MoMA Gives Guillermo Del Toro’s Newly Released Netflix Fairy Tale Museum Treatment For Crafting Pinocchio – artnet News | Episode Movies

While the miniature sets and puppetry pieces soon to be unveiled at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) may look like a nod to December’s booming toy sales, they were actually designed for the New York institution’s latest film exhibition, Guillermo del Toro: Making of Pinocchio .” The show begins December 11 and takes a behind-the-scenes look at “Pinocchio” – the award-winning filmmaker’s new, undeniably dark, stop-motion take on Carlo Collodi’s classic 1883 children’s story.

Pinocchio is the Mexican filmmaker’s first stop-motion animated film to feature new plot developments courtesy of Del Toro. He co-directed the film with Stop-motion animator Mark Gustafson making his directorial debut. The film is already showing in select theaters and will be available on Netflix on December 9th.

Netflix first introduced the show to MoMA last year while Pinocchio was still being produced in Portland and Guadalajara, the museum’s film curator Ron Magliozzi told Artnet News. He and exhibit co-curator Brittany Shaw traveled to Oregon in October 2021 for their first meeting with Del Toro. “The collaboration was important,” Magliozzi recalled of their first conversation. “With this thought we went into the first day of the studio visit.”

Crafting Pinocchio spans four floors: it begins with several retellings of the story, including a 2002 edition illustrated by Gris Grimly (which inspired Del Toro) to help contextualize Del Toro’s film, before moving on to the The pre-production and production stages of the film are involved. The culmination will be a program of film features, including multiple screenings of Del Toro’s Pinocchio from December 22-29 and a major retrospective of all 12 of the filmmaker’s feature films from December 2022 to January 2023.

Magliozzi has curated previous exhibitions at MoMA around Pixar (2005–06) and Tim Burton (2009), but these have had a strong focus on conceptual art—a stage in the animation process that is being obliterated by digital tools. “Crafting Pinocchio” shows the shift to research-based studies in the manufacture of scenery and costumes.

Mackinnon & Saunders. Making dolls in the Shadow Machine workshop. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022). Image courtesy of Netflix

Del Toro’s version is set in fascist Italy, and his team has gone to great lengths to accurately depict a typical 1930s Italian city, carefully scouring historical studies and even topographical maps for details like the color of the sky and even the shape of to refine acorns .

They even used vegetables like cauliflower and mushrooms to imagine the textures of fantastic characters. These concepts evolved into models, paper standards, and then full puppets cast from the exact acrylic molds seen in lighted showcases in Crafting Pinocchio. Interestingly, Del Toro spent his early career doing special effects and even making molds himself.

Full-size puppets were only made for main characters who required close-ups, such as Pinocchio, while a background puppet is at most 15 cm tall and fairly flat, at only half an inch thick. The life-size Pinocchio from the film will feature, but he doesn’t look like the real boy from the Disney version. Del Toro went through 232 Italian adaptations of Pinocchio to understand the character’s nuances and connect them to his own vision.

This vision is honored in the exhibition with three new video works in a lower gallery that connect themes from Del Toro’s film practice.

To give audiences a sense of what the production was like, the curators sent lighting equipment, kite screens, five working sets and four large set pieces, including the largest – a church – from Portland. They are all the size of a puppet and are easy to disassemble, allowing puppeteers to bring scenes to life and being captured by cameras at close range, making everything appear scaled like in real life.

Del Toro’s Pinocchio joins projects like Henry Selick and Jordan Peele’s Netflix film Wendell & Wild to update the ubiquity of Stop Motion’s clunky Christmas special. Puppets are now more sophisticated, as is digital film, allowing for faster capture and review. And while Del Toro’s “Pinocchio” still used CGI during post-production, Magliozzi said limitations were imposed to preserve the film’s “handmade” feel.

Guillermo del Toro on the set of Pinocchio (2022). Image courtesy of Jason Schmidt/Netflix

Ephemera such as alternative movie posters and time-lapse videos of the animators in action will also be on display at MoMA, alongside an animation planning board from the Portland studio, complete with pins and rubber bands. “They’re about 10 feet tall,” Magliozzi said. “You think it would be done on a computer, but apparently it’s too complicated and easier to do it that way.”

While the props, puppets and sets chosen by the curators tell the film’s story, the power of humans has proven to be the most important element in the making of the film. The dolls have been made both on-site and off-site by companies such as UK studio Mackinnon & Saunders, with some artisans making them in their homes during the pandemic. Meanwhile, in the studios, teams of animators often worked simultaneously on the same scenes, as it can take dozens of animators a full week just to get a few minutes of footage.

It’s fitting, then, that the last thing visitors see before exiting Crafting Pinocchio is a wall of Polaroid portraits showing all of the craftsmen who worked on Del Toro’s film.

“All the artists who worked in the studio had to have a Polaroid made at the beginning of their first day,” Magliozzi recalls. Even as people left the crew, their photos remained and new ones were added as people joined the team.

If you pick up an audio guide, you’ll even hear some of the voices behind those faces narrating “Crafting Pinocchio.”

Guillermo del Toro: Crafting Pinocchio is on view at the Museum of Modern Art, New York from December 11, 2022 to April 15, 2023.

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