The dark Italy of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio: Best Animated Film at the 2023 Oscars


The spotlights have just dimmed on the 95th Oscars, a night of both surprise and predicted outcomes: the big winner, with seven statuettes including the key awards, was the Daniels’ Everything Everywhere All at Oncewhile the German film All Quiet on the Western Front won four including Best International Film.

No wins for Italy’s hope, Le pupille, Alice Rohrwacher’s short film produced by Alfonso Cuaron and shot in Bologna (locations listed here) nominated for Best Live-Action Short: the winner was An Irish Goodbye by Tom Berkely and Ross White.

However, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio won the Best Animated Film statuette, with its setting evocative of the dark tones and existential themes of Florentine Carlo Collodi’s iconic tale. This version of Pinocchio is set in a ruined borgo, presumably in northern Italy, in the early 20th century, between WWI and Mussolini’s rise to power. Before long, writing appears on the walls: slogans like believe, obey, fight. In a world where everyone is forced to obey, like puppets, del Toro positions the real puppet – Pinocchio – as the only individual to disobey and rebel, as he searches for his place in the world. In doing so, he travels the length and breadth of Italy – Alessandria, Livorno, Viterbo, Avellino, Catania passing from a Fascist training camp to the belly of a whale, experiencing multiple adventures, always on the cusp of life and death as he oscillates between his puppet nature and his human soul.

Find out about all the locations of Pinocchio here.

(Monica Sardelli)