CS Interview: Roberto Benigni On Matteo Garrone’s Reimagining of Pinocchio
ComingSoon.net had the opportunity to speak with Oscar winner Robert Benigni (Life Is Beautiful) about his role as Geppetto in Matteo Garrone’s English-language visionary reimagining of the treasured family classic Pinocchio, debuting on Christmas Day in a limited theatrical release from Roadside Attractions.
In the film, Geppetto, an old woodcarver’s puppet creation, Pinocchio (Federico Ielapi), magically comes to life with dreams of becoming a real boy. Easily led astray, Pinocchio tumbles from one misadventure to another as he is tricked, kidnapped, and chased by bandits through a wonderful world full of imaginative creatures – from the belly of a giant fish, to the Land Of Toys and the Field Of Miracles.
“This is really a marvelous movie,” said Benigni, who described the film, as well as his character of Geppetto, as being “loyal” and “true to the book.” The actor shared his profound love for the project, as well as his excitement for the upcoming release in the U.S., saying how audiences, “Will love it because there is something really special, really beautiful about the movie.”
“It’s so funny,” Benigni added. “It’s a marvelous puppet that wants to be happy.”
Benigni also discussed the gap between his last two movie projects, with his previous film To Rome With Love having premiered in 2012. “If I am to star in a movie, I like to do what I really love, especially if I love the script. But I prefer to play on stage. I did a tour around the world with The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri. I did a lot of television in Italy. Many, many things.”
When asked if he had ever considered adapting The Divine Comedy into a movie, Benigni revealed he had received many offers, including a “movie for Netflix,” but declined. “No. This is a masterpiece. It’s a masterpiece because of the language and because of the poetry, because of the rhymes… I decided it’s not a good idea.”
Garrone’s rich world of mystery and wonder premiered at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival. Garrone (Dogman, Tale of Tales, Gomorrah) co-wrote the screenplay with Massimo Ceccherini. Producers are Archimede’s Matteo Garrone, Le Pacte’s Jean and Ann-Laure Labadie, Recorded Picture Company’s Jeremy Thomas, and Rai Cinema’s Paolo Del Brocco. Executive producers are Alessio Lazzareschi, Peter Watson, and Marie-Gabrielle Stewart.
One of the world’s most loved children’s literature classics, Pinocchio has been translated into more than 300 languages from the original 1883 novel written by Carlo Collodi, and remains among the top 50 bestsellers globally.