Pinocchio (1940) Review

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Ah, Disney animation. Back in the days when Disney actually did animation before everything they did had to involve Pixar and ruin the formula. There’s something magical about those old Disney films with their classic animation. Yes, I used the word classic. They’re worthy of the title. Not every film is a classic, but the animation style is. Especially those from the early days, from the “Golden Age of Hollywood.” In 1940, Disney’s released their second animated feature length film, Pinocchio.

As I watched Pinocchio, I had three things to consider. Is the 1940 film a classic? Does it follow the original story written by Carlo Collodi? If not, how bad did Disney mutilate Collodi’s original vision? Before we delve deeper into these questions, I’d like to add a few notes. My favorite character is Geppeto’s cat as it reminds me of little calico Fiona. Am I the only one who’s favorite scenes involve the whale? The underwater scenes showcased the high-tech (for the time) animation, and use of color. For a land-locked mountain boy, I’ve always liked things about the sea. Some things I can’t explain.

Is the 1940 animated film Pinocchio a classic? I cast my vote on the no ballot. However, I can understand the argument for it to be, and it’s a strong one in favor. As with the original novel, I put this film on the next shelf down from a top-rated classic. It’s still a very respectable position and like the book, I enjoyed the film.

Does it follow Carlo Collodi’s original vision? If not, how bad was it mutilated? The basic premise and some generalities are the same, but there’s a lot of changes. There’s also a lot of omissions. I wouldn’t quite call them mutilations as they create a unique story that stands alone. I don’t want to spoil, and I don’t like to spoil. The fun is reading, then watching for yourself to find all the noticeable and subtle differences. There’s plenty between the original novel and the animated film. I will say Disney’s puppet isn’t an obnoxious dummkopf as he was in Collodi’s original. We can thank, or blame, old Uncle Walt himself for that decision. He felt people wouldn’t like and sympathize with a rude, obnoxious puppet. Sometimes things are better a bit more raw, a bit less sweet. I’ll take my puppet as a dummkopf if you don’t mind.

I don’t know if I’ll rush to watch Pinocchio again soon, and I can’t even say for sure if I’ll be adding it to my collection. It wasn’t a waste of my 90 minutes to watch, and I enjoyed the film. If you haven’t read the original, but want to watch the film, go ahead. You’ll get a general feel for the story, but with a heavy dose of Disney gloss. Don’t try to pass any tests about the novel based on what you saw. Also don’t think the Disney version is the true version, or the best version. When it comes to Pinocchio, what they say is true. The book is better.

Copyright © Drew Martin 2017

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