‘Horror story for kids’: Italian director to remake Pinocchio

'Horror story for kids': Italian director to remake Pinocchio
A Pinocchio puppet in Rome. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
Matteo Garrone, the Italian director best known for his mafia drama Gommorah, is preparing to shoot a live-action version of Pinocchio that is sure to tell a very different story from the Disney version.

Garrone will base his Italian-language film on the original fairytale by Tuscan author Carlo Collodi and plans to start shooting in the author's hometown in the autumn, he told Variety magazine.

His version will compete not only with the 1940 Disney cartoon that made the story famous worldwide, but the studio's big-budget, live-action remake, which is also expected to start filming this year. 

But apart from the name, Garrone's movie looks likely to have little in common with the American versions. 

“The challenge is to tell the story that everybody thinks they know; but actually very few do, because there are very few people who have actually read Collodi's book,” he told Variety.

On reading the original, he was surprised to find “a world of poverty, where there is plenty of violence”. Or, as British producer Jeremy Thomas, who is working with Garrone on the film, put it: “It's a horror story for kids.”

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Photo: Kassandra2/Deposit Photos

Poverty, violence and horror are what Garrone's fans have come to expect from the director, who came to international renown with his adaptation of Italian journalist Roberto Saviano's book about the mafia's brutal grip on Naples. He followed it up with the bleak reality-TV comedy Reality and Tale of Tales, an dark, English-language fantasy based on Italian fables. 

His latest work, Dogman, tells the real-life story of a Rome dog groomer who committed one of Italy's most gruesome murders. 

Despite having a considerably smaller budget than Disney, the Italian team believes their version – due out before Disney's release, in late 2019 – has one big advantage: location. 

“Italy offers up incredible locations and space to make a film in, and that is a special weapon for us,” Thomas said, adding that they plan to shoot in southern Italy as well as Tuscany.