Skip to main content

Disney Review: "Pinocchio" (1940)

"Pinocchio" (1940)



Based on the children's novel "The Adventures of Pinocchio", "Pinocchio" was supposed to be Disney's big follow-up to their big hit "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves". Released in February 1940, and despite positive reviews from critics, the film was a major disappointment at the box office. Maybe this was because the film couldn't open in certain markets because of World War II, or maybe the box office returns just seemed disappointing because the unprecedented success of "Snow White..". Either way, most people wouldn't expect a film that's so well remembered today to have bombed during its initial release. But, thankfully, how "Pinocchio" preformed in 1940 has nothing to do with the quality of the film. The film was everything people expected, and more.





The film opens with its signature song "When You Wish Upon a Star", and Jiminy Cricket introducing the story. Gepetto is a lonely old woodcarver who lives with his adorable cat Figaro and goldfish Cleo. He carves Pinocchio, a puppet, and one night wishes that he would become a real boy. The Blue Fairy arrives and grants Gepetto's wish, and tasks Jiminy with being Pinocchio's conscience. The rest of the film follows Pinocchio's adventures as he is led astray various times. There are some dark parts, like where Pinocchio is tricked and taken to Pleasure Island with other misbehaved little boys, and where they get caught up with gambling, smoking, getting drunk, and are all turned into donkeys. And there's another part where they're all swallowed by a whale, but everything turns out okay in the end.

The story is heartwarming. It takes many twists and turns, without taking away from the central message. There are themes of morality, having your wish come true, and living up to expectations. The film goes much deeper than "Snow White", which is essentially a story of good vs. evil. Yes, that theme can be applied here, too, but there is a more complex examination of each side. There isn't one villain, like The Queen in "Snow White", but rather three; Honest John and Gideon the Cat, Stromboli, and Monstro the whale. There's humor, depth, stakes for the characters, and the main reason I think this is one of the greatest films Disney has ever made, the animation.

This film was released in 1940, and for that time, the animation in the film is phenomenal. The visuals are just so stunning and breathtaking, that it's hard to believe there are many films that can surpass this type of master artistry. Just look at any scene from the last few minutes of the movie, and try to compare it to any other animation produced during this era. Not an easy task. There is so much more detail than "Snow White", it's hard to believe they were released only three years apart.

Luckily, this film has not gotten a reputation for sending the studio into near financial ruin, and has instead been remembered for its achievements in animation and story. It should also be noted that the film did eventually turn a profit thanks to a reissue in 1945. "When You Wish Upon a Star" has become the anthem for the Disney brand, and "Pinocchio" was the first animated film ever to win a competitive Academy Award. It won two Oscars, for Best Original Score, and Best Original Song. The film is rightfully, considered one of the greatest animated films ever made, and, in my opinion, is even better (if only slightly) than its predecessor, due to the level of emotion and complexity through storytelling and animation, that "Snow White" just didn't get to. But they are both great films, two examples of the kind of magic Disney is known for around the world.

Release Date: February 23, 1940
TimScale: 91

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Oscars: My Response to the Newly Announced Academy Award Changes

The Oscars are losing relevance or so says the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which announced Wednesday a batch of changes to its annual telecast. The changes, designed to reverse a ratings dip in recent years, are the kind of desperate attempt to stay relevant that threatens the integrity of the whole affair. 

The first change, consistent with the Academy's desire to create a three-hour telecast, is that some awards will be presented during commercial breaks, with edited (meaning condensed) versions of the acceptance speeches airing later in the broadcast. It has not been determined which categories will be bumped, but I'll tell you right now it ain't gonna be Best Actress. The categories where celebrities are nominated will be shown live, and the tech categories won't be. This move is flat-out disrespectful to the men and women nominated in the below-the-line categories who deserve recognition for their vital contributions to movies. The Tony Awards fo…

Ranking the Five Best On Screen Portrayals of Hercule Poirot

Before Kenneth Brnagh dons the iconic mustache in the highly-anticpated new adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express (in theatres November 10th), I thought I would take a look back at some of the most famous portryals of Hercule Poirot. Agatha Christie's signature creation, Poirot is peculiar. meticulous, and at times, bombastic and arrogant, but he always solves the case in the end, with the help of his little grey cells. Countless actors have portrayed the Belgian detective on stage, screen, or radio, including Charles Laughton, Austin Trevor, Orson Welles, and Ian Holm. But this list focuses on TV or film adaptations just becuase those are the ones I have seen.


5. Alfred Molina (2001)
Molina played Poirot in the 2001 TV movie version of Murder on the Orient Express. He's a terrific actor, generally, but his Poirot is not distinctive or memorable in any way. The accent is not great, the mustache is not great, and he is not eccentric enough to get away with being rude to peo…

Ranking the "Mission: Impossible" Films Worst to Best

The Mission: Impossible movies, based on the 1966-73 television series, are about Ethan Hunt and the Impossible Mission Force doing something that seems impossible at first, but always ends up being possible. Tom Cruise stars in all the films as Ethan, and other members of the team are Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg). I like the Mission: Impossible movies because each film has a different director and thus each one has their own distinctive feel. Sure, there are a couple of constants (Cruise is in them all, they all are spy/action movies, and they all have people wearing masks - a nod to the TV show), but going into a Mission: Impossible movie you are never quite sure what you are going to get. Sometimes it's a silly fun spy franchise, other times it feels like nothing more than an excuse for Tom Cruise do to some sort of crazy stunt. Since the first film was released in 1996, there have been five movies, with a sixth on the way. Here's how I would rank the movies …