..

PINOCCHIO
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Voices:  Cliff Edwards, Dickie Jones
Directors:  Hamilton Luske, Ben Sharpsteen
Audio: DTS HD 7.1
Video:  Standard 1.33:1
Studio:  Disney
Features:  See Review
Length:  88 Minutes
Release Date:  January 31, 2017

"If your heart is in your dream,

No request is too extreme!

When you wish upon a star your dreams come true!"

Film ****

What a classic is Pinocchio.  Walt Disney’s second full length animated feature surpassed his original Snow White in many ways.  It had better characters, better story, and some classic morals to go along with it.  All with the usual bevy of wonderful songs to accompany the tale.

Who doesn’t know the story of the little wooden puppet who comes to life, only to find that his goal of becoming a real boy will be a constant struggle against right and wrong?  Most of us grew up with it, and learned many a lesson from Pinocchio’s misadventures, including the values of honesty, respecting your parents, staying in school, and more.

The film brings Pinocchio to life…as a puppet and as a story…with great characterizations, imaginative animation, and terrific musical numbers.  Disney also created one of cartoons’ most beloved and enduring figures in Jiminy Cricket, voiced by the delightful Cliff Edwards.  It’s Jiminy, of course, who finds himself with the daunting task of being the conscience of an easily misled puppet.

Some have been critical of the frightening elements of Pinocchio, but they have missed the point.  This was never meant to be a cute story with a couple of scary moments, according to Walt Disney.  It was a nightmare with a few lighter moments.  Let’s face it, the “children’s stories” we often tell our kids have some pretty scary elements to them, and if you’ve ever read the original serials for Pinocchio you’ll know that Disney toned down the frightening aspects quite a bit (and thankfully, omitted the scene early on where the puppet squashes the cricket).

And oh, what would the film have been without those sequences?  Nothing in my youth was quite so disturbing as the idea that the “stupid little boys” on Pleasure Island literally turning into donkeys.  Seeing Lampwick’s transformation first hand was quite a jolt—and packed a message I don’t think I ever forgot.  Or what of the monstrous Monstro, the whale?  The sequences with him were stunning, thrilling, and yes, even a little scary.  They made for one of the most memorable climaxes in animation history.  I’m sure these images have made lasting impressions on generations of kids, but still, no harm done.  I’ll accept a little scare every time when it means that young imaginations are being opened wider.

In this era of computer generated images (which do create spectacular visual results), I can only hope that we fans never lose our sense of marvel at a classic like Pinocchio, which was drawn and inked entirely by hand, and the amount of imagination, talent, and dedication it took a small but elite group of artists to create this and other films from the fledgling days of animation.   It is simply mind boggling, and I know this much…even if I had the talent, I’d never have that kind of patience.

One interesting aside, for those who are interested in such things—Pinocchio also marked the first use of a recurring motif in Walt Disney’s films, that of the ineffectual and/or goofy father figure.  Here, Geppetto is a good man, but never has the ability to really help Pinocchio, and in the end, he himself ends up having to be rescued by his own son.  This theme has surfaced time and time again, from the father in Bambi who is constantly a distant figure with no paternal presence in his son’s life, to the goofy caricatures of the kings in Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella. 

Many critics have ascribed this tendency to Walt’s lack of a relationship with his own father.  Like I mentioned, just something to ponder if you really want to.

Video ****

I once thought that the pinnacle of how good this movie would look was Disney's first DVD incarnation.  Back then, I doubt I'd ever heard of Blu-ray, or I wouldn't have been so quick to dismiss the future.  Truth is, this is about as gorgeous as you're liable to ever see for a classically animated film.  The colors are bright and vivid, and images are crisp and clear.  The multi-plane photography shots ring out with a special clarity, and the whole print is so pristine, you'd think it was a recently produced offering if you didn't know any better.  Quite exhilarating!

Audio ***1/2

The DTS HD 7.1 soundtrack is impressive in that it sounds quite vibrant and clear...it doesn't over mix and send too much to the rear channels or subwoofer, but the music, dialogue and effects are given extra dynamic range and more space to play with so it sounds like anything other than a near 70 year old film.

Features ****

This Blu-ray is loaded, so I hope I don't miss anything.  You get a few options available as you watch the movie.  You can listen to an audio commentary with critic Leonard Maltin and animation buffs Eric Goldberg and J. B. Kaufman, or you can activate Cine-Explore to see it visually in picture-in-picture, along with some extra goodies.  Or, you can use a neat feature called "Disney View"...instead of bars on the left and right of the screen to correctly frame the image, you'll see related artwork and designs.  Very nice.  Your other choice is to watch the movie with pop-up trivia.

There is also has a new music video for "When You Wish Upon a Star", plus instant song access for singing along.  There is also an interactive trivia challenge, with easy and expert levels, where your goal is to keep Pinocchio's nose from growing.  The only complaint is that it forces about a 30 second film clip with each question, so getting through the game will take you a while.

You get an incredibly in-depth documentary on the making of this classic, which touches on everything from the production, animation and release to the voice casting, music and more.  It's invaluable to Disney fans!  There are three deleted scenes in storyboard form, including an alternate ending, and a deleted song, "Honest John".  There are also art and publicity galleries, a look at the famous Disney animation "sweatbox" plus a look at the real 'Geppettos'; the toymakers of the world.  Lastly, enjoy "Pinocchio's Puzzles" for some 3-D interactive fun, or carnival games at Pleasure Island...but don't get too caught up; you know what can happen!

Some of the newest extras include Walt Disney's own words about the film, his story montage for the Pleasure Island sequence, a project by which top recording stars have a take at "When You Wish Upon a Star", and a classic short of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

Finally, there is a bonus DVD of the film, and a digital HD transfer (for the first time).

Summary:

Some wishes really do come true.  Pinocchio is not just an animated classic…it is a landmark film in American cinema.  This is a perfect classic to show what the studio can do with a Blu-ray disc!

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com