“Pinnochio’s” set designs and cinematography are up to Italian director Roberto Benigni’s standards, but he foolishly opted for dubbed voices instead of subtitles for the U.S. release. The decision was likely due to the projected fan base being composed of mostly children, yet a dark tone makes this film all but for the kids.
Benigni stays true to the original story, but innovates in his choice to use real actors to play both the humans and the animals (except for the donkeys). This creates some confusion as to whether or not characters such as the Fox and the Cat should be seen as members of society, or rather characters that simply operate due to the magic of the story and film.
Benigni plays Pinocchio with a great enthusiasm. Prey to any that take advantage of his naivety along the way, Pinocchio eventually meets a friend named Leonardo who will lead him to the infamous Fun Forever Land. While on his journey, Pinocchio is visited by the Blue Fairy, who guides him in his quest to become a real boy. Pinocchio’s nose grows for telling lies, and he fails to show up at the party where the Blue Fairy has promised to turn him into a real boy.
The film’s saving graces are in its admirable cinematic elements. His direction is wonderful, and he does succeed in creating a storybook-like feel. However, the film maintains a slightly dark feeling running through it. It would seem that with this film Benigni is perhaps exploring the darker side to such a fairy. This is definitely not a film that children should explore.