The adventures of a wooden puppet who longs to be a real boy is given a fresh outing by the Mexican director Guillermo del Toro in his stop motion animated fantasy adaption of the story of Pinocchio, and follows in the steps of previous live action and animated takes on the tale, most notably Walt Disney’s classic cartoon feature from 1940.
Del Toro is noted for films that deal in the macabre and engage with darkly fantastical and even horrific themes, but whilst his version of Pinocchio carries elements of his particular style it is tailored for a young audience. The film was a passion project for del Toro who has said, "No art form has influenced my life and my work more than animation and no single character in history has had as deep of a personal connection to me as Pinocchio.”
The film had been in development since 2008 but ran into various difficulties that impeded its completion, not least the expense of making it in the stop motion animated style that del Toro was determined to pursue, until its acquisition by Netflix in 2018. The film received its world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2022 and will be released in UK cinemas on 25 November 2022. The film features a voice cast including Ewan McGregor, Cate Blanchett, Christoph Waltz and Tilda Swinton.
Ahead of the film’s big-screen debut, we’ve put together a helpful guide for you to discover more about the age rating and ratings info, before heading off to the cinema.
Rated PG for scary scenes, mild violence, rude humour, language
There is mild bad language ('frigging', ‘bugger’), as well as milder terms such as 'oh my God'.
The lyrics of a comic song contain repeated references to pooping, farting and smelling bottoms as a poo-shaped puppet joins in with the dancing.
threat and horror
There are scary scenes in which characters face danger, including being swallowed by a sea monster and being tied up as a bonfire is lit under them. There are also moments of threat from guns, swordsticks and explosive devices. These scenes are occasionally prolonged, but an emphasis is placed on courage and resourcefulness as the characters help one another in their efforts to save themselves, and to achieve reassuring outcomes.
A man beats and kicks a monkey and cuts off the tip of Pinocchio’s wooden nose with a swordstick. Child characters are forced to take part in wargames with paint guns. A man is shot in the face with a pellet from a paint gun, and a character falls to his death after a monkey claws at his face to save the friends he is endangering. In a scene of war violence a child character is killed in undetailed fashion when a bomb falls onto a church. The character of Pinocchio dies several deaths, but as part of one of the film’s fantastical themes is returned to life each time.
There are upsetting scenes of grieving embedded in the film’s exploration of themes of death and mortality, which are handled in a manner that is accessible to children. The film also contains references to fascism, which is not condoned but held up to mockery and condemnation.
What does our research say?
We classify content in line with our published Classification Guidelines, which are the result of wide-scale consultations with thousands of people from across the UK, extensive research, and more than 100 years of experience. They are updated every four to five years to ensure that our standards continue to reflect the expectations and values of people across the country. We also work closely with experts in particular fields, including child psychologists, education professionals, charities, and other organisations to inform our approach.
Why is Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio classified PG?
(This section may include spoilers for the film)
Our Guidelines on threat and horror at PG state that: ‘‘Frightening sequences or situations where characters are in danger should not be prolonged or intense. Fantasy settings and comedy may be mitigating factors.” Scary scenes in which characters with whom children will identify are placed in threatening situations are occasionally sustained, and include characters being swallowed by a sea monster, in danger from being tied to a stake as a bonfire is ignited under them, and being menaced with firearms, swordsticks and explosive devices. But there are balancing factors in these scenes, such as a focus on bravery and resourcefulness in the face of danger, comic interludes, the reassuring presence of other characters more capable of dealing with the situation and the fantastical nature of Pinocchio’s adventures, all of which help to make it a less intense viewing experience for most young children.
Our Guidelines on violence at PG state that: “Violence will usually be mild. However, there may be moderate violence, without detail, if justified by its context (for example, history, comedy or fantasy).” Violence includes an unsympathetic character beating an animal, the tip of Pinocchio’s wooden nose being cut off, people being shot and a man’s face being clawed by a monkey in an act of defence. There is also war violence in which a child character is killed, without detail, in a bombing raid. The film explores themes of death and mortality, but in a sensitive way that recognises its key children’s audience and the potential for these issues to be disturbing; the themes are there in the context of Pinocchio’s journey as he learns about the humanity which he wishes for himself.
Issues of mild bad language and rude humour, both of which occur infrequently in the course of the film, do not challenge the BBFC Guidelines at PG.
Guillermo del Toro’s vision for his Pinocchio is occasionally dark and there may be concerns that it will be a disturbing experience for very young children, but that is why it has been classified at PG: so that parents, equipped with the BBFC ratings info, can decide its suitability for their children whom they know best.