Del Toro’s Pinocchio: who’s Podestà? What’s his meaning?

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Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio is a stop-motion animation movie released on Netflix in December 2022. Based on the famous novel The Adventures of Pinocchio, published by Carlo Collodi in 1883, it’s the famous story of a wooden puppet that comes to life and becomes Master Geppetto’s son. The story of Pinocchio has been brought to the big screen multiple times, and the most famous movies are the Disney movie made in 1940 and Roberto Benigni’s Pinocchio, released in 2002. Guillermo Del Toro contributed to the story by introducing some changes from the original novel: one of the most evident differences between the movie and the book is Podestà, and people wondered if this character was present in Collodi’s story and what his meaning is. In this article, we will discover more about it.

You can watch the official trailer for Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio here on Youtube.

Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio: who’s Podestà, and what’s his meaning?

Podestà is one of the antagonists in Guillermo Del Toro’s movie Pinocchio, released in 2022. He’s a character invented by Del Toro, and there is no presence of him in the original novel by Carlo Collodi.

Podestà represents authority. He works for Benito Mussolini in fascist Italy, and his life mission is to recruit soldiers to fight for Italy in the war, keep the society under control, and make sure that everybody respect the rules and the ideology supported by the government. In the movie, he demands discipline for Pinocchio because he seems an “independent thinker,” which represents a threat to every authoritarian government.

The meaning of Podestà in Del Toro’s Pinocchio lies in the battle between the good characters, who can think autonomously and independently, who can say no to rules if rules are wrong, and who can consciously decide to break them in the name of superior human principles, and the movie villains, who want to exercise total control on the others, subjecting them to the unique ideology. From this point of view, 2022’s Pinocchio could teach an essential lesson for all of us living in modern society: political and juridical laws aren’t the only rules that should drive our behaviors; there are also human, moral, ethical, and universal principles that exist before every other rule made by humans. And when there is a conflict between a social, juridical law and a human, universal principle, it’s our call to decide what comes first.

Why did Guillermo Del Toro invent Podestà?

Guillermo Del Toro intended to avoid filling his Pinocchio with too many supernatural characters. The only magical characters in his movie are Pinocchio, the Wood Sprite, and Sebastian J. Crickett. That leaves out many villains in the original novel, like the Coachman, Mangiafuoco, the Fox and the Cat. Therefore, Podestà represents a human villain that forces authority on everybody, trying to stop free thinking and preventing humans from living happily.

Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio is set in Italy during Fascism, which came after the publication of Collodi’s novel. Fascism didn’t exist when Collodi wrote the novel. But Del Toro wanted to give a relevant space to authoritarian politics in his movie, to send a message about how we are all called to fight the rules forced from above, where they collide with what we consider universally right.

In Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio, Podestà is voiced by Ronald Perlman, a regular collaborator of Del Toro who already worked with him in movies like CronosPacific Rim, and Nightmare Alley.

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