“Pinocchio Guillermo del Toro” has obvious connections to real events that take place parallel to its story, but things take on a whole new level of reality when the characters start making references. Benito Mussolini by the name. Count Volpe (voice of Christoph Waltz) venerates Mussolini, whom he often calls “Duce” or “Leader” in Italian, and is thrilled that Pinocchio will perform his number in front of Mussolini. What to expect? Yes, this happens, although Pinocchio takes the opportunity to joke. “Pinocchio sings to Mussolini about poop” probably wasn’t on anyone’s bingo card going into this movie, but here we are.
Through the lens of characters such as Count Volpe and Podestà, viewers see the disturbing impact of Mussolini’s message in a way that is difficult to understand today. As british encyclopedia time period notes: “Many Italians, especially those from the middle class, welcomed [Mussolini’s] authority”. Mussolini, who would later associate with Hitler during World War II (after the events of Pinocchio), ruled an authoritarian Italy with prejudice and terror, to say the least. His cameo role in this film may seem like just another movie villain – perhaps even a minor one, given his screen time – to kids who didn’t know anything about this era of world history. The world dictator is canon in this version of Pinocchio.
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