Sunday, May 30, 2010

"What does an actor want with a conscience, anyway? "

Film: "Pinocchio"

Release Date: 9 February 1940

Director: Ben Shappsteen, Hamilton Luske, Norman Ferguson, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Bill Roberts

After the success of "Snow White," Walt Disney was ready to follow it up with more animated films. The first of these would be "Pinocchio," based on the Italian story by Carlo Collodi. It went through some very heavy changes when it was originally being worked on as Walt felt it need a different approach them the one that was being used for the film at the time. Some of the biggest changes were to the leading characters of Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket. For Pinocchio, Walt felt that the direction that was being used, making him more of a sarcastic wise guy, like the original story, wouldn't work and liked the idea of him being played more as an innocent character with a deep sense of wonder and amazement about the World. In the case of Jiminy Cricket, his role was expanded to what it is now in the film with him take a less "insect" look and more of a "human" look.

While "Pinocchio" has gained the love and admiration of countless fans and film critics and historians over the years, it was originally a failure at the box office. Part of that was due to World War Two, which saw the film get a delayed release in the valuable international markets of Asia and Europe. But thanks to it's myriad of re-releases over the years and VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray sales, it has more then made up it's original box office losses. It was the first animated film to win a serious Oscar at the Academy Awards, winning for both Best Song (When You Wish Upon a Star) and Best Scoring of a Musical Picture. In 1994, it was added to the United States National Film Registry and has made all manner of top ten lists over the years.

My Reaction: I had just seen "Pinocchio" a few moths ago with my then fiance (now wife), so it was still fresh in my mind. But what I have noticed is how the older I get, the more I enjoy this one. There is something about the story of the wooden boy who wants to be a real boy that does a very good job of capturing my attention. The grand adventures young Pinocchio has are epic and deep. Each adventure leads to some great life lesson that Pinocchio learns that leave a lot of deep emotional impact on it's audience. I actually feel sorry for him when he discovers instead of a life of ease as an actor, he is nothing more then a slave to Stromboli, who has sights on exploiting our hero and then turning him into firewood when his use is dried up.

While Walt got and still get praise for his landmark film "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," I have to say especially after watching both back-to-back, that in my mind "Pinocchio" is the stronger film. Pinocchio as a character is more three-dimensional then Snow White and the over all canvas is deeper. The whole "Pleasure Island" scene was just inspired. I remember as a young boy it scared me so much I don't remediable disobeying my parents for many weeks after. Even now it leaves an impact and is an interesting moment of growth for our hero.

The music was perfectly written for the film, both songs and score and add a lot of further depth to the picture. I have always loved the song "When You Wish Upon a Star" and very much can understand why it has become one of the most recognizable Disney tunes. I think while it may not have been originally, this film is quickly becoming one of my faves.

My Wife's Reaction: She once again seemed to enjoy it. Of the very few Disney film she originally owned before marring me, this one was one of the ones she had, and would watch.

My Final Grade: (A+) This film maybe the finest film Walt Disney ever made. Defiantly of the first 5 that were released before his "package film era" it is the best. While the other four on that list (Snow White, Fantasia, Bambi, and Dumb) are still good and each have something to offer in the over all Disney cannon, "Pinocchio" is the better told story with richer characters and with maybe the greatest song to ever come out of a Disney film. In every way, this film was enjoyable to watch and of all the earliest work, the one that maybe stands the test of time the best. They just don't make films like this one anymore.

All images copyright Disney. All rights reserved.


  1. I completely agree with your grade! I love this movie! The music, the animation and mais oui, Jiminy Cricket has me watching this movie over and over again. The song When You Wish Upon a Star is gorgeous and just speaks to the heart. The underwater scene is very realistic, it truly looks like Pinocchio is swimming in water, quite the feat for 1940s!

  2. Did you know that "When You Wish Upon a Star" was written by a member of the LDS Church from Salt lake City, UT?

    I always thought that was cool. :D