The New York Book Review Books published the original, and translated, version of, the Italian author, Carlo Collodi’s Pinnochio. It was originally published as a children’s book in 1883. The protagonist, Pinocchio, is a wooden puppet built by his creator, the carpenter. Once Pinocchio acquires his voice, he realizes his freedom and runs away from the carpenter, Geppetto. Pinocchio is portrayed as disobedient for running away and throughout his journey he encounters various fairytale-like characters. Each character represents a moral choice and Pinocchio decisions teach him moral lessons via trail and error. Eventually, after Pinocchio begins to understand the differences between right and wrong, he becomes a human being. This original version of Pinocchio, reveals Collodi’s political perspective of modern Italy during the nineteenth century.
The Adventures of Pinocchio has passed through many adaptations and the most common is the Walt Disney version. Compared to the adapted Walt Disney version, the character Pinocchio is difficult to sympathize with. In the adaptation, Disney recreates Pinocchio as innocent. Also, in the original narrative, Pinocchio is brutally humiliated and nearly killed. At the end of the story he is saved by the fairy with turquoise hair, a motherly figure, and transformed into a human boy. Disney, does not show this motherly figure. The carpenter is Pinocchio’s only parental figure, according to Disney.
Along with introducing the genre picaresque, The Adventures of Pinocchio would be interesting to teach with the approach of understanding adaptation: from text to film. Ideally, I would pair the students and assign them with a scene from the text. Then, a handout would be provided with questions for them to anticipate what to look for.
Before viewing the film the students would answer the following questions based on their assigned scene.
1. Who are the characters?
2. What is the setting and time period?
3. What is the mood?
4. What are the themes?
1. What was similar or different about your scene in the text and your scene in the film?
2. Is this how you imagined the scene? Explain.
3. What did you like about the film adaptation? Give an example.
4. What did you dislike about the film adaptation? Give an example.
For a class discussion, I would ask, “Why do filmmakers or screenwriters make major changes in adapting literary work to film?”