How A Live-Action 'Pinocchio' Can Be Different
Heads up: Disney is remaking yet another one of its animated films into a live-action feature. A live-action Pinocchio adaptation is being developed at Disney, following in the footsteps of films like the recently-released Cinderella, the upcoming Beauty and the Beast , and the recently announced live-action Dumbo film.
That's right — it seems like no Disney animated flick is safe from adaptation, which I suppose I can't complain too much about as long as the films are up to par. The Pinocchio adaptation has a lot to live up to — it has to resemble the tale closely enough to be familiar to the animated film's original audience while being just different and unique enough to make the new film worth seeing.
It's a difficult task, but one that I am cautiously optimistic that Disney can achieve. The source material for the animated film — The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, which is about a perpetually fibbing wooden puppet who desperately wants to be a "real boy" — is rich and can help expand the world of Pinocchio even more greatly than the original animated film did in 1940.
Since the live-action film can't be a shot-for-shot remake of the animated film we grew up watching, here's how the film can differentiate itself:
In the original novel, several fantastical creatures aid Pinocchio in his adventures, including many anthropomorphic animals like a devious cat and a bashful peacock. Giving the film a few new creatures to invest in will liven up a familiar tale.
Embrace The Darkness
Pinocchio was always a pretty weird story with plenty of dark elements. In the animated film Pinocchio is nearly turned into a donkey and enslaved, and his dad is nearly murdered by a whale. It would be easy for the new film to shy away from the scarier aspects of the story in favor of a lighter tone, but playing it up could make the tale way more intriguing, particularly to older audiences.
Give Geppetto A Stronger Backstory
Why is Geppetto alone? Did he ever have a family? What made him turn to a block of wood for a child? I'm sure whatever the answers are, they'll be plenty sad.
Kill The Cricket
Yes, I know — controversial opinion. Jiminy is a huge staple of the original animated film, but in the original book series, Pinocchio actually squashes the unnamed cricket and it's the cricket's ghost that later warns Pinocchio of the consequences of his bad behavior. I highly doubt that Disney would kill one of their most beloved characters, but not having Jiminy as the conscience stand-in would certainly differentiate the two films. Perhaps a different creature could narrate Pinocchio's story instead, or Jiminy could be relegated to the voiceover instead of a prominent figure in Pinocchio's world — sort of like a "fly on the wall" (or, rather, cricket) watching the action.
Make Pinocchio's Lies Even Bigger
Pinocchio is a moral tale, but the consequences are way bigger than Pinocchio's actual lies. It would be interesting to see a version of the story where the boy makes a real, terrible mistake out of his selfish need to lie, and learns from it over the course of the film.
Cut The Music
It may happen for Beauty and the Beast, but a live-action Pinocchio might be better off focusing on the story over the limited songs.
Make It Even More Epic
With the power of our modern-day filmmaking, Pinocchio has the power to showcase incredible visuals — like, say, that blue whale.
Let's hope that whatever the filmmakers do with the new adaptation, it does more than rehash the old tale we know. The story has the potential to be an exciting adventure, and I hope Disney takes the opportunity.
Images: RKO Radio Pictures; Giphy (7)