1940; Not Rated; 88 Minutes
Dickie Jones: Pinocchio
Christian Rub: Geppetto
Cliff Edwards: Jiminy Cricket
Evelyn Venable: The Blue Fairy
Walter Catlett: J. Worthington Foulfellow
Frankie Darro: Lampwick
Charles Judels: Stromboli The Coachman
Don Brodie: Barker
Produced by Walt
Disney; Directed by Ben Sharpsteen and Hamilton Luske;
Screenwritten by Ted Sears, Otto Englander, Webb
Smith, William Cottrell, Joseph Sabo, Erdman Penner, Aurelius
Battaglia; based on the story by Carlo Collodi
by DAVID KEYES
seems hard to believe that it was almost 60 years ago when
a little movie title "Pinocchio" came into our lives. In
the late 1930s, Walt Disney proudly introduced the animated
film genre to us with his first, "Snow White And The Seven
Dwarfs," which in itself is the ground breaker for every
animated movie that arrived afterwards.
"Pinocchio," his second film, was the first true masterpiece
of his time. People today have come to recognize the animation
department's recent successes as classics of their lifetimes,
but at a period when Disney himself isn't alive to watch
them succeed, it seems fitting that his original work is
considers the studio's best.
it is in every way. Most consider "Snow White" the true
masterpiece of his time, while others think it's "Pinocchio."
Though I visualize that "Bambi" has always remained his
greatest triumph, "Pinocchio" comes awfully close.
early 1940s proved to be a tough time for Mr. Disney and
his animators, though. "Pinocchio" and "Fantasia," the two
movies that followed "Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs,"
were not the successes in movie theaters that the studio
had hoped them to be. True, they were, at that time, considered
the most elaborate tests animation had ever taken, not just
because they demonstrated their limitless freedom of creativity,
but because they also demonstrated stories and situations
involving elements that children learn to fear. Scary monsters,
evil, demonic laughter, doom--things like this will likely
leave our little children cowering in their seats, because,
after all, children are taught and have the instinct to
fear these things.
somehow, these two movies failed to earn back their budget
in their original nationwide releases. This prompted the
studio's next feature, "Dumbo," to be made on a tight budget
and on quick schedule in hopes that it would earn back the
money it has lost with "Pinocchio" and "Fantasia."
it did. Thus, the future promoted several similar elaborate
failures and tightly budgeted successes. In 1959, Disney
produced his most elaborate animated movie, "Sleeping Beauty,"
which was around six million dollars in the making. It,
too, failed, and the studio's next feature, "101 Dalmatians,"
had an obviously limited budget, but was a quick money-maker
for the studio nonetheless in this situation.
same happened in the mid 1980s. "The Black Cauldron," in
1985, was promoted as a new age of animation for the studio.
Costing an estimated 25 million dollars, it opened up to
mixed reviews but poor worldwide box office results. This,
too, prompted a limited-budget feature, this time named
"The Great Mouse Detective," released in the following year.
you can see, Disney's history often repeats itself, sadly.
I say sadly because it's almost impossible to believe that
features like "Pinocchio," "Sleeping Beauty" and "The Black
Cauldron" would fail when they're all terrific movies. Each
one of them portrayed the bloodcurdling stories that children
had feared all their lives, instead of seeming like the
standard innocent children's tales. Perhaps they failed
because the adult audiences thought that these things could
have been too intense for young eyes.
a risk that the studio constantly takes, and its a risk
that pays off critically but not often commercially. In
"Pinocchio," Disney demonstrated the powers of obsession
and darkness to frighten its little viewers. There was a
moment when I saw it in a theater awhile back when a young
boy in front of me began crying when a monstrous blue whale
was attacking Pinocchio and his family. He cried so loud
that his mother had to remove him from the theater. This
would seem like a smart move, since the movie is, after
all, scary for a young viewer's eyes. But children have
to learn to deal with these things eventually. What better
way to deal with them than animated movies that appeal to
their little eyes? Why do you think Disney made movies like
don't get the impression that movies like "Pinocchio" are
simply made to scare them. Disney always ensured that there
was relief in his movies, so that they wouldn't depress
the overall atmosphere of the picture. Here, our cases of
relief are the comical Jiminy Cricket, the cute little animals
Figaro and Cleo, and the strikingly beautiful blue fairy.
Each of them, I imagine, will bring relief to all different
target audiences, but the true target audience, the little
boys, will find their relief from the fright in Pinocchio
himself, the little blockhead that they can obviously identify
with. He's always getting into trouble, but thanks to relief
and his supporting characters, the troubles are all eventually
be warned, all these dark and frightening situations don't
necessarily involve the standard Disney villain. Truthfully,
there are three antagonists in "Pinocchio," but the true
evil and pain is inflicted by life's decisions. Important
Disney movies like this don't need villains to cause the
darkness. Life inflicts the doom and pain all on its own.
That's why "Bambi" deals with a faceless, nameless hunter,
and "Lady And The Tramp" deals with nameless and faceless
dog catchers. Life's situations create their own troubles,
and villains do not need to carry them out.
also why "Pinocchio" does without a major villain. Being
a wooden boy will likely brew up some mischief with the
people that live around him, but the tests of humanity and
the essence of life itself are the real villains here. And
in usually every case, there's a hero like Pinocchio whose
life's instincts and decisions are the real solutions to
defeating these horrors of real life. True, "Pinocchio"s
life horrors are more on a level of unreal fantasy, but
can you think of anything better in a situation with a live
wooden puppet? What would seem like a real life villain
in this case besides the fantasy?
whole conception emerges "Pinocchio" as one of the best
movies I have ever laid eyes on. It's hard to imagine movies
like this would fail in public release, but perhaps that's
to be expected and appreciated. Obviously adults don't want
their children to see things that they might find too dark
and frightening for their kids. That's an obvious solution
movies like this that fail eventually get the recognition
they deserve. Today, "Pinocchio" is hailed as one of Disney's
greatest triumphs, and rightfully so.
failures wind up like this. If they fail today, who knows
how widely acclaimed they'll be tomorrow?
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
Please e-mail the author here
if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.