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BERLINALE 2020 Berlinale Special

Matteo Garrone • Director of Pinocchio

"The best way to surprise people was to go back to the original book"


- BERLINALE 2020: We caught up with Matteo Garrone to discover more about his Roberto Benigni-starring adaptation of Pinocchio, screening in the Berlinale Special section

Matteo Garrone  • Director of Pinocchio
(© Harald Krichel)

Italy’s Matteo Garrone arrived at the 70th Berlin Film Festival for a screening of his Pinocchio [+see also:
film review
interview: Matteo Garrone
film profile
as a Berlinale Special. The film has already been released in Italy, where the Roberto Benigni-starrer opened strongly. Cineuropa sat down with the director in Berlin to see if his nose would grow when answering our questions.

Cineuropa: Why did you want to make another film about Pinocchio?
Matteo Garrone: Why not? First of all, I made my first drawing, my first graphic-novel storyboard of Pinocchio, when I was six. Then I grew up with the Pinocchio of Luigi Comencini, the television miniseries, when I was ten or 11. This story has been beside me all my life. After Tale of Tales [+see also:
film review
Q&A: Matteo Garrone
film profile
, I wanted to continue with my exploratory journey through this dimension of fairy tales.

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Were you always a big fan of Carlo Collodi's The Adventures of Pinocchio, which he wrote in 1883?
It was around five years ago that I read the book for the first time. Reading the work, I discovered that the story was quite surprising; there was a lot that I felt was unknown, and there were many things that I didn't remember. That was how the first idea came about to make this a challenge, because when you make Pinocchio, you have to find a way to make something surprising for the audience. After all, the viewer thinks they know the whole story. For me, the best way to surprise them was to go back to the original book.

What is the relevance of Pinocchio today?
Pinocchio is a story that talks about us; it talks about the past because it's a story of poverty, the story of a poor farmer. Still, it is also a story for the future because it talks about being human, and the struggle to survive, to be happy, for love. It's also a beautiful love story between a father and son. It's so rich and full of vision.

Can you say anything further about the beautiful aesthetic of the film, and the decision to use a real boy to play Pinocchio, rather than using CGI?
I like it when special effects are invisible in the movie. It's essential when you are watching a film to forget the camera, to forget everything, and you are inside this parallel dimension, this magical dimension where you are with the character. I like using effects, especially prosthetics.

What was the most significant risk?
One of the biggest risks was that none of us knew how Federico Ielapi, the actor playing Pinocchio, would react to the prosthetics over such a long period of time, because he was eight years old and had to go through four hours of make-up a day for three months. That was a significant risk because he's always in the movie.

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