Matteo Garrone regretted making an Italian film in English five years ago. Now it makes up for it.
Five years ago, Italian author Matteo Garrone debuted in English with “Tale of Tales,” a bloody, imaginative depiction of 17th-century Italian writer Giambattista Basile’s fairy tales. The film features lush twists by John C. Reilly, Salma Hayek and others. These days Garrone regrets that decision.
“If I could go back, I would probably record ‘Story Story’ with Italian actors,” he said in a recent telephone interview. “I think it is very important to keep the cultural identity of each country in their films. This was an Italian project, taken from one of the best books of Italian fairy tales. But it seemed like I was leading other actors because we don’t have good actors in Italy. This is wrong. “
Now Garrone is making up for that decision. With the film “Pinocchio”, he adapted another definite Italian fairy tale, this time with a completely Italian cast. After the release in Italy in 2019, he prepared a dubbing in English using only accented Italian actors. Roadside Attractions is announcing a synchronization in English on Christmas, and in January it will open a subtitled version in the original Italian language at selected art houses, reflecting the hybrid approach to the UK release from August.
For Garrone, this is not sacrilege. Although film purists often ridicule dubbing in America, the practice has been common for generations for English-language films being released in other markets around the world. “We’re used to watching movies from America and England that are dubbed and there’s absolutely no problem with that,” he said. “Instead of synchronizing the film from the United States to Italian, we synchronized the film with the Italians for the United States. We tried very hard to make a version that is as good as the original. I am very pleased with that. ”
Garrone knew that “Pinocchio” would have a hard time playing to a younger English-speaking audience if he couldn’t follow the subtitles. “I believed we could do a very good job without losing anything about the original version, because we sync using Italian actors who sync to English, so we don’t lose the Italian accent,” he said. “I know kids will enjoy a movie that’s dubbed and they won’t pay attention to it.”
However, Garrone’s argument assumes that American parents will want their children to watch this creepy, sometimes unsafe taking of material, instead of, say, Disney’s 1940 version that is readily available on streaming platforms. Garrone’s “Pinocchio” was already at the top of the Christmas box office for its Italian release last year, but when it premiered at the Berlinale in February, some American buyers were wary of the film’s disturbing moments, including one nightmarish scene featuring a wooden protagonist ( Federico Ielapi) a group of criminals hung on a tree after he fled to the village.
Garrone sticks to that decision, as do many other terrifying encounters Pinocchio had after fleeing the small town where carpenter Gepetto lives (Roberto Benigni, who played Pinocchio in the version he directed 20 years ago). “The fact that sometimes it’s dark is very important,” Garrone said, referring to Carl Collodi’s original 1883 book. “Collodi wanted to show children how dangerous and cruel the world around them can be,” Garrone said. “They were warned to be careful and follow the advice of people who love you. The dark side is related to this aspect – a consequence of Pinocchio’s bad decisions. “
The film relies on a sophisticated set of practical effects and prosthetic makeup over CGI, resulting in persecution and the often psychedelic vision of a resuscitating boy and vivid creatures he encounters along the way, from dyspeptic cricket speech to a mother snail. No matter who watches it, the film is a miracle to watch. “We tried to have simple, funny moments as well as a lot of action and we tried to keep the soul of the book talking to children as well as adults,” Garrone said.
Although Garrone has never dealt with children’s films before, his work often combines naturalistic storytelling with hints of foreign forces at work. “I loved this project because I could mix my approach to realism with something that is a bit surreal and abstract,” he said.
It remains to be seen how much this version of “Pinocchio” will be compared to others in preparation. A stop-motion version of Guillermo del Toro for Netflix will be released next year, and Robert Zemeckis has a motion recording project in collaboration with Disney. Garrone refrained from commenting on these upcoming interpretations. “I’m confident he will pursue something different from what I did,” he said. “I’m not the first to adapt ‘Pinocchio’ and I know I won’t be the last. I have no problem with that at all. He added that the story had timeless echoes: “It is connected to the past, it speaks about the present time and it is relevant for the future, because the characters are a kind of archetype of our society.”
Garrone also hesitated to say much about previous interpretations of “Pinocchio” – possibly learning a lesson after telling the Telegraph earlier this year that “Walt Disney betrayed the story” – although he said the character had attracted him since his own childhood, when he saw the Italian miniseries from 1972 starring Luigi Comencini. Garrone read the original book only decades later. “It was a challenge to adapt a story that seems familiar to everyone, but to make it surprising and to let people discover the story of the original book,” he said. He was thrilled to have created a team of make-up artists and practical effects technicians as an alternative to the onslaught of adaptations of live animated classics (or, in the case of The Lion King, photorealistic variations).
“It’s always weird to me – a little inconsistent – when I see a real animal speaking people’s language,” he said and giggled. The cast of “Pinocchio” includes unforgettable figures like Fox and Cat, which look like humanoids with mustaches and hairy ears. “We tried to make them more anthropomorphic – a little bit of people, a little bit of animals,” he said. “It looked a little less weird this way.”
Despite the film’s commercial and critical success in Italy, the country did not choose “Pinocchio” as an official Oscar, but agreed to a rather surprising selection of the experimental documentary “Notturno”, by Gianfranco Rossi, “Fire at Sea”. problematic life in the war-torn region of the Middle East. Garrone, whose “Dogman” was an Italian figure last year, shrugged. “I don’t think it would be elegant of me to say anything about this,” he said, adding that the application commission simply did not respond to the film. “It’s a matter of personal taste and happiness, whether they like your version of cinema or not,” he said.
However, he saw the potential for the film to break other categories this season, as several of his contributions below the line have already been confirmed by the Academy. These include prosthetic designer Mark Coulier, who previously won an Oscar for his work on the films “Iron Lady” and “Grand Hotel Budapest”, and composer Dario Marianelli, who won for “Atonement”. And Garrone hoped costume designer Massimo Cantini Parrini, who won the Donatello Award in May, would also die. “I know the film will qualify for all categories, so I’m very confident that there will be a lot of opportunities for the film,” Garrone said.
In theory, “Pinocchio” marked one of the biggest turning points in Garrone’s career since his mafia film “Gomorrah” became an art sensation 12 years ago. “Pinocchio” was his highest-grossing film in Italy, but also one of the most acclaimed. But that momentum did not make it easier to assess his next moves in the midst of a pandemic. “At this dramatic moment, it’s not easy to find a new project,” he said. “Things are changing so fast, so I’m in no hurry to find anything.” Still, he reads scripts and holds high standards. “I’m always attracted to tough projects,” he said. “When I work, I’m always happy.”
Attractions along the “Pinocchio” road will not be released in cinemas until December 25.
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