Pinocchio: 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition
March 13, 2009
Pinocchio (1940) marked Walt Disney’s second foray into animated feature film territory, after the phenomenonal success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Based on Pinocchio: Tale of a Puppet by Carlo Collodi, early drafts stuck closely to the source material, including numerous characters and plot points. However, Disney did not like the work that was being done and stopped the project midway into production so that the concept and the characters could be redesigned.
When one hears the opening strains of “When You Wish Upon a Star,” it’s hard not to get a little choked up at this sentimental song – especially if you’ve grown up with this animated classic. The dapper Jiminy Cricket (Edwards) tells the story of a wood carver named Geppetto (Rub) who creates a wooden puppet named Pinocchio (Jones) and wishes for him to become a real boy.
With a little help from some magic, Pinocchio becomes a live puppet without strings. He’s convinced by a fox and a cat to go on a journey to become a real boy. Pinocchio works alongside other inanimate puppets for a band of traveling entertainers. However, he’s exploited by their leader who forces him to work until he’s outlived his usefulness.
Pinocchio is rich in detail and atmosphere. For example, the amusement park sequence is a marvel of colour and detail that is so rich and vibrant – the hallmark of early Disney animated masterpieces. The characters are masterfully realized with Pinocchio being incredible sympathetic. It’s hard not to root for him to succeed in his quest. There are some scenes of absolute magical wonderment, in particular, the appearance of the beautiful Blue Fairy (Venable) who teaches Pinocchio the dangers of lying and the benefits of telling the truth.
When Pinocchio was first released, it was not a commercial hit due to World War II cutting off the European markets. In addition, the mood of the times probably reduced the interest among American audiences in seeing fantasy stories. The film was well-received by critics and the song, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” became a major hit and has been forever associated with the motion picture as well as later becoming the fanfare for the Walt Disney Company itself. Pinocchio has gone on to become enshrined in the pantheon of classic Disney animated feature films, second only to Snow White.
“Music and More” is a music video featuring Meaghan Jette Martin singing a cover of “When You Wish Upon a Star” accompanied by a terrible techno beat.
“Disney Song Selection” allows you to jump to a specific song in the film and to have the lyrics displayed on-screen.
There is an audio commentary by Leonard Maltin, Disney animator Eric Goldberg and film historian J.B. Kaufman. They establish the background for Pinocchio’s origins. They also talk about the origins for “When You Wish Upon a Star” and point out that Jiminy Cricket is the glue that holds the film together. They explain how the look of the character came to be with archival excerpts from people who worked on the film.
Finally, there is “Pinocchio’s Matter of Fact,” which features all kinds of factoids that appear on-screen during the course of the film.