A LOOK BACK: Pinocchio
Continuing our chronological look at the Disney animated films, we come to Disney's film to follow Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Pinocchio was a movie about a little puppet that has to learn right from wrong to be on a path of becoming a real boy.
Geppetto is a kindly old puppet maker who dreams of having a son. The Blue Fairy comes down to grant him his wish by giving life to one of his creations. But, in order for him to become a real boy, truthful and unselfish. She names Jiminy Cricket to be his official conscience to help him through difficult situations.
On the way to school, Pinocchio meets Honest John and Gideon who get him involved in Stromboli's marionette circus. At first, Pinocchio is excited by being in the limelight, until he realizes he is a prisoner. The Blue Fairy helps him escape, but Pinocchio once again becomes led astray by Honest John and Gideon who sell him to the Coachman where he leads naughty boys astray and turns them into jackasses to be sent to work.
Fortunately, Pinocchio manages to escape and they look for Geppetto who had become eaten by Monstro the whale while he was searching for Pinocchio. Pinocchio musters all his bravery and selflessness to rescue Geppetto and, as a result, he becomes a real live boy.
While Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs might be the crowned masterpiece of the Disney animated line, Pinocchio is a close second and, in terms of its being a technical marvel, might even succeed that film. The use of the multiplane camera in the opening moments of the film are as beautiful as any CGI we've seen today.
There are some pretty dark subjects in here and some fairly scary scenes. One notable one is where the boys start turning into jackasses. Instead of watching a full blown metamorphosis, we see it in silhouette as we focus in on Pinocchio's horrified face. It's honestly much more terrifying to watch this way and only speaks to the filmmakers expertise in telling a story. On a side note, I heard somebody who was angry about the use of the word "jackass" in the film. But, that's literally what the boys become both figuratively and literally. Others have criticized the scenes as if they are glorifying smoking and drinking, but I hardly find this to be the case when you've been turned into a jackass. Needless to say, if you are that sensitive, this film may not be right for you. But, then neither are most of the early Disney films. I, for one, credit the animators for their bravery in tackling these hard subjects.
The music from the movie is fantastic and, of course, contains one of Disney's anthems "When You Wish Upon A Star" which went on to win the Academy Award that year. Leigh Harline, Paul J. Smith and Ned Washington took home the Oscar for Best Original Score.
Believe it or not, Pinocchio was not a financial success for Disney and made less than the studio projected. The film opened to mixed reviews, but, now, it is generally well revered, scoring 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. It has made the National Film Registry, was named to both the American Film Institute's 10 Top 10 in animation and AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies.
Pinocchio is an undeniable classic and a masterfully told work of art.