazzatura.
The Count ties Pinocchio to a cross and prepares to burn him for costing him his show and humiliating Mussolini. Pinocchio pleads with Spazzatura, and the monkey finally turns on his master. He frees Pinocchio and tackles Volpe off the cliff, where he lands on a rock, and Spazzatura falls into the ocean. Pinocchio jumps in after him, and they are swallowed by the same sea monster that got Geppetto and Sebastian.
Pinocchio reunites with Geppetto and comes up with a way to get them out of the monster. He begins to tell enough lies to get his nose to grow big enough to reach the monster’s blowhole. As Pinocchio makes his way over, he falls with Geppetto, but the monster blows everyone out of the hole. The monster then goes after Pinocchio, who has found a sea mine, and gets the monster to latch it onto its tooth. The monster then starts charging toward Geppetto, Sebastian, and Spazzatura, but Pinocchio activates the mine and blows the monster to chunks.
When Pinocchio gets to the afterlife, he begs Death to let him go back faster to save Geppetto, but she warns him that if he breaks the rules, he will become mortal and not come back to life. Pinocchio shatters the hourglass that sends him back so he goes immediately to save Geppetto from drowning. Everyone reaches the shore, but Pinocchio is dead for real. Geppetto weeps for his son, and the Wood Sprite appears from behind him. She tells Geppetto that Pinocchio’s sacrifice for him made him a real boy, but he cannot come back. Sebastian then uses his wish to bring Pinocchio back to life, and the Wood Sprite grants it for him. Pinocchio returns and is happily embraced by all.
Sebastian concludes his tale by saying that Pinocchio had many great memories with Geppetto, Spazzatura, and himself. However, as Death told him, everyone Pinocchio loves will have to go someday, and one by one, Geppetto, Sebastian, and Spazzatura all pass on. After Pinocchio is left alone, he heads off for a new adventure.
During the credits, Sebastian is shown as having told the stories to the Black Rabbits before breaking out into a song.
Set during fascist era Italy in World War I, Geppetto the woodcarver loses his son Carlo during a bombing. In his grief, he carves a wooden boy, which is brought to life by a Wood Sprite that names him Pinocchio. Sebastian J Cricket becomes a guide for Pinocchio when the Wood Sprite offers him one wish. Although people view Pinocchio as an abomination, Geppetto tries to make him into a model citizen.
While Pinocchio is meant to go to school, he is found by the greedy Count Volpe for his failing circus to be his new star attraction. Pinocchio joins but is found by Geppetto, and during an argument with Volpe, Pinocchio is hit by a truck and dies. However, since he is not technically a "real boy", Death (sister of the Wood Sprite) is able to send Pinocchio back to life. He stays with Volpe to earn money for Geppetto, but Geppetto goes after Pinocchio with Sebastian, and they get eaten by a sea monster. Volpe, meanwhile, keeps all the money for himself, leading to his monkey Spazzatura to warn Pinocchio. After seeing Volpe for who he really is, Pinocchio humiliates him when he puts on a show for Mussolini and mocks the Prime Minister, leading to his second death.
Pinocchio is sent to a fascist soldier camp by the Podesta, along with his son Candlewick. Pinocchio befriends the boy after learning how his father just wants to mold him into a fascist soldier. The school is bombed and the Podesta is killed, and Pinocchio is found by Volpe. He attempts to burn the puppet, but Spazzatura turns on Volpe and sends him falling off a cliff to his death. Pinocchio goes to rescue Spazzatura, but they get eaten by the sea monster. After reuniting with Geppetto and Sebastian, they escape the sea monster and blow it up with a sea mine, but Pinocchio wants to go back sooner to rescue Geppetto, even though Death warns him this will make him mortal and he will not return. Pinocchio goes back early and saves Geppetto but dies permanently. When the Wood Sprite reappears, Sebastian uses his wish for Pinocchio to come back to life.
Pinocchio spends many nice years with Geppetto, Sebastian, and Spazzatura before they all pass away, and he goes off on his own for a new adventure until the day he may reunite with them.