Stanley Kubrick Wanted to “Make Children Laugh and Feel Happy” with a ‘Pinocchio’ Adaptation… No, Not ‘A.I.’

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Remember when Jonathan Taylor Thomas played Pinocchio in the not-so-good The Adventures of Pinocchio? Or when Roberto Benigni played Pinocchio in his even-more-not-so-good 2002 Pinocchio? The little wooden puppet has had some bad luck on his quest to becoming a real boy in movies since Disney’s 1940 film based on Carlo Collodi 1880s children’s novel. But if Stanley Kubrick had had his way, there might currently be a beautiful, Kubrickian version of the tale out there.

You’d probably assume that Kubrick’s vision of Pinocchio — which is, itself, already a little scary and completely dark when you think about it — would have been an existential horror film about anxieties of derealization, but it seems the 2001: A Space Odyssey/Eyes Wide Shut director’s intent was actually just to make a lovely kids’ movie. The Guardian spoke with Emilio D’Alessandro, Kubrick’s decades-long personal assistant and friend whose book Stanley Kubrick and Me: Thirty Years at His Side is being published in English. He said that in 1999, before Kubrick’s death, the director was planning his first kids’ movie — an adaptation of Pinocchio. D’Alessandro told the Guardian:

Stanley was interested in making Pinocchio. He sent me to buy Italian books about [him]…He wanted to make it in his own way because so many Pinocchios have been made. He wanted to do something really big … He said: ‘It would very nice if I could make children laugh and feel happy by making this Pinocchio.’

Allegedly, he would have made it especially with his own grandchildren in mind. And while some may argue that he did have his way with the narrative, given the parallels in his posthumous collaboration with Stephen Spielberg — A.I. — which was at once exquisite, overlong and silly in its self-seriousness — D’Alessandro said this would have been an entirely separate project.

The article also details how Kubrick was simultaneously planning a WWII film about the battle of Monte Cassino.