Guillermo Del Toro Made Pinocchio To Save Stop-Motion From 'Perpetual Extinction'

There isn't a filmmaker working today more in love with the magic of the moving image than Guillermo del Toro. As a director and producer, he's made some of the most visually distinctive movies of the last 30 years. He is a brilliant illustrator who's equally enamored of live-action films and animation. He has dipped into both mediums, and turned out triumphs aplenty. So it is a unique thrill to find the maestro co-helming his first stop-motion animated film, alongside Mark Gustafson, with "Pinocchio."

The film began shooting at the outset of 2020, and will debut on Netflix this December. Two-time Academy Award-winning composer Alexandre Desplat not only wrote the score, but contributed several new songs to the soundtrack. This is a musical, one that might very well play darker than Walt Disney's fairly messed-up 1940 classic. For del Toro, who's been developing the film since 2008, this is a labor of love, which has as much to do with the method of production as the story.

Stop-motion animation is a tangible, literally handmade challenge to the ones-and-zeroes primacy of CG cartoons. It's labor intensive and out of step with the fluid look introduced by Pixar's "Toy Story," but great filmmakers have kept the faith. Henry Selick, Tim Burton, Wes Anderson, and Charlie Kaufman have made masterpieces within this tactile realm, so it follows that del Toro would want to join this antiquated party.

Preserving an endangered art form

The Academy Award-winning director explained his ardor for and defense of stop-motion animation, particularly as it pertains to "Pinocchio," in a press conference attended by /Film's Jeremy Mathai.

"We have beautiful stop motion movies, and they are in our animation right now. But stop motion is normally one of the arts that is in perpetual extinction because... it takes a long time. It takes a lot of effort. Everything is physical. [I]t's something I've started since I was a child all the way to here. There's something beautiful about the story of a puppet that refuses to obey everybody else. It behaves like a puppet obeys, conforms ... with puppets. One of the things we wanted was... you should be able to see that is a stop motion [character]. You should be able to see the fabric moving a little jittery. This will age, to me, perfectly."

We'll be able to take stock of Guillermo del Toro's stop-motion expertise when "Pinocchio" hits Netflix on December 9. God bless him for doing everything in his power to keep this medium alive.