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

"My Mind Turns Your Life Into Folklore": Why Taylor Swift's "Gold Rush" Is a Song About Songwriting

"My mind turns your life into folklore." That line, from the song "Gold Rush," is the only time the word "folklore" is spoken on either of Taylor Swift's 2020 records, Folklore and Evermore , the latter of which is where the song appears. The presence of the line indicates that "Gold Rush" is a pivotal song not only in Swift's lockdown duology, but in her maturation as a songwriter.  Swift's early albums often drew heavily from her own experiences, with fans and the media scouring her lyrics for clues as to which ex-boyfriend her numerous breakup songs referred. Her tumultuous dating life made as many headlines as her music, in part because it informed so much of the music. The discourse was often ridiculous and reductive, and thankfully, that period of her career is over (Swift has been in a relationship with the actor Joe Alwyn since 2016).  Both of her 2020 albums have their fair share of autobiographical songs, but they also see

Netflix vs. HBO Max vs. Disney+ vs. Hulu: Streaming Services Ranked

The entertainment industry is at a moment of change. Resources that were once spent on TV networks and theatrical releases are being funneled into streaming services, as media conglomerates race to catch up with game-changing, industry-revolutionizing Netflix. The "streaming wars", the competition between the studios to sure up talent and content deals as they ask audiences to buy their monthly subscriptions, is in full swing.  One day, a book will be written about the streaming wars and it'll include a clear picture of which services crashed and burned and which ones emerged victorious. I look forward to reading that book and looking back on this moment in time with hindsight, but until that day, all I can do is offer my opinion on each service and say which ones I feel are worthy of your money and time. I'm only going to talk about the services that are directly vying to be the new Netflix, not niche ones like Shudder or the Criterion Channel. Also, a proper ranking

Vanessa Redgrave in "Camelot": Review

Classic Film Review: Camelot (1967) The following post is a part of the 2017 TCM Summer Under the Stars blogathon, hosted by  Journeys in Classic Film . In celebration of Vanessa Redgrave day on TCM (which will be showing her movies all day long August 14th), I decided to revisit one of my all time favorite movies, Camelot . The 1967 film is an adaptation of the 1960 musical of the same name by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. The musical, which was based on T.H. White's retelling of the Arthurian legend The Once and Future King , which was a huge box office success and won four Tony Awards. The original cast recording was the best selling record in the country for over a year. A movie version was inevitable.  That movie came seven years later. Directed by Joshua Logan, Camelot starred Richard Harris as King Arthur, Vanessa Redgrave as Guenevere and Franco Nero as Lancelot. When the King of England decides to use might for right and establish a new order of chival