Monday, August 29, 2011

The Disney Films - Pinocchio

Over the course of the next year, I plan to watch every Disney animated feature in chronological order. Why have I embarked on this strange undertaking? Besides the fact that I'm crazy, to give both a critical view and historical perspective of Disney through the years. I hope you'll come along for the ride!

2. Pinocchio, 1940

Background: Pinocchio was thrust into the equally great and unenviable spotlight of being Walt Disney's second feature after Snow White. It's based on an Italian serial to which the finished product bears only minimal resemblance.

The Good:
  • The film more closely approaches an actual complete story, unlike the randomness of Snow White, and in the end has a good moral to go along with it.
  • All of the characters are classics, not the least of which is Disney's perennial narrator Jiminy Cricket.
  • It inspired this.
The Bad:
  • While the story feels more "complete" than Snow White, Pinocchio falls into the same basic pitfalls of loosely related scenes cobbled together. The same basic idea follows throughout the film: a bad guy gets Pinocchio to do something dumb, Jiminy disapproves, Pinocchio ends up in worse shape than before, the Blue Fairy saves the day. This happens 3 or 4 times and then the film ends.
  • Some of the scenes are downright nightmarish. From the donkeys on Pleasure Island to the giant whale this one had to have sent a generation of children into counseling.
Random Notes & Nitpicks:
  • I can't help but notice stuff like this but why is Honest John so amazed by seeing a walking talking puppet when he is, in fact, a walking talking fox?
  • And also, Gepetto is rewarded for being a kind and honest man when he's really a pretty big jerk. I mean, he makes the cat get up out of bed and close the window for him when it's within arms reach of his bed.
Thoughts: I like Pinocchio, honestly I do. It sets up a few more Disney memes that Snow White didn't hit yet, mainly the template for a sympathetic character (childlike body with big eyes.) It gave us Pinocchio, Jiminy, Figaro and Cleo (stars of this cartoon that I loved as a child,) and "When You Wish Upon A Star."

But much like old episodes of Sesame Street that are now rated TV-14, this is an animated film from another era for a different generation of kids. An odd specimen of a film that worked in the 1940's that still works as nostalgia today.

Why You Should See It: There's plenty of historical significance and memorable characters who deserve to be seen in their original element. Plus you psyche probably needs fodder for new nightmares.

Next Up: "Fantasia"

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