By Jack Rico
2011 seems to be the year of Hispanics in Hollywood. With so many new Spaniard and Latin American directors, actors and screenwriters getting play in Hollywood, it’s a good time to speak Spanish in the movie business.
One of the first, and perhaps most revered Mexican directors in the US movie space, Guillermo del Toro, is teaming up with The Jim Henson Company and Pathe to do a 3D stop motion animated adaptation of Pinocchio, according to Deadline.com.
Gris Grimly is set to co-direct with Mark Gustafson, and production will begin later this year. The concept was conceived by Del Toro, but Matthew Robbins wrote the script.
According to the site, this new version of Pinocchio, made famous by Disney, is aimed at an audience 10 years and up, though it will be a bit scarier.
“There has to be darkness in any fairy tale or children’s narrative work, something the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson and Walt Disney understood,” del Toro said. “We tend to call something Disney-fied, but a lot of people forget how powerfully disturbing the best animated Disney movies are, including those kids being turned into donkeys in Pinocchio. What we’re trying to do is present a Pinocchio that is more faithful to the take that Colodi wrote. That is more surreal and slightly darker than what we’ve seen before.”
For instance: “the Blue Fairy is really a dead girl’s spirit,” del Toro said. “Pinocchio has strange moments of lucid dreaming bordering on hallucinations, with black rabbits. The sperm whale that swallows Pinocchio was actually a giant dogfish, which allows for more classical scale and design. The many mishaps Pinocchio goes through include several near-death close calls, a lot more harrowing moments. The key with this is not making any of it feel gratuitous, because the story is integrated with moments of comedy and beauty. He’s one of the great characters, whose purity and innocence allows him to survive in this bleak landscape of robbers and thugs, emerging from the darkness with his soul intact.”
This isn’t the only thing the gifted Mexican director/producer is working on. Del Toro is about to embark on a project with James Cameron called At the Mountains of Madness, the R-rated $125 million 3D live action adaptation of the HP Lovecraft tale about the discovery by scientists of horrific aliens thawing in Antarctica. The film has Tom Cruise as the star and Del Toro expects to start this by May.
Del Toro has long been a stop motion fan. “I’ve had a special effects house for a decade in Mexico, and we were one of the first stop motion animated houses where a lot of influential animators trained,” he said.
Here are some concept pictures from the new Pinocchio film that Del Toro submitted to the site.