I watched Pinocchio in the spring. It was perhaps fourth or fifth time that I watched Pinocchio. This was first time in English. Pinocchio is second Disney classic movie and it premiered in February 1940. Pinocchio wasn't financially successful. Part of the reason is believed to be in the Second World War and american not going to the movies that much at the time. However what it comes to development of western animation Pinocchio is remarkable film.
What it comes to Disney animations Pinocchio hasn't ever been one of my favorites. Later as an adult I have learned to respect it more. Often I like to compare animations to their original sources. What it comes to Pinocchio I have read some scenes from Collodi's book and also analyzes from fairy tale anthropologist Jack Zipes. Zipes has done lot's analyzes from Disney films. Some of them are quite insightful then some or pretty far-fetched so I am quite critical what it comes to them.
Pinocchio's creator was Carlo Collodi. He was Italian writer and a journalist. Originally Pinocchio was published as serial story in Italian children magazine Giornale per I bambini between 1881-1882 and completely book in 1883. I have only read pieces here and there from the original book. I doubt I'll ever read it completely. Stories are pretty creepy and disturbing. Pinocchio in the book is really mean child. Jiminy Cricket only makes short appearance in the story. Pinocchio actually kills him by stepping on him. In the end of the book Pinocchio is hanged for being a trouble maker.
I much more prefer the Disney version.
In the movie my biggest problem is with the main character. In the book Pinocchio doesn't regret his bad behavior. In the Pinocchio has developing morality.
I think this sentence summarizes the whole movie pretty well. Disney's Pinocchio is about morality and the way human learns to separate right from wrong. Greatest power in the film is Gepetto's strong love and trust for Pinocchio. They don't have that much time to spend together quite early in the movie Honest John and his helper seduce Pinocchio to Stromboli and the world of theater and later to Pleasure Island. In the movie transformation to real boy is reward Pinocchio receives from well behavior.
First scene where Pinocchio starts to understand Jiminy's words is the scene where Stromboli throws him in to the cage and threads to make fire woods out of him. When Blue Fairy arrives Pinocchio regrets his actions but is however too ashamed to admit that which is why his nose starts to grow.
By the end of the movie Pinocchio has developing morality. When he gets message that Gepetto has been eaten by a whale his first unselfish action is to go and safe them. Second one when Pinocchio saves Gepetto's life by pulling him to the cave away from the whale Monstro. In the end Pinocchio does become a real boy since he has proved himself to be brave an unselfish.
Biggest reason why I never really liked Pinocchio's character is that he doesn't know how to say no but is easily manipulated and each time follows the person who he happens to be around. However when I last time watched Pinocchio I got a revelation and understood why he behaves this way. When Blue Fairy makes wooden puppet a living puppet Pinocchio has no understanding about being a human. He is sent to school when he is 1-day old. Straight away Honest John seduces him to theater. Next day he is captivated by Stromboli and next few days in the pleasure island. Can I assume that wooden boy that has only lived for 4-5 days to have perfect judgement of human behavior? No I can not relate myself to the character situation even if I'd like to.
Jiminy has always been my favorite character in Pinocchio. He climbs the social ladder when Blue Fairy makes him Pinocchio's conscience. Jiminy becomes found of Pinocchio and he want's the help him the best way he can. However for me Jiminy is most familiar from "All of us to all of you". Disney's Christmas special that as far as I know hasn't been aired in the USA since the 70's but is aired in Finland and all Nordic countries each year around Christmas. Hosted by Jiminy Cricket and each year there are clips from up-coming Disney films as well. I also like the way Jiminy was portrayed in the Once upon a time -series as a psychologist. I think it was very fitting for the character.
Gepetto, Cleo and Figaro
Gepetto represents unconditional love of a parent. He is a bit silly old man but he is very good-hearten. This can be seen the way his pets care for him. After Pinocchio has gone missing and Gepetto has prepared dinner Figaro is really mad when Gepetto tells him not to eat the fish. He is really mad but still respects Gepetto's wishes.
I also love the scene where Gepetto tickles Cleo's stomach. Both pets are very found of Gepetto. He also has very playful sense of humor. You can see this in the scene where he dances with Pinocchio and makes him kick Figaro's but. One can also see his playful character in the music boxes and clocks he has carved. Figaro gets little bit jealous for Pinocchio just because he gets so much attention from Gepetto. Figaro's and Cleo's relationship is like watching brother and sister. Cleo is angelic sweet and Figaro is rebel. Both are still very found of each others.
Pinocchio you have a tail!
Disney's Pinocchio is way less creepy than Collodi's original story (and many other animated movie Pinocchio). Still Disney's Pinocchio is considered to be one of the darkest Disney animations ever made. There is big amount of bad guys. Puppet theater owner, violent Stromboli. Leader of the Pleasure Island creepy Coachman. Honest John and Gideon are also crooks of the story but more characters that start the unfortunate events. I always thought creepiest scene in whole movie is the one where Lampwick turns into a donkey. Pinocchio has lot's of psychological horror.
I really like the Pleasure Island Game Hall design. I think it was quite clever to make it as an 8-ball. There Pinocchio drinks bear, plays pool and smokes cigars with Lampwick. I find the whole concept of Pleasure Island pretty absurd. It is like trauma-therapy for young boys since they get to break everything.
Pinocchio also includes lot's of sociological themes like child labor. Little boys are seduced to the Pleasure Island. When they turn to donkeys Coachman is planning to sell them as "free labor" to salt mines and circuses. Scene where little boys/donkeys are send to the boat trip is heart breaking.
I don't know what other people think. When I was watching Pinocchio I hoped that there had been some kind of magical interfering (Blue Fairy perhaps?) who could have saved the lost boys. Pinocchio is such dark film. Who knows maybe story team thought about it but it didn't fit into the film.
One thing that I have noticed in Pinocchio is the episodic feeling. This also links the film to Collodi's original story. In many ways the bad guys in Pinocchio remind me of Disney's early animation episode characters from Silly Symphonies.
Little wooden head
I had forgot that Pinocchio also begins with a story book. Jiminy is the story teller. Beginning of the film is fun when camera work goes through eyes of jumping cricket. One of my favorite things in the film is Gepetto's workshop. Every time when I watch Pinocchio I can't stop admiring the amount of details and funny looking clocks. Quality of animation is very much advanced compared to Snow White. Another beautiful scene is the underwater scene. I find under water scenes and battle with Strombo actually much more light hearten than the anxiety driven scenes in the Pleasure Island. Probably because family is back together no matter what happens.
One of the things I do like in Pinocchio are the songs. Hi Diddle Dee Dee is very deceitful song. I think it's hilarious but of course gives very unrealistic image of actor's life.
When you wish upon a star - is actually a Disney song that for me is pretty much the same as Christmas Carol. No doubt because each year it is included in "All of us to all of you".
I've never liked the character of Stromboli but I've always liked the song I've got no strings and the puppeteer performance. Especially different dolls that represent different nationalities Russian dancers, Dutch dancers and French can can dancers. I also like the songs "wooden little head" and "give a little whistle" during those two songs viewer is introduced with Gepetto's workshop and the main characters.
There are many scenes in Pinocchio that I like. When Pinocchio finally finds his family in the belly of the whale Monstro Gepetto accidentally hugs and kisses a fish. I also love the end scene. Figaro is so happy when Pinocchio becomes a real boy he jumps into Cleo's tank and gives her a kiss. One of my favorite scenes happens right before Blue Fairy arrives. Gepetto has so many ticking clocks on the wall Jiminy has troubles getting sleep. Then he shouts "QUIEEET" and all the clocks get quiet.
Majority of the Disney films I have ever watched I have watched them in Finnish. Last time we watched Pinocchio in Disney society. That was first time I watched it in English. I usually prefer Finnish versions (Finnish animation voice overs are usually very high quality). But because Pinocchio hasn't never really been my favorites I didn't mind watching it in English. In fact Pekka Lehtosaari who has directed most of the 90's Finnish Disney voice overs got orders from Disney to find voice actors matching with the original voices. They indeed are very much alike (Finnish of course being completely different language compared to English). Wonderful Finnish actor Matti Ranin who passed away few years ago (he also worked as director for Disney's Finnish voice overs) did voice of Gepetto. I thought it was quite funny because Ranin's appearance was very similar to English voice of Gepetto Christian Rub and in fact Disney animator's used Rub as physical model to animate character of Gepetto.
Pinocchio may not be my favorite Disney animation I still highly recommend any Disney fan to watch it at least once or twice in their life.