This is considered the best of the Walt Disney Studio’s animated films. Released in 1940, it grossed world-wide $121,892,045. Cast: Geppetto – Christian Rub; Pinocchio – Dickie Jones; Blue Fairy – Evelyn Venable; Jiminy Cricket – Cliff Edwards.
Plot: A wooden puppet created by Geppetto is brought to life by the Blue Fairy. He wants to become a real boy. In order to achieve this, he must prove himself brave, truthful, and unselfish with the help of Jiminy Cricket as his conscience.
What Disney has done here is ingenious. He has turned Pinocchio into a parable for children. Some are sung to you by Jiminy Cricket, “Let your conscience be your guide”, others the Blue Fairy tells you, “A lie grows until it’s as plain as the nose on your face”, while you watch the results of bad choices through his beautifully drawn animated story. Pinocchio wants to be a real boy, not just wooden. All children want this. They know they should be good, but they know when tempted they can be weak.
In our film, Pinocchio does not go to school as he should when he meets Foulfellow and Gideon who convince him being an actor is fun. “Hi, Diddle Dee-Dee, An Actor’s Life For Me.” This leads to them giving him to Stromboli, the evil puppet master, who locks him in a cage. When the Blue Fairy comes to help, Pinocchio lies to her. With each lie his nose grows until it has leaves on it and a bird’s nest with baby birds in it. What could be a better way to teach a child not to lie than to show them what happens to Pinocchio?
The Blue Fairy helps Pinocchio escape the cage. But on his way home he immediately runs into Foulfellow again and is shanghaied to Pleasure Island, where boys can smoke and play pool all day or, at least, until (through tobacco and bad habits) they change into mules. They grow long ears, hooves and snouts. Once they are mules they are taken to work in the salt mines. What child would want to smoke after seeing this?
Pinocchio escapes again and goes home to find that Geppetto has been trapped inside Monstro’s stomach while searching for him, and he and Jiminy rush out to save him. The scenes with Monstro the Whale are some of the most beautiful in the film. Disney’s ability to mimic the ocean waves and water crashing against rocks are amazing.
After Snow White the Disney crew began work on Pinocchio and applied what they had learned and then invented numerous innovations. 1) They broke out of frame: An extension of a split frame where a character can depart from the sides of the frame falling out of the animation entirely. (When the whale is chasing Pinocchio and is not seen but the audience knows he is nearby. 2) Multiplane camera: Allows drawings in 3D. Camera passes through foreground drawings. (In the beginning of the film there is an aerial shot of Pinocchio’s village.)
Pinocchio was a great achievement. It was done when the Walt Disney Studio was at its pinnacle of abilities and the principles they invented still live today through, “Despicable Me”, or “Jurassic Park”, because there isn’t a working graphic artist who hasn’t studied the masterful Walt Disney! I give this Great film 5 stars.
This is the two-Disc 70th Anniversary Edition with the entire second disc a Special Feature.