Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

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Not suitable under 10; not recommended under 12; parental guidance to 14 (violence, scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
  • a review of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 29 November 2022.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not suitable due to violence and scary scenes.
Children aged 10–11 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes.
Children aged 12–14 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes.
Children over the age of 14 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Scary scenes, mature themes and violence
Length: 117 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Set at the start of World War II in Mussolini’s Italy, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is a retelling of the classic story of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. The tale is told by Sebastian J. Cricket (voice of Ewan McGregor) at a time when fascism is on the rise and the local town where Geppetto (David Bradley), a carpenter, lives with his son, Carlo, is ruled by the Podestà (Ron Perlman), a loyal Nazi. Tragedy occurs when the church that Carlo is in, is hit by a bomb and he is killed. Geppetto never recovers from the loss of his son and lives his life in grief and in a drunken state.

Many years later, Geppetto carves out a wooden boy from a tree that grew next to Carlo’s grave. A wood sprite (Tilda Swinton) takes pity on Geppetto when she sees him still weeping over Carlo’s grave, and gives life to the wooden boy. Geppetto calls him Pinocchio and is both afraid and joyful when Pinocchio comes to life. Pinocchio, however, is full of mischief, curiosity and disobedience, unlike Carlo who was always an obedient boy. Pinocchio’s nose also grows longer if he tells a lie, which makes Geppetto angry. The Podestà wants Pinocchio to join the Nazi Youth Party and learn how to become a soldier. Instead, Pinocchio joins a touring carnival led by the wicked Count Volpe (Christopher Waltz) and his cat, Spazzatura (Cate Blanchett). Pinocchio is accidentally killed when a vehicle runs him over and he finds himself in a dark place where black rabbits are playing cards. The wood sprite’s sister, Death, tells Pinocchio that he has many lives to live and sends him back to Geppetto.

On his return to life, Pinocchio is sent to the Nazi Youth camp where he befriends the Podestà’s son, Candlewick (Finn Wolfhard), who had previously tormented him. There, both boys learn invaluable lessons about questioning authority. When the camp is destroyed by enemy bombing, Pinocchio continues his adventures to rescue Geppetto who has been swallowed by a gigantic whale. In order to save his papa, Pinocchio has to do something most courageous.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Life and Death; Grief and Loss; Mortality and Immortality; Fantasy; War; Oppression; Disobedience; Father-son relationships.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • A church that Carlo is in is hit by a bomb. The church explodes and is on fire. Geppetto is thrown from the doorsteps of the church, onto the street.
  • Geppetto falls down a ladder when drunk.
  • Pinocchio smashes several objects with a hammer and throws knives. He also hits Geppetto with a pot.
  • Sebastian is squashed underfoot or by other means on several occasions.
  • Pinocchio’s feet catch fire when he sits too close to a fire.
  • Geppetto and Count Volpe fight over Pinocchio, pulling him from each end. He falls to the ground and is run over by a truck and dies.
  • Sea mines are seen scattered in the ocean and one explodes.
  • Count Volpe beats Spazzatura with a stick. Pinocchio tries to intervene and Volpe threatens him with a sword.
  • Pinocchio performs a parody of the show for Mussolini who gives his soldiers the command to shoot him. Pinocchio dies again.
  • The boys at the Nazi Youth camp are given grenades and rifles that shoot paint. Pinocchio and Candlewick are on separate teams that have to compete to reach the tower first. When they both arrive together, they raise both flags. The Podestà, however, is angry that they agreed to tie and orders Candlewick to shoot Pinocchio with a real gun.
  • More bombs are dropped, which send Pinocchio flying up into the air. When he lands, he finds Count Volpe has tied him to a cross. Volpe then sets fire to a pyre underneath him.
  • Spazzatura attacks Volpe and saves Pinocchio. Volpe falls off a cliff into the ocean.
  • Pinocchio sets off a sea mine to kill the whale.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • There are many scary characters in this movie. Geppetto appears scary at times when he carries an axe and a hammer. The Podestà is tall and intimidating. Count Volpe has a long nose and hair that stands up like horns. The wood sprite is a large, illuminated creature with white eyes and light hands, while her sister, Death, is similar although appears as a lion-type creature. Spazzatura the cat, has a glass eye. The whale is a monstrous sea creature with a huge mouth with teeth, large enough to swallow a small boat.
  • There are also many scary scenes that are dark, with thunder and lightning, storms, warfare etc.
  • The characters in the carnival are all rather scary: a large bearded man and a large woman, and a puppet who looks like the devil.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Spirits are seen as bright lights, flying through the forest.
  • The monstrous whale swallows Geppetto and the boat he is in. Inside the whale’s stomach is a scary, cavernous place with fluid flowing about.
  • Pinocchio and Spazzatura are also swallowed by the monstrous whale.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Geppetto cries when they bury Carlo and he is seen weeping over Carlo’s grave for many years. He turns to drink to comfort himself.
  • The underground world that Pinocchio enters is very dark.
  • In the carnival, Pinocchio has to hold a rifle and sing songs supporting the fatherland. The background shows tanks moving past.
  • Pinocchio is worked too hard and collapses to the ground.
  • Several characters die at the end of the movie from old age.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A sea captain smokes a cigarette.
  • Geppetto turns to drink after Carlo dies and is seen drinking from bottles. Broken bottles are seen lying around his house.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Oh my God
  • Bugger off.

In a nutshell

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is a stop-motion animated, musical fantasy that is amazing to see. It is beautifully crafted and visually stunning. The film focuses on many philosophical subjects, including father-son relationships; life, death and immortality; and war and its consequences, and as such is too intense for younger viewers. It is also quite scary and violent in places and is therefore not recommended for children under 12 and parental guidance is recommended for children aged 12 – 14.

The main messages from this movie are that sometimes it’s necessary to disobey those in authority; and that trying your best is the best anyone can do.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Courage and bravery
  • Selflessness and self-sacrifice
  • Loyalty
  • Friendship
  • Standing up to brutes and bullies
  • Supporting your friends
  • Standing up for what you believe in.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • That children need to be accepted for who they are not what they are expected to be.
  • Disobedience is a theme of this movie and sometimes it is necessary to disobey those in authority when you know that what they are saying is wrong. Parents could discuss with their children when it’s right to question those who hold power over you rather than follow in blind obedience.
  • War is the background to this movie and Geppetto knows it never brings any good as it killed his son. It could be an opportunity to discuss why countries go to war.