Pinocchio is always going to be one of my favorite Disney animated classics even if it isn’t at the very top of my list. That honor is bestowed upon Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and believe it or not, Tarzan. Our little wooden friend isn’t very far behind, because it simply epitomizes everything that makes a Disney animated classic what it is supposed to be: classic. Pinocchio is a character that everyone knows by name, face, and voice. The Blue Fairy is someone that every person always wishes would pay a visit to them. Phenomenal villains such as Stromboli and Monstro the Whale are not watered down but evil enough to put fear into the hearts of millions. The story itself provides comedy, love, drama, and fantasy that can make all viewers escape their everyday lives for a little bit and slip into a realm of make-believe. Let’s not forget the fantastic music and familiar songs that are easy to keep on humming for days to come. But has Pinocchio been able to stand the test of time and remain entertaining after close to three-fourths of a decade?
Gepetto is a lonely toymaker that doesn’t let on very much that being by himself really does bother him. Living with his cat Figaro and fish Cleo, Gepetto has recently created a brand new marionette puppet that looks just like a lovable little boy. Gepetto actually has a wish that has the slightest and faintest bit of hope in it that one day his little puppet, that he named Pinocchio, will one day grow up to be a real boy. Little did he realize that when he went to sleep that night, Pinocchio would be granted the gift of life due to the unselfish and heartfelt life Gepetto has always lived. The Blue Fairy paid a visit to the small townhouse and advised Pinocchio that if he proved himself to be brave, truthful, and unselfish; then one day he would be a real boy. And to keep him in line, a vagrant cricket by the obvious name of Jiminy Cricket was granted control of Pinocchio’s choices over right and wrong by being his conscience.
Now that he has a son, Gepetto wants to continue doing what is right with his life and lead his little boy down the right path. Temptation lurks around every corner though and even with Jiminy Cricket being the voice of reason on his shoulder; Pinocchio can’t help but be led astray by the idea of having fun, singing songs, and just enjoying life. Pinocchio ends up falling in with the wrong crowd and not only realizes the consequences that come along with being dishonest, but also learns that it doesn’t pay to make a jackass out of yourself because you only end up hurting the ones you love. But his bad deeds may have already cost him too much in life and not only might he never become a real boy but he also may have lost the person that loves him the most, his father Gepetto.
There is really nothing bad that can be said about Pinocchio because it’s such an excellent film. Disney really knew what they were doing with their second animated feature film after the success of Snow White. Everyone thought that Snow White was so different and so perfect and so untouchable that no other full-length animated film could ever come about and compare to it. I can only imagine the surprise when Walt Disney came out with Pinocchio a mere three years later and everyone started spouting off at the mouth about the exact same things. Such a beautiful story told that can give people hope for anything and everything in life is what can be taken from seeing a wooden puppet come to life. But they must all realize that everything you work for and love can be taken from you in an instant by not leading a good life and thinking only of yourself. What makes Pinocchio even better is that these life lessons are portrayed through good times and bad.
Stromboli’s Pleasure Island has become one of my favorite settings in all of Disney animated history and the incidences that go down there are just awesome. Seeing the boys be manipulated by this huge beast of a man only to turn into donkeys is a scary situation that can do nothing but frighten the living daylights out of children and hope they realize that being bad isn’t always fun. And just when you think things can’t get any worse for our little wooden boy; he ends up in the middle of the ocean dealing with a giant whale and then dealing with the insides of a giant whale. It’s almost as if the thrills and excitement never stop in Pinocchio which is a great thing because after the thrills and love from the first half of the film begin to subside, you end up on the edge of your seat wondering what could possibly happen next.
As if Pinocchio didn’t have enough going for it, it still happened to have that slight touch of Disney magic along with a wonderful soundtrack that has songs you probably hear almost daily. “When You Wish Upon A Star” is played on just about every Disney commercial you’ll see these days and is the theme played when the winners of the Super Bowl let the nation know they are “going to Disney World!” “I’ve Got No Strings” and “Give A Little Whistle” are light-hearted tunes that you’re bound to sing under your breath for days or even out loud while driving in your car just because they’re easy to learn and a lot of fun. Fun…exactly what everything brought to us by Pinocchio is now and has been for seventy years.
Pinocchio is shown in 1.33:1 Full Screen format and let me just tell you that it is absolutely gorgeous and by far the best I’ve ever seen this film presented. Every color looks beautiful and everything is touched up so greatly that it is just an amazing transformation from anything it has ever been before.
The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and it also comes through sounding more beautiful than I’ve ever heard it. All dialogue sounds great and the sound effects come through from everywhere making the viewing experience even better. You can tell just how great it sounds simply by listening to each and every song and letting them sink into you with their true meanings and beauty.
Both paragraphs above describe the Blu-ray version of the film. The specifications are same for the single-disc DVD version included, and while the audio still sounds great, the visuals aren’t nearly as good.
There are different options of watching the film on Blu-ray as well. It can be shown normally, in Disney View, or with Cine-Explore. Disney View shows the film with extra artwork on the sides thrown in so that there are no black bars as the film was initially intended to be. Honestly they are more annoying then useful because they are stationary and sometimes become bothersome to the eyes. Cine-Explore allows the audio commentary of the film to be shown as a little picture-in-picture window that also shows behind the scenes footage and even original storyboards.
B Disney Live – Logging onto the Internet will give you more options to enjoy this disc and other Disney Blu-ray releases.
“When You Wish Upon A Star” Music Video by Meaghan Jette Martin
Disney Song Selection – Choose your favorite songs from the film and watch them individually or all together. Each song is shown with on screen lyrics so that you may sing along.
Pinocchio’s Matter Of Facts – Disney again provides the pop-up facts as the film rolls along so that you can know everything there is to know about Pinocchio. Very fun and informative.
Pinocchio Knows Trivia Challenge – Play the game alone or with friends but test your knowledge on one of the greatest Disney films of all time.
Audio Commentary – Leonard Maltin, Eric Goldberg, and J.B. Kaufman are together for this track and it is highly informative and very fun. They all provide a lot of great stuff here and it can be listened to as just their voices over the film or with the Cine-Explore option for picture-in-picture. My personal preference is the Cine-Explore, but if you’d just like to learn a lot more about Pinocchio and are simply doing other things while not giving your full attention to the screen then just listening to this trio discuss everything is a delight.
Pinocchio’s Puzzles – This is not one of the better games as it is obviously aimed at young children and is simply putting puzzle pieces in their correct places.
Pleasure Island Carnival Games – Another feature that children will obviously enjoy more then adults as there are four carnival games to play in order to rescue the donkey boys from Stromboli.
No Strings Attached: The Making Of Pinocchio – Anything and everything you could possibly want to know about Pinocchio is discussed in this featurette. Interviews with Disney big wigs, experts, historians, imagineers, and so many more give forth a lot of information about the film and the affect it has had on not only the history of Disney but animation as well. It is a must watch and so much fun since it just keeps a light-hearted feel throughout and talks more about this majestic and wonderful film. (56:04)
Deleted Scenes – All deleted scenes are shown in storyboard format with narration and music so you aren’t merely sitting there in silence. This featurette is actually very detailed in that it goes to great depths to discuss how Walt Disney himself always had so much extra footage never completed on most films but wanted it around just in case. There are two deleted scenes and even an alternate ending included here which are well worth checking out. (10:35)
The Sweatbox – This piece looks at the different animation techniques invented by Walt Disney and focuses especially on “The Sweatbox.” Animators discuss the process of the Sweatbox and how it came to be known by that name. Essentially it was Walt and animators sitting together to watch storyboard reels on screen and determine if things were correct enough to move on or if there was a need to start over. Short, but fun. (6:25)
Live Action Reference Footage – I’ve seen this done before for other Disney animated films showcasing different methods used to create the proper images. Live action sets with actors and props would be used so that the animators could make their drawings as realistic as possible. (9:57)
Pinocchio Art Galleries – Images and artwork from the film is included here along with never before seen pieces.
Publicity – A collection of theatrical trailers.
Deleted Song: “Honest John” – This song is simply heard over a picture of Honest John and it’s a good thing that it was cut because it just doesn’t seem to fit into the film at all. (2:37)
Gepettos Then And Now – Take a look at toymakers throughout time and see how the evolution of toys has surely come a long way from when marionette puppets were more then adequate. I like this featurette because it focuses on something related to the film but not directly. It’s also great knowing there are still a few original toymakers left in the world. (10:57)
DVD – The single disc DVD included with this Blu-ray set includes the music video, song selection, audio commentary, and Pinocchio’s Matter Of Facts game in its bonus features.
Trailers – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Platinum Edition on Blu-ray, Up, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, Bolt, Monsters Inc., and Disney Parks
You just can’t go wrong with this purchase because it’s Pinocchio for the love of God. Come on people, it’s a no-brainer. You need to buy and right now. Not to mention that you not only get the Blu-ray but also the DVD just in case you don’t have a Blu-ray player in every room and you want to watch some good old-fashioned Disney as you go to bed one night, you can. The film is a masterpiece and absolute classic so it’s no surprise that it is awesome. Disney always goes all out with their home video releases and that doesn’t change with our little wooden friend as we get a lot of special features including a great commentary, storyboards, featurettes, games, and even music videos. There is just no denying the production value and time that goes into each Disney release and Pinocchio continues to prove that as this Blu-ray has no strings to hold it down.
Walt Disney Studios presents Pinocchio 70th Anniversary Edition. Directed by: Hamilton Luske & Ben Sharpsteen. Starring (voices): Mel Blanc, Cliff Edwards, Evelyn Venable, Christian Rub, Dickie Jones, and more. Written by: Carlo Collodi & Ted Sears. Running time: 88 minutes on 3 discs. Rating: . Released on DVD: March 10, 2009. Available at Amazon.com